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IRE announces 50th Anniversary Task Force

(March 6, 2024) COLUMBIA, Missouri — Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), the largest professional journalism association in the United States, is launching a new initiative to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of its founding.

The nonprofit organization, which will reach the milestone in 2025, has created a special task force to plan events to celebrate the occasion.

“Since 1975, IRE has played a crucial role in fostering investigative journalism that has informed the public, held leaders accountable and ultimately made the world better,” said IRE President Brian M. Rosenthal, an investigative reporter at The New York Times. “Now it is time to honor that storied history – and lay a foundation for our next 50 years, and beyond.”

IRE began as a collaborative effort to encourage high-quality investigative reporting during a hotly competitive time in the industry in the wake of the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The founders chose the name IRE in part because they thought it was fitting for a group of impassioned investigators.

The fledgling organization solidified after one of its early members, Don Bolles of the Arizona Republic, was murdered in 1976 while reporting on an investigation and other members banded together from across the country to finish his work.

The new task force will be co-chaired by former IRE President David Boardman, dean of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, and Tisha Thompson, an investigative reporter at ESPN and longtime IRE leader.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate the profound impact of IRE in its first five decades, and to build a foundation for the next five decades,” Boardman said. “I’m excited and honored to be a part of this.”

“I credit IRE/NICAR and its membership for so much of my professional success,” Thompson said. “I am honored to work with David and the other incredible journalists on this task force to celebrate IRE’s history, its bright future, and a remarkable fellowship of journalists helping journalists.”

The task force includes 15 other distinguished reporters and editors from all corners of the industry, a diverse list of some of the world’s top journalists. Their bios are below.

IRE is looking for additional volunteers to support this effort. Boardman and Thompson are planning to create subcommittees to work on various aspects of the initiative. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact president@ire.org

If you would like to donate to honor IRE’s 50th Anniversary, please go to ire.org/donate  and specify that your donation is for the anniversary.  

Investigative Reporters and Editors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It has nearly 5,000 members, making it the largest professional journalism organization in the U.S.

Members of the IRE 50th Anniversary Task Force:

David Boardman, a co-chair of the Task Force, is the dean of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Previously he was the executive editor of The Seattle Times. He served on the IRE Board of Directors between 1997 and 2007, including two terms as the IRE President.

Tisha Thompson, a co-chair of the Task Force, is an investigative reporter at ESPN. Previously she was an investigative reporter at several local television stations in the Washington, D.C., area. She attended her first IRE Conference as a high schooler in 1993 and has played a leadership role in the organization since the early 2000s.

Helena Bengtsson is data journalism editor at Gota Media, a publishing company with 13 titles in Sweden. Previously she worked at Sweden’s national television broadcaster and served as editor of data projects at The Guardian in the U.K. She has frequently helped with organizing NICAR, the annual data journalism conference run by IRE.

Ashley Brown is a senior editor at All Things Considered at NPR. Previously she worked as a producer at ABC News on This Week and in local television news. She was an IRE Philip L. Graham Fellowship recipient in 2013.

Len Downie is a professor at the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University. Previously he worked for 44 years at the Washington Post, including 17 years as the executive editor. He is a co-founder of IRE and one of the original nine members of the Board of Directors. He also served on the Board between 2009 and 2015. 

Cindy Galli is the Executive Producer of the Investigative Unit at ABC News. Previously she was on the investigative team at Inside Edition and ABC’s local station in San Francisco. She has served on the IRE Board of Directors since 2019, including a stint as the IRE Vice President.

Manny Garcia is the executive editor of the Austin American-Statesman, part of the USA Today Network at Gannett. Previously he ran newspapers in Florida. He served on the IRE Board of Directors from 2006 to 2014, including a stint as the IRE President.

Rick Gevers is the owner of Rick Gevers & Associates, which represents many broadcast journalists across the United States. Previously he worked as a local television news director. He has served on the IRE Board of Directors since 2023.

Dianna Hunt is national editor at Indian Country Today, a daily digital news platform that covers the Indigenous world. Previously she was an editor at newspapers in Texas. She served on the IRE Board of Directors between 2003 and 2008.

Ron Nixon is the vice president for investigations, enterprise, partnerships and grants at the Associated Press. Previously he was a reporter at The New York Times. He worked on the IRE Staff as a training director from 2000 to 2003.

Brian M. Rosenthal is an investigative reporter at The New York Times. Previously he worked as a local reporter in Texas and Washington State. He has served on the IRE Board of Directors since 2019, and he is currently the IRE President.

Jim Steele is a retired investigative journalist and author who wrote many iconic stories while at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Time and Vanity Fair. He is one of four people ever to win the IRE Founder’s Award for his contributions to the organization and the industry.

Lea Thompson is a retired investigative journalist who worked for 14 years as the chief consumer correspondent at NBC News. She served on the IRE Board of Directors between 2006 and 2013, including a stint as the IRE Treasurer.

Sisi Wei is the editor-in-chief of The Markup, a nonprofit news publication focused on the impact of technology on society. Previously she worked as a news app developer and editor at ProPublica. She served on the IRE Governance Committee.

Christine Willmsen is the managing editor for investigations at WBUR, the public radio station in Boston. Previously she was an investigative reporter at The Seattle Times and a Nieman Fellow. She is a frequent speaker at IRE conferences and other events.

Rick Yarborough is senior producer at WRC-TV, the NBC station in Washington, D.C. He previously worked at several other local television stations in D.C. and the Carolinas. He is a frequent speaker at IRE conferences and other events.

Lee Zurik is the chief investigative reporter at Fox 8 New Orleans and the vice president of investigations at Gray TV. He previously worked at several stations across the South. He served on the IRE Board of Directors between 2016 and 2020, including a stint as the IRE Vice President.

January 17, 2024

Still Loading,” The Markup investigation, which exposed vast disparities in internet service quality from four major providers, earned the first place prize in the 2023 Philip Meyer Journalism Award.

The Meyer Award recognizes the best uses of social science research methods in journalism. It is named for Philip Meyer, the author of “Precision Journalism,” who pioneered the use of empirical methods to empower better journalism. Read more about Meyer and his legacy here.

Bloomberg News earned the second place award for “Power Plays,” a project that exposed how large U.K. power companies manipulated the country’s feckless energy system to reap profits. Third place goes to a collaboration between Lighthouse Reports, WIRED, Vers Beton and Open Rotterdam for “Inside the Suspicion Machine,” a series that traced the deployment of predictive AI in European welfare systems.  

The judges have also given two special citations in the 2023 Philip Meyer Journalism Award: 

The winners will be honored at the 2024 NICAR Conference, March 7-10 in Baltimore. The award is administered by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Missouri School of Journalism.

First place: “Still Loading,” The Markup
Leon Yin, Aaron Sankin, Joel Eastwood, Gabriel Hongsdusit, Paroma Soni, Jeremy Singer-Vine, Evelyn Larrubia, Sisi Wei

Judges’ comments: ​​For The Markup’s “Still Loading,” reporters gathered and analyzed 800,000 internet service offers from telecom giants in dozens of cities, finding they routinely offered the worst deals to households in lower-income, less white and historically redlined neighborhoods. The reporters adapted methods from an academic study to identify internet offers by address and then used Census data and historical maps to tell a powerful story about a critical social injustice. The judges applaud the team for their resourcefulness, robust validation process and, along with their partner Big Local News, commitment to sharing their bespoke mapping tool with the public. 

Second place: “Power Plays,” Bloomberg News
Gavin Finch, Todd Gillespie, Jason Grotto, Sam Dodge, Alex Campbell

Judges’ comments: For “Power Plays,” Bloomberg News analyzed millions of records obtained through a national data portal and additional records on renewable energy subsidies. The team’s reporting exposed methods that large U.K. power companies used to manipulate the country’s energy system for profit, saddling customers with extra costs. This took place during an energy crisis that caused havoc, including forcing elderly people and low-income families into warming shelters. The judges commend the stories for shining an important spotlight on companies that usually avoid scrutiny despite their impact on people’s everyday lives.

Third place: “Inside the Suspicion Machine,” Lighthouse Reports, WIRED, Vers Beton, Open Rotterdam
Gabriel Geiger, Eva Constantaras, Justin-Casimir Braun, Evaline Schot, Dhruv Mehrotra, Saskia Klaassen, Romy van Dijk, Matthew Burgess, Morgan Meaker, Kyle Thomas, Daniel Howden, Andrew Couts, James Temperton, Eeva Liukku, David Davidson, Danielle Carrick, Htet Aung, Alyssa Walker, Raagul Nagendran, Hari Moorthy, Ishita Tiwari, Lily Boyce, Sascha Meijer, and Roelof van der Meer

Judges’ comments: In “Inside the Suspicion Machine,” Lighthouse Reports, WIRED, Vers Beton and Open Rotterdam gained rare access to the algorithms used to choose subjects for welfare fraud investigations. After nearly one and a half years of negotiation, the reporters obtained the underlying computer code used to flag Rotterdam’s residents, which could cut them off from services and even target them for raids. By studying and testing the risk scoring algorithm, they learned that it did only marginally better than random chance, and targeted people based on their native language, gender and even how they dressed. From there, the reporters followed two archetypes, as typified by more than 300 characteristics, to show audiences the arbitrary, and at times prejudiced, logic of the system. The judges remarked on how rarely news organizations gain access to these often proprietary lines of code, and how important they are to holding governments accountable for their actions.

Special citation: “Putin and Orbán's Media Masquerade: Projecting Unity and Tension in the EU,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Current Time Digital and Szabad Európa

Judges’ comments: "Putin and Orbán's Media Masquerade" is a timely investigation that used textual analysis, such as topic clusterization, to show how Russian and Hungarian propaganda have been interwoven since the war in Ukraine began, and how Hungary supported Russia's invasion. The visualizations were particularly helpful in displaying the analysis of data from 15,000 headlines from the propaganda machines of both countries. The project should inspire other journalists to investigate shared propaganda and disinformation between political parties and countries.

Special citation: “Unhoused and Undercounted,” The Center for Public Integrity in partnership with The Seattle Times, Street Sense Media and WAMU/DCist

Judges’ comments: “Unhoused and Undercounted” told the story of the roughly 300,000 children and youth in the United States who are entitled to rights reserved for homeless students, but are going unidentified by school districts that have the legal obligation to help them. This collective oversight results in the students, disproportionately Black and Latino, lacking the critical support they need to stay in school, graduate and obtain referrals for health care and housing: In short, basic civil rights. Due to its nationwide approach, this analysis broke new ground by measuring the gap between identified and actual homelessness within school districts across the United States. The judges noted the data was also made available to local newsrooms, which was key to the project’s success in telling a story that holds educators to account for failing to serve their most vulnerable students. 

The Meyer Award honors Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer is the author of “Precision Journalism,” the influential 1973 book that encouraged journalists to incorporate social science methods in the pursuit of better journalism. As a reporter, he also pioneered the use of survey research for Knight-Ridder newspapers while exploring the causes of race riots in the 1960s.

The judges for the 2023 Philip Meyer Journalism Award were:

The Philip Meyer Journalism Award follows the rules of the IRE Awards to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that included any significant role by a Meyer Award contest judge may not be entered in the contest. This often represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual — and sometimes an entire newsroom. The IRE membership appreciates this devotion to the values of the organization.

IRE works to foster excellence in investigative journalism, which is essential to a free society. Founded in 1975, IRE has more than 4,500 members worldwide. Headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism, IRE provides training, resources and a community of support to investigative journalists; promotes high professional standards; and protects the rights of investigative journalists. The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting was founded by the Missouri School of Journalism in 1989 and became a collaboration between the school and IRE in 1994.

Contact:

Investigative Reporters and Editors is pleased to announce that Robert L. Santos, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, will speak at the NICAR Conference in Nashville, March 2-5.

Paul Overberg of The Wall Street Journal will join Santos in a moderated conversation followed by audience Q&A.

The panel is scheduled for Friday, March 3, from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. 

“We’re thrilled the director of the U.S. Census Bureau is joining us in Nashville,” said Diana R. Fuentes, executive director of IRE. “The NICAR community is an exceptional mix of reporters, editors, programmers, web developers, and many others who often use census data in their roles. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to learn more about Director Santos and the vision for the future of the census and the Census Bureau.”

Santos’ career spans more than 40 years of survey research, statistical design and analysis, and executive-level management. He previously served for 15 years as vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, where he directed its statistical methods group. He was executive vice president and partner of NuStats, a social science research firm in Austin, Texas. 

Santos, a third-generation Mexican American statistician from San Antonio, Texas, is the first person of color to head the nation's largest statistical agency on a permanent basis.

Paul Overberg is a Washington-based reporter on The Wall Street Journal’s investigations team. Overberg specializes in analyzing data and public records to find stories and collaborates with reporters who cover many subjects. He has taught at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and served as a senior fellow for the Center for Health Journalism at the University of Southern California. Before joining the Journal, he worked as a data journalist at USA Today. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from Rutgers University.

January 25, 2023

A partnership between The Associated Press and PBS FRONTLINE that dug deeply into evidence of war crimes in Ukraine earned the first place prize in the 2022 Philip Meyer Journalism Award. 

Other top honors go to The Los Angeles Times for its project “Extreme Heat's Deadly Toll,” and a collaboration between The Marshall Project, WOVU 95.9 FM Our Voices United and Cleveland Documenters that gives a comprehensive assessment of multiple systems that have bolstered inequities in a marginalized community. 

The judges have also given a special citation to independent journalist Emily Corwin for exposing how tax credits meant to help marginalized workers get permanent jobs are instead used to subsidize temp work.

"This year's entries proved yet again that social science methods raise the ante on what it takes to be a journalist,” said Sarah Cohen, a contest judge and the Knight Chair in Data Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. “The judges paid special attention to the projects and partnerships that highlighted the groundbreaking work Meyer pioneered 50 years ago.”

The Meyer Award recognizes the best uses of empirical methods in journalism. The winners will be honored during the 2023 NICAR Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 2-5. The award is administered by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Missouri School of Journalism.

The 2022 winners are:

First place: “War Crimes Watch Ukraine,” The Associated Press and PBS FRONTLINE

The Associated Press: Erika Kinetz, Lori Hinnant, Cara Anna, Mstyslav Chernov, Evgenyi Maloletka, Vasilisa Stepanenko, Oleksandr Stashevskyi, Michael Biesecker, Beatrice DuPuy, Serginho Roosblad, Marshall Ritzel, Sharon Lynch, Larry Fenn, Sarah El-Deeb, Richard Lardner, Juliet Linderman, Jason Dearen

FRONTLINE: Tom Jennings, Annie Wong, Carla Borrás, Miles Alvord, Anthony DeLorenzo, Priyanka Boghani, Dan Nolan, Aasma Mojiz Chantelle Lee

Judges’ comments: AP and Frontline partnered with organizations to collect evidence of war crimes in Ukraine and store the information in an updated public database to tell stories about attacks on venues such as hospitals, schools and a theater. For the story "AP evidence points to 600 dead in Mariupol theatre strike", the AP used two sets of floor plans, photos and video taken before and after the Russian strike on the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater to create an animated model. Witnesses and survivors walked the journalists through the building virtually, pointing out where people were sheltering room by room and how densely crowded each space was. The analysis determined 600 died. The attack remains the greatest known single loss of human life in the war. This was a riveting piece of journalism detailing unspeakable atrocities that continue to this day. Outstanding work! 

Second place: “Extreme Heat's Deadly Toll,” The Los Angeles Times
Anna M. Phillips, Tony Barboza, Ruben Vives, Sean Greene and Logan A. Arnold

Judges’ comments: The Los Angeles Times found that waves of extreme heat buffeting California over the past decade have likely caused far more than the 599 deaths cited in official records. The 10-month investigation, which overcame resistance from local health officials, used sophisticated analytical techniques to examine an important topic and achieve impact. The reporters scoured hundreds of pages of paper death records and federal and state death databases to build a statistical model to estimate the true total number of deaths from heat. They worked with experts to develop and vet their findings and ultimately made the project's code publicly available in a GitHub repository. Shortly after it was published, local and state officials cited the project when proposing new measures to help protect people from extreme heat.

Third place: “Testify,” The Marshall Project, WOVU 95.9 FM Our Voices United and Cleveland Documenters
Rachel Dissell, Ilica Mahajan, Anna Flagg, Wesley Lowery, Elan Kiderman Ullendorff, Celina Fang, Ashley Dye, Raghuram Vadarevu, John G., Kellie Morris, Michelle Pitcher, Nicole Lewis, Ryan Murphy, Ariel Goodman, Aaron Colby Williams, Katie Park

Judges’ comments: The Marshall Project’s Testify is a comprehensive assessment of not just one, but multiple systems that have bolstered inequities in a marginalized community — from criminal cases to judicial elections, to voting patterns. Reporters spent 18 months gathering court records using a complex — and painfully slow — scraping system, then ran a statistical analysis that allowed the team to identify patterns among people who have cycled through the court system and assess judges' records. They stepped back to vet such findings by reviewing documents, consulting experts, and researching academic approaches. 

Special citation: “A Tax Credit Was Meant to Help Marginalized Workers Get Permanent Jobs. Instead, It’s Subsidizing Temp Work.” Emily Corwin

Judges’ comments: An honorable mention goes to Emily Corwin, for her ProPublica story, “A Tax Credit was Meant to Help Marginalized Workers get Permanent Jobs. Instead, it’s Subsidizing Temp Work”.  It’s only fitting that the social science methods used to develop this story — ethnography and content analysis — were informed by a Neiman fellowship when more than 50 years ago, a Nieman fellowship also inspired Philip Meyer to attempt survey research and to write the groundbreaking Precision Journalism. Corwin spent time watching temp workers in parking lots to help determine the questions she would ask, and developed semi-structured interviews to hone her research. She went further and produced a richly reported story that used traditional reporting methods once her research had pointed her in the right direction.  

The Meyer Award honors Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer is the author of “Precision Journalism,” the seminal 1973 book that encouraged journalists to incorporate social science methods in the pursuit of better journalism. As a reporter, he also pioneered the use of survey research for Knight-Ridder newspapers while exploring the causes of race riots in the 1960s.

The judges for the Philip Meyer Award for Precision Journalism were:

The Philip Meyer Journalism Award follows the rules of the IRE Awards in its efforts to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that included any significant role by a Meyer Award contest judge may not be entered in the contest. This often represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual — and sometimes an entire newsroom. The IRE membership appreciates this devotion to the values of the organization.

IRE works to foster excellence in investigative journalism, which is essential to a free society. Founded in 1975, IRE has more than 5,000 members worldwide. Headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism, IRE provides training, resources and a community of support to investigative journalists; promotes high professional standards; and protects the rights of investigative journalists. The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting was founded by the Missouri School of Journalism in 1989 and became a collaboration between the school and IRE in 1994.

Contact:

Join Investigative Reporters and Editors for a special New York Workshop at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY January 20-21. Sessions on sourcing, backgrounding, business reporting and more will be led by some of the nation's most widely respected journalists, including Wesley Lowery and Walt Bogdanich. Check out the full slate of speakers and sessions, and register today to secure your seat!

As an add-on to the workshop, powerhouse researchers Barbara Gray and Margot Williams will teach a true master class on backgrounding and research: Mindsets, methods, and means of investigative news researchers. This special three-hour session would benefit all reporters and requires an additional fee along with workshop registration.

Coinciding with the first day of the New York Workshop, IRE will also host a special daylong Digging Into Data mini-bootcamp covering the basics of data analysis in the newsroom. IRE trainers Patti DiVincenzo and Adam Rhodes will teach how to find and request data, identify and clean dirty data, find story ideas, bulletproof your work and more. Attending this mini-bootcamp does NOT require registration to the main event.

For questions about registration or general event questions, please contact logistics@ire.org.

Signups are now open for the mentorship networking program at NICAR23 in Nashville.

If you’ll be joining us for the conference, you can sign up by filling out this form. If you can’t make it to Nashville this year but still want to find a mentor, please check out the IRE page at JournalismMentors.com, where you can set up a time to meet virtually with an IRE member mentor.

IRE will match mentors with mentees and arrange for them to meet at a breakfast during the conference. The NICAR23 mentorship breakfast — sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, University of Missouri — will be held from 7:30 - 8:45 a.m. on Friday, March 3, at the conference hotel.

Space is limited in this popular program, and the deadline to apply is midnight CT on Friday, Feb. 17. 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 Feb. 20 in order to participate.

The IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship is a year-long program intended to prepare and support a journalist of color for a solid career in investigative reporting. The program also provides an opportunity for the fellow’s news outlets to benefit from the fellow’s investigative skill-building. An underlying goal of the program is to increase the range of backgrounds, experiences and interests within the field of investigative journalism, where diverse perspectives are critically important.

Sameea Kamal said her experience during the fellowship was "life-changing" and volunteered to answer questions that potential applicants may have. 

Who are you and where are you based?

Sameea Kamal, California politics reporter at CalMatters.

When did you participate in IRE's Journalist of Color fellowship? 

2020.

What project did you work on during the fellowship? 

An investigation of Title IX under the Trump administration, published by The Center for Public Integrity in March 2021.

Why should journalists apply?

There are so many journalists of color who haven’t had access to trainings, mentors or simply the byline opportunities that this fellowship offers – or they haven’t been in a position where they could take advantage of those opportunities. The structure of the fellowship gives you the dedicated space, time and commitment from yourself, newsroom and mentor network to reach the next level in your career.

How was the fellowship helpful in your career as an investigative journalist?

This fellowship was transformative for me to transition back to reporting and writing that I hadn’t been able to do as much of since earlier in my career. It provided me the ability to take journalism trainings I may not have been able to prioritize financially on my own – as well as that commitment to using it for a specific story. My mentor network helped me with the many questions I had throughout the reporting process – from ideas for sources to more philosophical discussions about journalism ethics. As a reporter now focused on state government accountability, I use so much of what I learned nearly every day in ways big and small: being able to scrape a state government’s website, or the beat reporting skills developed through working on one project for a year. 

If you have additional questions for Sameea about her experience, you can reach her on Twitter (@SameeaKamal).

Applicants are also welcome to contact IRE Director of Partnerships Anna López at anna@ire.org for more information about this fellowship and other fellowship opportunities available from IRE.

The application deadline is Oct. 6, 2022. To apply click here.  

CONTACT: IRE Executive Director Diana Fuentes, diana@ire.org, 573-882-1984

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Working with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Investigative Reporters & Editors has established the Jeff German Fund for Investigative Journalism to help continue the kind of game-changing investigations German devoted his life to producing.

German, who joined the Review-Journal in 2010, was killed outside his home in Las Vegas on Sept. 2. A county official who was the subject of German’s reporting earlier this year is in jail without bond, charged with murder in German’s stabbing death.

To get the fund started, the Review-Journal has donated $5,000.

“We honor Jeff by telling the kinds of stories he would chase relentlessly,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “We can think of no better tribute than ensuring that journalists with courage have the training they need to conduct important investigations and hold government accountable. This fund will pay Jeff's legacy forward for a long time to come.”

The IRE Board of Directors and staff have contributed $1,200.

“Jeff’s senseless death evoked a strong resolve from journalists across the country that we will not be intimidated,” said Diana Fuentes, IRE executive director. “This fund will help journalists follow in Jeff’s footsteps, holding those in elected office accountable to the people they serve.”

A veteran investigative reporter of 40 years, German was an early member of IRE, participating in training and networking. Colleagues said his first conference was in San Diego in 1981 and he was an active member at the time of his death.

IRE Board President Mark Walker encouraged fellow journalists to contribute to the new fund.

“We have had many IRE members who have asked how they can help and donating to this fund to honor Jeff German’s work is one of those ways,” Walker said. “It shows that we are undaunted in our pursuit of accountability journalism. It often takes a great deal of time, dogged persistence and a fearless drive to get the job done — that’s what Jeff had. We seek to honor his dedication to journalism and to ensure it continues to thrive.”

Donations can be made in several ways, including PayPal, credit card and text, at the IRE donation link: https://www.ire.org/donate/  Please write “Jeff German” in the message or tribute field.

The fund will help journalists get training in the latest investigative reporting skills as well as tried-and-true methods at IRE conferences and workshops. For information on training opportunities, go to the IRE events page.

IRE is a grassroots, nonprofit organization of more than 5,000 members from around the world, dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting and fostering ethics in journalism. IRE seeks to educate, empower and connect journalists so the people we serve can live in a better, more informed world. For more information, visit www.ire.org

Jeff German
Jeff German, investigative reporter, poses for a portrait at the Las Vegas Review-Journal photo studio on Jan. 19, 2017. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @EliPagePhoto

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Investigative Reporters & Editors condemns the senseless death of Las Vegas reporter Jeff German.

The continuing police investigation indicates German may have been killed in connection with his investigative journalism, work that is the very foundation of our democracy.

“Jeff’s death is a sobering reminder of the inherent risks of investigative journalism,” said Diana Fuentes, IRE’s executive director. “Journalists do their jobs every day, digging deep to find information the public needs to know and has a right to see.”

German, 69, an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was found dead outside his home in Las Vegas the morning of Sept. 3. Police said he had been stabbed after an altercation the previous day. 

On Wednesday, police arrested Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles on suspicion of murder, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. Investigators executed a search warrant at Telles’ home and seized his vehicle.

Telles was the subject of numerous investigative reports by German, centering on allegations that he had fostered a hostile work environment and was involved in an inappropriate relationship with another employee. Telles denied the allegations and had recently posted comments on social media that criticized German’s work, accusing him of publishing “smear” reports. The county official lost his bid for reelection in June after German’s reports were published.

The Review-Journal said in a story Wednesday that German had recently filed requests for emails and text messages between Telles and others.

German, whose career as a columnist and a senior investigative reporter spanned more than three decades, broke stories on organized crime, politics, casinos and corruption for The Las Vegas Sun and then The Review-Journal. He joined The Review-Journal in 2010. 

He was a current member of IRE and first joined the organization in 2001.

“Jeff’s death will no doubt have a chilling effect on some reporters and that is understandable, but it’s a loss for their communities,” Fuentes said. “Every citizen should be outraged by what happened to Jeff German and demand swift, crystal-clear justice. That’s the only way to ensure the spotlight of journalism stays lit for the benefit of the people.”

IRE’s Board of Directors urges all newsroom managers to have serious and frequent conversations with their reporters, producers and photographers who engage in this often-dangerous work, to remind them that their safety is paramount, to take all threats seriously and to report them immediately.

“IRE is shocked and dismayed at the brutal attack that took the life of the renowned reporter Jeff German,” said Mark Walker, President of IRE’s Board of Directors. “Our condolences go out to his family, loved ones and colleagues that reported alongside him throughout his career. Threats are not often carried out, but there’s always a chance someone will be angry enough to act. However, journalists everywhere won’t be intimidated by attacks.”

For many longtime IRE members, German’s death resurrected memories of Don Bolles, who died in 1976, after dynamite hidden under his car seat exploded. A veteran investigative reporter, he had been following a lead on a possible organized crime story.

Bolles’ death sparked the Arizona Project, during which a group of his IRE colleagues from news outlets across the country banded together to continue his work. Nearly two dozen stories were published as a result of that combined effort.

The last time a reporter was killed on U.S. soil in connection with their investigative reporting was in 2007, when Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post, was murdered while investigating corruption and criminal activities connected to Your Black Muslim Bakery. 

IRE will provide coast-to-coast training opportunities for college educators and students as part of the IRE on Campus program now entering its third year. 

Six colleges and universities that all serve a large percentage of historically excluded students, have been selected to receive free custom training — Saint Xavier University, San Francisco State University, Texas State University, Santa Ana College, The City College of New York and Saint Peter's University. Up to 25 students and 2 faculty/staff at each campus will receive free IRE memberships, which provide access to invaluable online resources.

IRE is proud to receive generous funding from Lumina Foundation which helped launch the campus initiative in 2019. The two components of the program align with IRE’s continued efforts to expand its diversity, belonging, equity and inclusion efforts:

“We’re excited to get back on the road and into classrooms across the country,” said Francisco Vara-Orta, IRE’s director of diversity and inclusion, who is leading the training initiative. “It’s more important than ever to give our future generations the skills and tools they need to hold those in power to account.”

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