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Six journalists elected to IRE Board of Directors along with two new Contest Committee members

Four incumbents — Cindy Galli of ABC News, Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times, Josh Hinkle of KXAN and Jodie Fleischer of Cox Media Group — along with two newcomers, Ana Ley of The New York Times and Hyuntaek Lee of The Chosun Ilbo in South Korea, were elected to two-year terms for the IRE Board of Directors in election results announced Saturday, June 24, 2023. IRE members also elected two members of the Contest Committee, which judges the IRE Awards.

The board will meet to elect new officers within 30 days.

New members of the Contest Committee are Walter Smith Randolph of Connecticut Public Broadcasting and John Russell of the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Full election results for the Board of Directors:

1Jodie Fleischer61675.03
2Brian M . Rosenthal61374.67
3Cindy Galli58170.77
4Ana Ley55767.84
5Josh Hinkle53364.92
6Hyuntaek Lee39948.60
7Rick Gevers37145.19

Full election results for the Contest Committee:

1Walter Smith Randolph54970.47
2John Russell41853.66
3Mark Lagerkvist34544.29

Investigative Reporters & Editors honored two former members this week, inducting them into the IRE Ring of Honor. The Ring of Honor launched in May 2022 as a fundraising initiative that celebrates members who have made significant contributions to the organization and investigative journalism.

On June 24, 2023, the late Tom Torok of The New York Times and the late David Donald of Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University became the first two members of the IRE Ring of Honor. The induction ceremony took place during the awards luncheon at the IRE Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Tom Torok

Lifelong journalist Tom Torok was a tireless reporter and editor, a popular mentor and a trailblazing data journalist of the highest caliber. Torok was a natural-born teacher in high demand at the countless sessions he conducted at IRE and NICAR conferences and in classrooms across the United States and worldwide.

He died in Camden, New Jersey, on March 6, 2022, after a brief illness. He was 73.

Torok was nominated to the IRE Ring of Honor by Andy Lehren of NBC News. Lehren and other supporters raised $4,147 in Torok’s name for the IRE Ring of Honor fellowship fund.

"Tom represents the best in the IRE and NICAR spirit, not only excelling at his own work, but he tirelessly helped others, generously teaching and sharing with others," Lehren said.

David Donald

David Donald was a visionary in the world of data journalism, eagerly embracing new techniques and technologies and sharing them with a passion that was infectious. Many remember him as a compassionate teacher who was always ready to help fellow journalists.

Donald died Dec. 10, 2016, of complications from mesothelioma. He was 64.

"David Donald changed the course of my career — his training, mentorship and overall support elevated my journalism and changed my perspective on finding and outing truths," said London-based journalist Crina Boros. "I once asked him why he mentored. 'I, too, once stood on the shoulders of giants,’ he said. ‘This is my way of giving back.'"

Donald was nominated to the IRE Ring of Honor by Jennifer LaFleur of the Center for Public Integrity and a group of IRE members called “Friends of D Squared.” In his honor, they raised $3,110 for the IRE Ring of Honor fellowship fund.

IRE honors their legacy by continuing their work

Tax-deductible donations to the Ring of Honor memorialize the legacies of these influential mentors and newsroom leaders while financially supporting the next generation of investigative journalists. Fellowships allow qualified recipients to attend conferences, participate in training and network with other investigative journalists.

For more information on how to nominate someone for the IRE Ring of Honor, please click here.

IRE’s Don Bolles Medal for 2023 has been awarded posthumously to Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, who was killed in September 2022 in apparent retaliation for his reporting on a local public official.

The Don Bolles Medal recognizes investigative journalists who have exhibited extraordinary courage in standing up against intimidation or efforts to suppress the truth about matters of public importance.

"Jeff German was undaunted in his pursuit of accountability journalism," said IRE President Mark Walker. "In recognizing him with the Don Bolles Medal, we honor his dedication to dogged persistence in the face of intimidation and hostility, and his fearless drive to get the job done.

"His spirit lives on in all of us who believe in the power of investigative journalism."

German, 69, whose career in Las Vegas spanned four decades, was found stabbed to death outside his home on September 3, 2022. At the time, Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook called German "the gold standard of the news business."

"It's hard to imagine what Las Vegas would be like today without his many years of shining a bright light on dark places," Cook added.

German joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun. During his career, German repeatedly uncovered government corruption and exposed the misdeeds of Sin City’s most notorious mob figures.

"In recent years, his reporting exposed failures in city inspections before the deadly Alpine Motel Apartments fire in 2019; claims of bullying, hostility and mismanagement at the Clark County’s public administrator’s office; and extremist activity in Southern Nevada," the Review-Journal reported.
Then-Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was charged with German’s murder and is awaiting trial.

Former IRE Board member Phil Williams, who led the effort to create the Don Bolles Medal and has spearheaded the nomination process, said the selection of Jeff German sends a message that the murder of investigative journalists can never be taken for granted.

"While this posthumous honor will not bring back Jeff German, it will help ensure that his sacrifice will never be forgotten," Williams said.

"His murder is a reminder of the risks that come with the dedication to expose wrongdoing that public officials and others would like to keep hidden, and it serves as a reminder of the everyday heroism of investigative journalists all around the world."

The Don Bolles Medal was created in 2017 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Arizona Project, an effort led by IRE to finish the work of Don Bolles. The Arizona Republic investigative reporter was killed in 1976 by a car bomb in retaliation for his reporting.

Bolles' death came a few days before the first national IRE conference in Indianapolis, where the veteran reporter had been scheduled to speak on a panel. At the time, Bolles had been investigating allegations of land fraud involving prominent politicians and individuals with ties to organized crime.

After his murder, nearly 40 journalists from across the country descended on Arizona to complete his investigation. News organizations across the country published their findings.

Their message: Efforts to suppress the truth will be met by even greater efforts from the rest of the journalism community to tell it.

A staunch commitment to blocking the release of internal emails about a growing public health risk has earned Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy the 2023 Golden Padlock Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. The award honors the most secretive government agencies in the U.S.

The agency originally quoted the Flatwater Free Press a fee of $2,000 to access internal emails referencing nitrate, a chemical in fertilizer linked to cancer that has been increasingly showing up in Nebraska drinking water. When a reporter submitted a simplified request to reduce the fee, it instead increased by 2,000 percent to $44,103.11. 

“The easiest way not to give documents is to deny documents. And you can deny documents in one of two ways,” said Daniel Gutman, attorney for the Flatwater Free Press. “One is to say there are documents but you don’t get them. The other is to say you have to pay $45,000 dollars for them. Both avenues lead to the same result, which is no documents and less public awareness – less transparency.”

The Flatwater Free Press sued, and a judge ordered that the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy provide a fee estimate reflecting the actual cost of making the records available. Nevertheless, the agency has held firm in its resolve to withhold the information pending a state supreme court appeal.

“This is the story of a public agency funded with public money in the public interest working diligently to undermine the public’s right to know,” said Robert Cribb, chair of the IRE’s Golden Padlock committee that reviewed nominations from across the country. “The relentless commitment displayed by Nebraska officials who are keeping vital information from public view is a distinction worth honoring.”

The committee also named three other finalists that exemplified the techniques of secrecy and obfuscation the award seeks to highlight. Those other three finalists were the City of Vallejo, California; the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut; and the City of Worcester, Massachusetts.

The winner of the 2023 Golden Padlock Award was announced during a June 24 awards luncheon at the 2023 IRE Conference in Orlando. IRE invited Jim Macy, director of the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy, to Orlando to accept the award, but received no response.

Read the “Our Dirty Water” series by the Flatwater Free Press. See also reporter Yanqi Xu’s article about her reporting in The IRE Journal’s first quarter 2023 edition.

Watch the presentation of the 2023 Golden Padlock, excerpted from a recording of the awards luncheon, June 24, 2023, at IRE23 in Orlando.

Investigative Reporters and Editors is honored to announce that three colleagues of the late Las Vegas journalist Jeff German will deliver a joint keynote address at the 2023 IRE conference in Orlando, June 22-25. 

Rhonda Prast, Briana Erickson and Art Kane, all members of German's Investigative Team at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, will speak at the IRE Awards luncheon on Saturday, June 24.

German was killed outside his home Sept. 3, 2022. An elected county official who was the subject of German’s investigation into allegations of workplace harassment has been charged with murder in his stabbing death.

"Mere hours after Jeff's death, his colleagues had to set aside their grief not only to report on his case and answer questions from reporters across the country but also to continue the work on his other pending investigations," said IRE Board President Mark Walker. "The Investigative Team was determined to show they would not be intimidated. It was a daunting undertaking but one they tackled head-on."

Erickson is an award-winning investigative reporter at the Review-Journal where she has covered everything from the Las Vegas mass shooting at the Harvest music festival to the Raiders, courts and homeless issues. Her work has been recognized by the Best of the West, the Nevada Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Kane was named Review-Journal Investigations Editor in February 2023. He has been a reporter, editor, producer and executive producer at top metro newspapers and a top 20-market television station for nearly three decades. Since joining the Review-Journal, his stories led to indictments of convention officials, the Henderson constable and a revamping of the state dental board, including the resignation of half the board and termination of the top two staffers. He has been honored with two duPont-Columbia awards, a Peabody and a national Emmy. He was also named Nevada's outstanding journalist of the year in 2020 and again in 2022 by the Nevada Press Association. Kane is writing a book on the life and death of Jeff German for WildBlue Press.

Prast is the former Assistant Managing Editor for Investigations and Projects at the Review-Journal. She edited German’s investigative work on Robert Telles and the county, and she managed the I-team’s ongoing probe after his death. A veteran editor, she has held leadership positions at the Idaho Statesman, the Kansas City Star, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and The Seattle Times. She was also a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism on the magazine faculty, focusing on digital journalism. At the Review-Journal, her team’s work was honored with more than 25 state, regional and national awards under her tenure.

At the IRE23 Awards Luncheon, the three will talk about their work and that of others in the aftermath of German’s death.

"This is an opportunity to hear what was going on behind the scenes and how these journalists handled difficult situations as they evolved," Walker said. "We appreciate their willingness to share their experiences with fellow IRE members. This is sure to be a highlight of IRE23."

Following German’s slaying, the Jeff German Fund for Investigative Journalism was established by IRE with generous support from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Arnold Ventures and the Knight Foundation as well as individual donors from across the country. The fund helps journalists get training in the latest investigative reporting skills as well as tried-and-true methods at IRE conferences and workshops. Donations to the fund can be made in several ways, including PayPal, credit card and text, at the IRE donation link: Please write "Jeff German" in the message or tribute field.

Three photographs. Jeff German's former colleagues, from left: Rhonda Prast, Art Kane and Briana Erickson.
The late Jeff German's colleagues, from left: Rhonda Prast, Art Kane and Briana Erickson.

IRE is proud to welcome 95 journalists to the IRE23 fellowship class! 

IRE and generous benefactors are helping journalists around the country attend the #IRE23 in Orlando, June 22-25. Fellows will attend panels and training sessions, and also network with IRE members from around the country. 

Fellowships and scholarships were available to all journalists, including early-career and student journalists, reporters working in smaller news markets and other journalists from underrepresented communities. All fellows were required to meet IRE’s membership standards.

IRE is proud to help foster the development and training of investigative reporters. Congratulations, IRE23 fellows!

Colorado Trust Fellowships

David Dietz Fellowship

Eric B. Sager Scholarship

Gary Marx Scholarships

Godfrey Wells Stancill Fellowship

IRE Fellowships

Cox Media Group Scholarships

James Richard Bennett Scholarships

IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship 

Jeff German Fellowship

Jennifer Leonard Scholarship

Napoli Management Group TV Scholarships


Sandra Thomas Fellowship

Applications are now open to participate in the IRE Conference mentorship program, either as a mentor or as a mentee.

If you’ll be joining us in Orlando, you can sign up by filling out this form. IRE will match mentors with mentees and arrange for them to meet at a breakfast during the conference. The IRE23 mentorship — sponsored by Sinclair Broadcast Group —breakfast will be held from 7:45 - 8:45 a.m. on Friday, June 23, at the conference hotel.

Space is limited in this popular program, and the deadline to apply is midnight CT on Sunday, June 4. If the slots are filled before then, your application will be added to a waitlist.

Please also note that you must register for the conference by June 5 in order to participate.

IRE is proud to present two showcase panel discussions during the IRE22 conference in Denver, tackling important themes of leadership, cultural reckoning, and the power – and challenge – of newsrooms working together. Both panels will take place Friday, June 24, livestreamed for virtual attendees and recorded for later viewing.

"Kicking Glass" features a powerhouse panel of women in command of some of the most successful newsrooms, brands and investigative teams today.

What were their paths up the ladder to the leadership positions they hold today, and what are the biggest challenges they face now? How do these accomplished journalists of color guide their teams as they cover reckonings outside the building – while examining reckonings inside it? And how do you encourage culture shift among teams without inviting the criticism that you’re more activist than journalist?

Dawn E. Garcia, director of the JSK Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, will moderate a discussion among these panelists:

"Kicking Glass" will take place from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. MDT in room Colorado B.

"Banding together for truth," will take us behind the scenes of how 16 competing newsrooms teamed up to fight for access to videos of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

How did the media coalition that sued the government come to be, and has it set a precedent for future First Amendment battles? Hear from some of the esteemed journalists who took up the cause as they discuss the power of video to combat the denial of fact and address the question: Are we better together?

Pierre Thomas, chief justice correspondent for ABC News, will moderate a discussion among these panelists:

"Banding together for truth" is sponsored by ABC News and will take place from 5 - 6:15 p.m. MDT in room Colorado B.

Sign up to help others or to get mentorship through the IRE21 mentorship program.

The 2021 IRE virtual conference will feature IRE’s partnership with, where IRE members can sign up to mentor other professional journalists at various stages in their careers as well as student journalists. Any journalist seeking mentorship can visit the site to find a mentor who suits their needs and sign up for an appointment to meet the mentor virtually. 

IRE members who have volunteered as mentors are on the IRE Investigative page of The website also features mentors in several other areas, such as audience engagement, audio, data and marketing. Mentees are welcome to sign up for mentorship in any area, but only verified IRE members are on the IRE page and only IRE members will participate in the IRE21 mentorship program.

IRE mentors and their mentees will have a special session at the virtual IRE21 conference. The session is set for 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Tuesday, June 15. There will be tips on best practices for mentors and for mentees and how to get the most out of the mentor-mentee relationship as well as information on how to use the website.

Here’s how to participate.

For mentors:

Sign up using this form by 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Monday, June 7. You must be an IRE member to be listed on the IRE Investigative page of The site uses the Calendly app, allowing you to choose your availability and allowing mentees to sign up for the specific time slots you list. Mentors agree to abide by the IRE Code of Conduct.

After you fill out the form, IRE will verify your membership and your profile will be posted to the IRE page on You must sign up by June 7 to provide mentorship during the conference; however, you can sign up any time throughout the year if you aren’t able to be a mentor at the conference.

There is no minimum time requirement to be a mentor, although IRE encourages mentors to increase their availability during conference week, June 14-18, to accommodate increased demand.

When you register for IRE21, sign up for the June 15 mentorship session. Mentors also will receive a coupon code for a discounted conference rate. 

For mentees:

Visit the IRE Investigative page of, which lists mentors who are IRE members, along with their specialties. Look for a mentor who matches your needs and availability and sign up through the site for a virtual appointment with that mentor. 

If you can’t find a mentor with availability during conference week, you can try again in the following days and weeks. More and more mentors will be signing up as the June 7 deadline approaches. 

Attendance at the conference is encouraged, though not required to participate in the mentorship program. When you register for IRE 21, sign up for the June 15 mentorship session. The early bird rate ends Monday, May 24.

If you have any questions, please send an email to

Ron Nixon, global investigations editor for The Associated Press and a longtime IRE member, will be the keynote speaker at the IRE21 virtual conference in June.

The conference will include several other featured speakers who will talk about their experiences covering the pandemic, social justice protests, Asian-American hate, international corruption and more.

As the keynote speaker, Nixon embodies the spirit of IRE through his commitment to mentorship, training and volunteering with the organization.

“The board is excited to have chosen Ron as the keynote for this year’s annual conference,” IRE Board President Cheryl W. Thompson said. “Whether it’s mentoring younger IRE members or pitching in on a panel, Ron has contributed so much to this organization over the years. And his commitment to diversity is unwavering. We look forward to his inspiring message.”

Nixon joined the AP in early 2019 as international investigations editor, managing a team of investigative reporters in the U.S. and abroad. He was promoted to global investigations editor in March 2020.

Nixon has a passion for training and mentoring other journalists. He was training director at IRE from 2000 to 2003 and also is co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society, which trains journalists of color in investigative techniques.

He started his journalism career at South Carolina Black Media, a statewide weekly Black newspaper, and also has worked as data editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and as environment and investigative reporter at The Roanoke Times in Virginia.

Prior to joining the AP, Nixon was homeland security correspondent for the New York Times. He has reported from Mexico, Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other places. He is author of the book “Selling Apartheid: South Africa’s Global Propaganda War.”

He has won numerous accolades during his career, including most recently the News Leader of the Year Award, the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism, Virginia Press Association Public Service Award and the National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Award.


Dr. Sheri Fink, a correspondent at The New York Times, in conversation with Caroline Chen, who covers health care for ProPublica 
Fink's recent work has focused on hospitals treating Covid-19 patients and on other aspects of the pandemic, including, with Mike Baker, "It's Just Everywhere Already," which received a Sidney journalism award. A former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, Fink received her M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.
Julia Gavarrete, a Salvadoran journalist for El Faro, in conversation with Patricia Clarembaux of Univision 
Gavarrete specializes in political issues, violence and its impact on children and vulnerable communities. One of her main objectives as an investigative journalist is to open a space for a form of storytelling not fully explored in El Salvador: giving a human face to the problems faced by a country full of stories. She's collaborated with The New Yorker, The Guardian, BBC, Al Jazeera, Elle, ProPublica, Univision and more.
David Jackson, a senior investigative reporter at Better Government Association, in conversation with Ellen Gabler of The New York Times 
Jackson was a longtime investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune and left last year after leading efforts to recruit local investors to purchase the paper from the hedge fund AldenGlobal Capital. At the Tribune he was a four-time Pulitzer finalist for articles that prompted law enforcement indictments and legislative reforms. His investigations often focus on injustices faced by vulnerable populations.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, incoming Tokyo bureau chief of The Washington Post, in conversation with Vicky Nguyen of NBC News 
Lee also is president of the Asian American Journalists Association, which has been providing guidance for journalists covering hate and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, especially in the wake of the Atlanta mass shooting in March. Previously, Lee covered diplomacy, election administration and money and influence in politics on the national political enterprise and accountability team and was a reporter for The Post's Fact Checker. Before joining The Post in 2014, she was a government accountability reporter at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
Romina Mella, senior investigative reporter and founding member of IDL-Reporteros, an independent investigative media outlet in Peru, in conversation with Mark Rochester, managing editor at inewsource in San Diego
IDL-Reporteros is the first digital, non-profit media outlet in Peru wholly dedicated to investigative journalism. Founded in 2010, IDL-Reporteros has published more than 1,400 stories about corruption at the top levels of government and corporations, drug trafficking, organized crime, extractive industries and violations of consumer rights.
Pierre Thomas, chief justice correspondent for ABC News, in conversation with Cheryl W. Thompson, senior editor for station investigations and investigative correspondent for NPR
Thomas has covered many national news stories, including the death of George Floyd and the following protests against racial injustice and police brutality; the Mueller investigation; and investigations into how COVID-19 spread so quickly throughout the U.S. He has been with ABC since November 2000. 
Wendi C.Thomas, founder, editor and publisher of MLK50:Justice Through Journalism, in conversation with Tisha Thompson of ESPN
Thomas founded MLK50 in 2017 as a one-year project that grew into a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on poverty, power and public policy in Memphis. She is the 2020 Selden Ring Award winner for investigative reporting, and won an IRE Award in 2019 for her “Profiting from the Poor” investigation.
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