Projects investigating an insular religious community, Columbia River tribe nations, and the Palm Beach prostitution raid have been awarded IRE Freelance Fellowships.

The recipients of the 2019 competition are:

  • Sarah McClure, first place, is a freelance producer based in Los Angeles. Her project will produce a magazine article and documentary about widespread sexual abuse within an insular religious community. 
  • Eilis O’Neill, second place, is a Seattle-based freelance journalist. Her project will investigate four Columbia River tribe nations who have banded together to demand that the U.S. government rebuild the villages they destroyed. 
  • May Jeong, third place, is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn. Her project will investigate the Palm Beach prostitution raid, which included New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as a function of racial biases and that much of the human trafficking industry is built on false data and patriarchal and faith-based notions of sex.

The generosity of an anonymous donor has allowed IRE to award fellowships for the last 12 years. The fellowships give independent journalists a financial boost to pursue investigative work.

If you’d like to donate to the Freelance Fellowship fund, click here to make a donation. Please designate “Freelance Fellowship” in the form. 

IRE would like to highlight the work of 2017 IRE Freelance Fellowship recipient, Anna Cavell. 

“The fellowship I was awarded in 2017 became a documentary for Al Jazeera, which (recently) won an Emmy in New York in the category of outstanding investigation in a news magazine,” she said. Cavell investigated how the demand in U.S. families seeking to adopt from Uganda has paved the way for exploitation and fraud. 

About the award:

IRE Freelance Fellowships are for journalists who make their living primarily as freelance/independent journalists. Applications are scrutinized by experienced freelance journalists. Proposals are judged in part on the breadth, significance and potential impact of the investigative project. At the request of the donor, proposals dealing with whistleblowers, business ethics and/or privacy issues will receive priority; projects involving other topics will be given serious consideration by the committee as well. The freelance projects are to be published or aired primarily in U.S. outlets.