In 2017 I attended an IRE conference where I watched keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones call on the journalism industry to do better in hiring investigative journalists of color. I then watched at the same conference as predominantly white-led investigative teams received IRE reporting award after IRE reporting award.
I’m running for the IRE Board of Directors because I have expected more from this organization ever since. I care deeply about IRE, and I want to be part of the collaborative process that holds it accountable to its commitment of increasing the ranks of investigative journalists of color through training and networking opportunities.
I also want IRE to step up more publicly in the years ahead to better address other growing inequities in our industry for early and mid-career journalists of color. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated newsroom burnout and laid bare the ongoing failures of too many newsrooms that do not reflect the communities they’re supposed to cover.
In the process, the journalism industry is losing talent at an alarming rate. Journalists of color often do not see themselves enough among newsroom staff, and by extension, in management. IRE has the power to call on newsrooms to create more inclusive workplaces that move away from viewing burnout as an individual problem but one that has been maintained by newsrooms.
If elected to the board, I have several areas I’d like to prioritize:
- I believe strongly that IRE must continue to make its conferences and related programming affordable to journalists. I have spent out-of-pocket costs on registration, travel and lodging to every in-person IRE conference since 2015, and it has been a difficult financial investment. I know that is still a privilege.
- I’d like to address what role IRE should play in diversifying investigative teams within newsrooms. (I believe strongly in the power of local investigative journalism as a former collaborator of the Local Matters newsletter.) That includes finding concrete mechanisms for holding newsrooms accountable on their diversity and inclusivity hiring goals, including an audit of the racial and gender makeup of investigative teams.
- IRE should consider developing industry guidelines for how newsrooms can train future editors of color, and find ways to collaborate with groups to expand such training at conferences and through other programming. Newsrooms must be more intentional in how they’re creating a pipeline for journalists of color to move into management positions that can play a critical role in developing more inclusive coverage.
It is also important for newsrooms to continuously train their long-term managers and new managers — many of whom are still predominantly white — on how to better work with journalists of different gender, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
I believe industry leaders like IRE must find ways to develop long-term solutions to these issues and others. It should not shy away from addressing the root causes of the inequities we see in newsroom coverage and hiring, and I commit to working respectfully to figure out best practices for the work ahead.