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Alejandra Cancino

I am an investigative reporter based in Chicago with more than 15 years of experience in legacy and nonprofit newsrooms. For nearly a decade, I’ve been a board member of the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in that role I have led programs to train young reporters of color and increase government transparency and accountability.

I joined IRE in 2011 as a reporter on the business desk of the Chicago Tribune. My membership was free for a year, thanks to a scholarship I received to attend a week-long watchdog workshop. At the time, I was the youngest member of my team and also the lowest paid, which meant that without the scholarship I wouldn’t have been able to attend the training.

The workshop taught me the skills I needed to write a series of stories about a state tax-incentive program that promised lots of jobs but delivered few. Some of those stories landed on the front page of the paper and had an impact: a short-lived moratorium and an increase in the program’s transparency.

I went on to become an investigative reporter at two separate nonprofit newsrooms, which have become vital in preserving local investigative reporting. Now as a senior investigative reporter with several long-form investigations under my belt, I continue to come back to IRE for training. Every time I’ve been ready for a new challenge, IRE has been there with workshops on interviewing techniques, data analysis and editing.

IRE’s trainings inspired me to pay it forward on the local SPJ board, where I’ve helped organize conferences and workshops, and where I co-created a program to train emerging reporters from marginalized communities on FOIA and other investigative reporting techniques. I know that I can be an effective board member of IRE, too.

If elected to the IRE Board, I would bring a local perspective, support the expansion of IRE’s trainings to more cities in the Midwest, and push for increased affordability for all members. Local journalists are the heart of IRE, and we must do more to meet their needs. I’d also continue to build on the work to diversify the industry and prioritize programs to advance the careers of senior reporters of color to management positions.

Many of IRE's biggest challenges come from outside the organization, including industry layoffs, threats to our democracy, and a declining number of news consumers. To address these challenges, we must work together and overcome internal — and outdated — divides between print, digital, and broadcast journalists. We should do this by continuing to focus our efforts on bringing IRE's career-changing trainings to communities across the country and supporting local investigative reporters to build the skills they need to pursue impactful watchdog reporting across all mediums.


Maria Ines Zamudio, The Center for Public Integrity – I’m honored to nominate Alejandra Cancino as candidate for the IRE Board. Alejandra is a thoughtful and dogged investigative reporter and a leader among Chicago’s innovative media landscape. Alejandra co-founded FOIA fest Bootcamp, an accountability journalism training for reporters from marginalized communities and has trained young journalists with City Bureau’s Civic Reporting Fellowship. Her collaborative leadership approach is needed during this challenging time for our membership.

Angela Caputo, Investigative Project on Race and Equity/ Loyola Marymount University – I wholeheartedly nominate Alejandra Cancino for the IRE board. What sets Alejandra apart as a leader in this moment for our profession is that she strikes a balance between being a stalwart for journalism as an institution, while, at the same time, challenging our industry to evolve and do better to reflect the world we live in. In addition to being an award-winning investigative reporter, Alejandra makes the time to mentor emerging journalists with an eye on both investing in individuals and helping to build the next generation of investigative reporters and editors who will carry the core principles of our profession forward. Also, Alejandra is one of the most organized, disciplined and meticulous people that I’ve met. She would be a tremendous asset to the IRE board, a distinguished leader within our community and an exemplary ambassador for the organization.

Candidate Q & A

Current position

  • Senior Reporter at Injustice Watch, a Chicago-based nonprofit newsroom investigating the Cook County court system

Prior experience

  • City Bureau, Deputy Editor
  • Better Government Association (now Illinois Answers Project), Senior Investigative Reporter
  • Chicago Tribune, Business Reporter

IRE experience

  • Member since 2011
  • NICAR Computer Assisted Reporting Bootcamp Attendee
  • I’ve been a panelist at IRE and NICAR conferences and have been a mentor and mentee on IRE’s mentorship program.
  • 2023/2024 Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member


  • FOIA
  • Long-form investigations
  • Quick-hit investigations
  • Investigative reporting training
  • Board member of the local SPJ chapter 2015-2024

Related links (optional)

  • LinkedIn:
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Issues you would like to address as a board member

  • The affordability of IRE’s programs
  • Local access to our programs (particularly in the Midwest)
  • Diversity in the leadership ranks
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