I spent the first part of my career aspiring to become an investigative reporter and, when I finally earned that title, found myself mystified at how one actually investigates anything without a beat.
It wasn’t until my first IRE Conference that I learned I wasn’t alone. Many incredible journalists have struggled with the transition from beat to investigative reporting and many more have entertained at least a passing thought that they’re not good enough for this gig.
I remember the relief I felt knowing that I was not an outsider, but part of a community – one that actively encourages its members to seek the truth, fight the obstacles and tell great stories.
The experience of that first IRE Conference gave me the confidence to produce some of my best work that following year: I exposed a standardized-test cheating ring orchestrated by the principal of an elementary school; I connected the dots on a scam to bilk seniors out of their retirement savings; and I coaxed the first person arrested in the Balco doping scandal to share her story with the world.
I feel fortunate to have benefited from IRE, whose conferences and workshops I’ve now attended for years.
But for many of my colleagues, this experience is out of reach. Systemic racism and entrenched biases have stymied diversity in investigative journalism. Beyond that, dwindling resources in the industry have limited the number of journalists who can fully participate in all of IRE’s offerings.
As an IRE board member, I will make it my mission to foster diversity, equity and inclusion by expanding scholarship opportunities for journalists of color and ensuring more diversity among conference speakers.
I also will advocate for lower conference costs whenever possible. We can offset these costs by expanding our fundraising efforts and searching for alternative and more affordable conference venues. I also will advocate for continuing virtual conference opportunities for those unable to travel.
Beyond diversity, equity and inclusion, IRE must address the challenge of the rising threats to journalists, especially women. We can do that by giving a more prominent voice to women journalists, offering support to those who experience these threats, and advocating for accountability.
In announcing my candidacy, I offer two decades of experience in journalism, three years of experience in fundraising and budget management as the president of a nonprofit autism center, and a strong desire to serve an organization that means so much to me.
Ellen Gabler, The New York Times: I’m proud to nominate Emily LeCoz for the IRE Board. Emily is an enthusiastic IRE member who has taken advantage of all IRE has to offer. She knows firsthand how IRE can help journalists reach their professional goals and is eager to help others do the same. I know she will be a positive leader and strong voice for all of us.
Andy Donohue, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting: I’m proud to nominate Emily Le Coz for the IRE board. I first got to know Emily during our first endeavors as journalists: at the University of Minnesota’s student newspaper. Since her days then as an enterprising reporting to her time now as an investigative leader, Emily has always brought the sensibilities that will also make her an excellent board member: curiosity, generosity, strong will and a sharp eye.
I’m the managing editor of investigations at USA TODAY.
I previously was the managing editor of the National Data and Investigations Team at GateHouse Media before it merged with Gannett/USA TODAY. Before that, I was deputy investigations editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where I was part of the team that produced Bias on the Bench, a nationally award-winning investigation that showed how Florida judges routinely sentence Black defendants to more time behind bars than white defendants for the same crimes committed in the same jurisdictions, even when they had similar criminal histories. And before that, I was an investigative reporter at the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.
I have been an active IRE member since 2013 and attended almost every IRE Conference since then. I also have been a frequent IRE Conference panelist, and have attended several NICAR Conferences.
I am an expert in investigative and data journalism. I also have experience fundraising, event organizing and managing large budgets as the co-founder and board president of a nonprofit clinic in Mississippi (the Autism Center of North Mississippi) that provides services for children on the autism spectrum. I served in this capacity from 2009-2013 and also served on the Mississippi’s legislatively appointed Autism Advisory Committee.
Issues I’d like to address:
As an IRE board member, I will advocate for more diversity among IRE members and a greater emphasis on addressing the struggles facing today’s journalists – dwindling resources, the fake news phenomenon, rising threats to journalists both physical and online, and giving a more prominent voice to women journalists.