When I attended my first NICAR conference in 2013 as a young reporter for the Connecticut Mirror and WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio, I didn’t feel like I fit in at all. I became more comfortable after participating in an IRE bootcamp, attending the larger IRE conference, and working for larger news organizations. Still, it wasn’t until I went to a “Women at NICAR” event — by far my favorite conference experience — that I realized I shouldn’t have had to go through that kind of evolution. I think IRE has made incredible strides in this area since I first joined, but there’s a lot more to be done.
We need to aggressively expand our scholarship and fellowship offerings for journalists who come from underrepresented backgrounds and under-resourced newsrooms. We need to develop more training opportunities, not just for journalism skills but also for management and leadership skills. And we must help start honest conversations with newsroom leaders across the country about creating a more inclusive working environment — both in how employees are treated, and in how the news is covered. “Diversity, equity and inclusion” is not just one facet of IRE’s responsibility. It should be a part of everything that we do as an organization, and we should be encouraging all newsrooms to think the same way.
I’ve mostly thought of IRE as a resource for networking and for learning or sharpening specific skills. I believe we must work hard to expand that impression and what we offer. We should be thinking about helping IRE members access quality mental health resources, both through financial support as well as mentorship and peer-to-peer connections. We should have a protocol for collectively pitching in to help specific newsrooms or regions during emergency situations such as hurricanes or mass shootings. And when members are dealing with management challenges in their newsrooms, IRE should be a place they can turn to for help and solidarity.
IRE’s expansion has made it difficult for members to feel engaged and included in the organization, myself included. The pandemic has made that challenge all the more stark because of the isolation it’s thrown us into — isolation from our families, friends, colleagues, and fellow IRE members. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been pretty disconnected from IRE recently — not just since the pandemic, but also since I moved to a new city and started a new job about two years ago, which brought with it inevitable personal and professional struggles. Maybe the lack of engagement with IRE is a point against me when it comes to running for this position. But I think it can also add an important perspective. If I’m elected to the board, I plan to immediately advocate for those who’ve been in my shoes through strategies like targeted outreach, conversations about mental health and burnout, and smaller (and for now, virtual) free events that could be chapter or beat-based.
Thanks for considering me!
Marissa Evans, LA Times: I’m nominating Neena Satija for the IRE Board of Directors. She is an excellent investigate journalist who cares about public service journalism that helps vulnerable communities. Her background in radio, print and digital give her a keen sense of the challenges newsrooms face locally with prioritizing investigations amid economic uncertainty. She will help bolster efforts to train and elevate journalists of color and advocate for IRE’s future.
Ziva Branstetter, The Washington Post: I strongly endorse Neena Satija’s candidacy for the IRE board. I’ve worked with Neena at Reveal, and now The Washington Post, for five years. She is a versatile, smart and relentlessly energetic investigative reporter who has a clear understanding of IRE’s vital mission to educate and train investigative journalists. She would be an excellent addition to the board.
ISSUES OF INTEREST