The journalism industry is in crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made it worse. In newsrooms around the world, reporters and editors face meager wages, pay inequities and shortages in resources for investigative work.
IRE can help fill the void — but only if we are affordable and accessible to all, especially local reporters and journalists of color.
When I joined IRE’s Board two years ago, I promised to work to increase affordability, while preserving our budget. I’m proud to say I have done just that.
I joined the Revenue Committee to increase fundraising, so our budget doesn't depend on the fees we charge to attend conferences. I have helped raise more than any other board member.
Last year, when our conferences went virtual, the staff proposed a $200 registration rate. I convinced the board to lower it to $175, and in the end, we actually made more revenue than projected, because more people could afford to pay to sign up.
This year, I convinced the board to lower the rate to $150.
I want to stay on the board so we can go further. I want to keep raising money and keep pushing creative solutions — including ensuring that when we return to in-person conferences, we maintain a virtual option so everyone can access our incredible programming.
I also want to stay on the board to continue pressing for diversity, equity and inclusion. I’ve helped lead the board in this area, including by urging IRE to adopt OpenNews's Speaker Rider for Meaningfully Inclusive Events; helping push the board to hire its first-ever executive director of color; and recruiting journalists of color for featured conference speaker positions. I want to keep going, including by pursuing more partnerships with NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, NLGJA and the Ida B. Wells Society.
I want to stay on the board to keep advocating for members. Last year, I suggested we conduct a survey to find out what members want us to prioritize. The board approved the survey, and it should come out later this year. I want to be there to finish rolling it out — and take action based on the results.
And I want to stay on the board to safeguard this beloved organization. Last year, when the pandemic threatened our financial health, I was one of two board members who volunteered to contact over 1,000 people with expiring memberships to ensure they stayed with us.
I attended my first conference a decade ago, when I was a 23-year-old from Indiana with a temporary gig at The Seattle Times. That conference changed my life, inspiring me to pursue investigative journalism and helping me land at the Houston Chronicle, and later The New York Times. But it also was a fluke. I only got to go because someone in my newsroom won a Pulitzer and used the prize money to send a few lucky reporters to IRE.
It shouldn’t have to be about luck. We can make IRE affordable and accessible for all.
Ron Nixon, AP: I would like to nominate Brian Rosenthal for the re-election to the board of IRE. Brian brings a wealth of knowledge to the board and the perspective of younger journalists and their needs. In addition, he led the board efforts on the issue of reducing conference registration rates, which is hugely important in making the great programming more accessible to people facing financial challenges, including local journalists, students and journalists of color.
Nora Lopez, San Antonio Express-News: I would like to nominate Brian M. Rosenthal to the IRE board. I have always been impressed by his award-winning investigative work . I also admire Brian’s work these last two years on the IRE board, particularly his push to lower registration rates. As president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, I believe that we could work together and possibly collaborate a project with IRE.