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IRE offers support to journalists affected by industry layoffs

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) shares in the disappointment and sadness across our industry in the wake of recent layoffs at well-known traditional news outlets and in many smaller markets, which have received less attention but are just as devastating.

The cutbacks hurt journalism’s mission to inform the public. Yet, while fewer resources are disheartening, we cannot give up. There is a reason why the founders of the United States saw fit to include journalists in the First Amendment, and we at IRE are marshaling our resources and offering our strongest support to our colleagues, whose work is the very foundation of democracy.

From its beginnings in 1975, IRE has maintained a network of like-minded, fearless journalists who help each other in times of need, be it debugging a bit of code or finding a new job. And IRE members continue to do that today.

Here are some specific ways that IRE members can help today:

About IRE

Investigative Reporters and Editors is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative journalism. IRE was started in 1975 with the goal of providing a forum for journalists throughout the world to share story ideas, news sources and newsgathering and data analyzing techniques. Its first conference was in 1976. It continues to educate, empower and connect journalists today, now with three conferences annually: NICAR in the spring, IRE in the summer and AccessFest, an all-virtual conference in the fall designed to increase accessibility and affordability of IRE’s top-of-the-line training. Members also have access to workshops and webinars throughout the year, as well as thousands of tipsheets and other resources online. The IRE network is thriving, with members reaching out to each other regularly online to resolve individual technical and content issues. If you’re not yet a member, join IRE here.

The life of Phil Meyer, a giant in data journalism and an IRE legend, will be celebrated Saturday, Dec. 2, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

A funeral service will be held at Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill at 10:30 a.m., followed by a reception and celebration.

Meyer died Saturday, Nov. 4, at home in Carrboro, North Carolina, surrounded by family.

He was 93.

Meyer was professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“He maintained his humor, grace and mild-mannered reporter’s sense of curiosity and calm till the end,” said Sarah Meyer, one of his daughters.

Meyer died of complications of Parkinson’s disease. He recently had a happy celebration of his 93rd birthday with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, family members said.

The professor and journalist pioneered the use of social science methods to improve reporting and authored numerous books, including the seminal “Precision Journalism.” Earlier this year, IRE celebrated the 50th anniversary of the book at NICAR23 in Nashville.

“Phil was a pioneer in data journalism, who brought higher standards to reporting through data analysis and his own brilliant conceptual thinking,” said Brant Houston, a longtime friend and himself an author of textbooks and the Knight Chair of Investigative Journalism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“He instructed and inspired students and journalists throughout the world and leaves a deep legacy in the profession.”

Meyer was one of the early proponents of using data analysis for investigative journalism. In a groundbreaking story, he analyzed survey research about the 1967 deadly riot in Detroit to show that college-educated people were just as likely as high school dropouts to have participated in the riot.

His work on the riot helped earn the Detroit Free Press a Pulitzer Prize for local spot news reporting.

Meyer has received numerous awards over the years, and one of journalism’s highest honors is named after him.

IRE’s global Philip Meyer Journalism Award, established in 2005, recognizes the best journalism that uses the social science research methods pioneered by Meyer.

“Phil Meyer embodied all that makes the investigative journalism community great — brilliance, creativity, thoroughness and generosity,” said IRE President Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times. “We will miss him, but we know that his legacy lives on in countless IRE Members and other data journalists around the world.”

Meyer was widely recognized as a consummate educator, who enjoyed sharing his passion for numbers and making things better for fellow journalists the world over, including at IRE bootcamps about statistics and mapping.

“He will be remembered for his kindness and patience in his teaching along with a wry sense of humor that made new methods and ways of thinking much easier to learn,” Houston said.

That even-tempered nature was a hallmark of Meyer’s personality, his colleagues said.

“He was very precise and patient,” said Jennifer LaFleur, veteran journalist and now assistant professor of data journalism at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. LaFleur met Meyer when she was a trainer at IRE, studying and working with him. “He was able to seamlessly weave stories of his work in newspapers and his work doing analysis into something we were trying to learn that was much harder, which I think made it a lot easier to learn,” LaFleur said.

Prior to entering academia in 1981, Meyer was a reporter for 26 years, including stints at the Miami Herald, Detroit Free Press and the Akron Beacon Journal.

Meyer is survived by his daughters Kathy (Steve) Lucente, Melissa (the late Thal Massey Jr.) Meyer and Sarah (Teddy Salazar) Meyer and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sue Quail Meyer, and daughter Caroline Dalton Meyer.

To honor Meyer, contributions may be made to The Fund for PhD Education and Enhancement in memory of Phil Meyer by sending to UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Attention Danita Morgan; CB#3365, UNC Chapel Hill; Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3365.

Contributions also may be made to Investigative Reporters and Editors at www.ire.org/donate or to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press at www.rcfp.org. Put "Phil Meyer" in the tribute line.

The new president of the IRE Board of Directors is Brian M. Rosenthal, investigative reporter at The New York Times. 

Previously, Rosenthal served as treasurer.

The 13-member Board of Directors elected new officers for 2023-24 on June 30, 2023. 

The new vice president is Josh Hinkle, director of investigations and innovation at KXAN in Austin, Texas. Previously, Hinkle served as secretary.

The board elected Mark Greenblatt as treasurer. Greenblatt is executive editor of the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Before taking on his new position at ASU, Greenblatt was the senior national investigative correspondent at Scripps News in Washington, D.C., for 10 years.

The new secretary is Darla Cameron, managing editor for visual journalism at the Texas Tribune. The new At-large Officer is Lam Thuy Vo, a reporter at The Markup and associate data journalism professor at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.

As immediate past president, Mark Walker, investigative reporter at The New York Times, will continue to serve on the IRE Executive Committee in an advisory role as Chairman of the Board. 

Officers serve one-year terms. All board members serve two-year terms; six are elected one year and seven the next year. Six seats were up for election this year.

Cameron, Greenblatt, Vo and Walker are in the second year of their two-year terms on the board.

Rosenthal and Hinkle were reelected in this year’s board elections to another two-year term.  Board members Cindy Galli and Jodie Fleischer also were reelected to two-year terms on the board in this year’s elections. 

Two new board members were elected: Hyuntaek “Tag” Lee, an assistant editor at The Chosun Ilbo, a major newspaper in Seoul, South Korea, and Ana Ley, a reporter at The New York Times.

The results of the 2023 elections were announced at IRE23 in Orlando, Florida, on June 24.

Former board members Neena Satija, investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle, and Barbara Rodriguez, state politics and voting reporter at The 19th*, ended their two-year terms in June. They chose not to seek reelection and were honored for their service at the IRE23 Awards Luncheon on June 24.

Investigative Reporters & Editors celebrates its new mission statement on diversity, belonging, equity and inclusion, adopted unanimously by the IRE Board of Directors on June 14.

The statement reaffirms IRE’s commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment at all its events and meetings. 

“We believe a diverse and inclusive space helps secure a strong future for our organization,” said IRE President Mark Walker. “All our members and partners can be assured that IRE takes its commitment to diversity seriously.”  

While IRE has had a code of conduct in place for several years, board members saw a need for IRE to develop a separate document underscoring its DBEI principles amid growing concerns about hostile environments for journalists, particularly those from historically marginalized communities.

The move is particularly timely as the organization prepares for its annual flagship conference in Orlando, Florida, where there has been a backlash against inclusivity and high-profile attacks on LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities.

“At a time of such political uncertainty, IRE wants to reiterate its support for members of intersecting identities and backgrounds,” said Barbara Rodriguez, chair of the IRE Diversity & Inclusion Committee and a board member. “Let our message with this mission statement be clear: IRE is committed to being a safe and welcoming organization.” 

In response to IRE members’ feedback over legislation in the state of Florida targeting the LGBTQ+ community, the board issued a statement May 11 reaffirming IRE23 as a safe space for those most directly affected. The board has also worked with the staff and members to put together a guide for programming sessions and community activities that offers support and guidance to attendees navigating this developing situation. The guide includes businesses, including restaurants and entertainment venues, owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

This is the complete statement approved by the board June 14, now included on the IRE website:

IRE strives to reflect diversity and inclusion in all of its efforts and offerings. It is a foundational value, as a diverse membership strengthens our organization and produces higher-quality journalism that more accurately reflects the communities we serve. By centering inclusivity — both in our public programming and internal staffing policies — we help sustain IRE’s future and ensure that our members thrive as journalists, educators and students.

American journalism is in a state of flux, with a decline in newsroom employment that can limit what stories are told and who has the opportunity to tell them. That threatens diversity in an industry that still does not reflect the diversity of the nation. IRE is committed to taking practical steps to address the ongoing impact of such growing inequality within the industry. IRE will maintain the necessary data collection to assure membership of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

IRE develops programming, networking opportunities and training to create a safe space for all journalists, including journalists of color, LGBTQ+ journalists, journalists of different gender identities, journalists with disabilities and journalists of different religious beliefs and spirituality. For IRE, inclusivity means welcoming and supporting people with intersecting identities and backgrounds. IRE seeks to maintain a discrimination-free organization where everyone can learn and be supported professionally — including at conferences and events held in states with evolving laws and legal protections.

For more information on all of IRE’s DBEI initiatives, see our diversity and inclusion page.

April 7, 2023

Contact: Executive Director Diana Fuentes, diana@ire.org

Investigative Reporters and Editors is profoundly disturbed by the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by Russian authorities.

Gershkovich is an experienced U.S. journalist assigned to cover important topics like Russian politics, the country's economy and the war in Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal has flatly denied the allegations leveled against Gershkovich and has emphasized that he was in Russia on assignment, reporting the news for the public.

"Arresting a journalist for doing his job is an intimidation tactic of the worst kind," said IRE President Mark Walker. "It's what authoritarian regimes do when the spotlight of truth starts shining too brightly. Like the Wall Street Journal and fellow journalism organizations, IRE stands in solidarity with Evan and urges his immediate release."

This week, IRE is holding its annual data journalism conference in Nashville. Some members have expressed concern about their safety in light of recent actions by lawmakers in Tennessee. Today, the IRE Executive Committee issued the following statement:

IRE is committed to serving and supporting all its members and maintaining a safe, discrimination-free organization where everyone can learn and be supported professionally.

IRE is also dedicated to evolving its practices to create a more diverse and inclusive community. We believe discrimination based on gender identity or expression is damaging. IRE should be a space for all members to thrive, including trans, non-binary and gender diverse people.

If you are feeling unsafe during the conference, please seek out an IRE staff or board member for further assistance. They are there to help.

We will continue listening to all members, responding to their input, and working to improve our trainings, conferences and other events with those perspectives in mind. IRE also has a Code of Conduct to address complaints of discriminatory or harassing behavior. We encourage members to reach out to the IRE board or executive director with further questions, and please review the organization’s recent DEI initiatives for additional details.

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