Cart 0 $0.00
IRE favicon

IRE23 Conference recap

Investigative Reporters and Editors concluded another successful IRE Conference, June 22-25  in Orlando, Florida.

While we were in the theme park capital of the world, sources say IRE23 was just as thrilling: “THIS is like Disney (World) to me,” University of Missouri student Claudia Levens said.

IRE23 in review

We welcomed more than 1,300 conference attendees and organized more than 200 panel discussions, classes and networking sessions over the four-day conference at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. 

We made new friends and reunited with old ones. From networking sessions and mentorship meetings, to the random run-ins with former colleagues, editors and professors, IRE23 attendees had much to reflect, reminisce and talk about.

Lauren McGaughy, investigative reporter at Dallas Morning News, and Riley Bunch, city hall reporter at The Atlanta Journal Constitution, found the conference inspiring.

“Getting a little break from work and getting to learn, which we don’t really get time off to do a lot anymore as working journalists, has been very fulfilling,” McGaughy said. “It’s great to catch up with people from the last several papers I’ve worked at and see what work they’re doing now. It’s very exciting.”

“It’s very easy in our industry to get discouraged about what you’re doing,” Bunch said. “But then when you’re surrounded by journalists who are doing amazing work despite any challenges they might have in their newsroom or on their beats, it reinvigorates you to want to be in the field and pursue stories that you want to pursue.”

We met cute dogs. We had some fun on TikTok. 

We drank a lot of coffee and got lost on the way to several sessions. We treasured meeting our journalism idols in real life, and we heard the words “I know you from Twitter” more than once. 

We shared business cards and laughs. We were moved to tears.

Bob Segall, investigative reporter at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, shared this scene from Boyd Huppert’s master class, “It’s just video… Until a storyteller creates an experience.”

“Does YOUR industry conference move you to tears? The line of attendees waiting to speak with @BoydHuppert after his epic writing seminar is out the door,” Segall tweeted. “At the front of the line, Boyd is giving a comforting hug. The power of finding the right words is overwhelming.”

And just a week after the conference, journalists including Nicholas Florko of Stat News and John Bedell of WHIO-TV are already using the skills they learned at IRE23.

“The fact that I have now run a Python script and used Tabula in one day, despite not knowing what either of those were last week, is proof enough that everyone should go to the IRE conference at least once in their career,” Florko shared on Twitter.

Tipsheets and audio recordings

Did you come to Orlando but miss a speaker you really wanted to hear? Don't worry. We've got you covered. Accessing speaker's presentation slides and supplements in the IRE Resource Center is a perk of IRE membership. Not every session at IRE23 will have additional materials, and not every session was recorded (audio coming soon).

Speakers, if you have not done so already, please send your tipsheets and other materials to IRE23 materials received so far are already online. 

News from the awards luncheon

At the IRE23 awards luncheon, we celebrated the best investigative journalism of 2022  and congratulated the IRE Award winners and finalists across 19 categories — selected out of more than 400 entries.

We honored late Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, posthumously awarding him the IRE Don Bolles Medal. German was killed at his home in September 2022; a county official who was the subject of German’s reporting has been charged with murder in his death.

Three of German’s colleagues, Rhonda Prast, Briana Erickson and Art Kane, delivered a powerful joint keynote address about him and the continuation of his work. 

“When you kill a reporter, you don’t kill the story,” Erickson said.

She urged attendees to remember German “for the impactful work he did, and not for the heinous way he was killed.” German was best known for his relentless dedication to uncovering government corruption and exposing the misdeeds of Sin City’s notorious mob figures.

Also at the awards luncheon, IRE proudly announced the organization has named its Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship in honor of Chauncey Bailey, a respected journalist who was covering his community of Oakland, California, when he was murdered in August 2007. His sister, Lorelei Waqia, and Bob Butler and Thomas Peele of The Chauncey Bailey Project were recognized at the ceremony.

And we inducted the first two honorees into the new IRE Ring of Honor. This fundraising initiative honors IRE members who have made significant contributions to the organization and to the field of investigative journalism. The first inductees are IRE legends: the late David Donald of Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University and the late Tom Torok of The Washington Post. Torok’s widow, Elena Torok, and their daughter Cece Lentini Torok accepted the plaque in his name. Colleague and former IRE board memberJennifer LaFleur received it on behalf of Donald’s family.

Another highlight of the IRE23 awards luncheon was the presentation of the annual Golden Padlock Award, the dubious “honor” recognizing the most secretive government agencies in the United States. Staunchly blocking the release of internal emails about a growing public health risk involving nitrate pollution earned Nebraska’s Department of Environment & Energy the 2023 Golden Padlock Award.

Additional programming highlights 

DBEI, Spanish-language programming, and mental health for journalists

This year’s conference helped foster IRE’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

IRE hosted several Spanish-language sessions for the first time, featuring panel discussions with speakers and personalized one-on-one feedback sessions. We also hosted panels on how to investigate LGBTQ+ issues in the legal system and how to report on the anti-trans legislation across the country. 

Krystal Nurse, diversity stories reporter at Lansing State Journal, was excited to attend these sessions, especially with the current political climate.

“I want to know how (in) my reporting, how I can help demystify a lot of the rhetoric behind the LGBTQ+ community and the stuff that’s trying to damage them,” Nurse said. 

In the course of sessions at IRE23, journalists also talked about mental health, a theme important now more than ever. 

An IRE23 showcase panel focused on the Uvalde school shooting and the lessons learned from covering tragedy. This emotional session featured Kimberly Rubio, a journalist in Uvalde, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in the mass shooting. With the rush to break news and get the story, she reminded journalists there are real people on the other side of the camera.

"Always remember why you got into this field,” Rubio said. 

Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, shared guidance on interviewing people with trauma. Journalists can be sensitive by being extra transparent in the reporting process, spending time with sources and going the extra mile to get permission.

“We need to understand that every trauma survivor is someone who has lost a huge sense of agency, of control,” Shapiro said. 

At the panel “Finding balance: How to manage stress at work at home,” Zack Newman of KUSA-TV, independent journalist Peter Nickeas and Neena Satija of the Houston Chronicle, discussed tips for dealing with trauma as reporters.

Their tip sheet – which you can view here – highlights how trauma can build up over time and present in real time. One major piece of advice is to remove your entire self-worth from your profession; you are more than just a journalist.

IRE Board election results

Lastly, we have several new faces in leadership! We’re excited to have new members elected to the Board of Directors, including Hyuntaek “Tag” Lee, a journalist from South Korea, the first international member to serve on the board since 2014, and two new Contest Committee members. Soon after IRE23 concluded, the board convened to vote on officers for 2023-24. Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times is the new president.

The board is seeking volunteers for committees, where you can discuss your ideas and help to develop policy and set the future direction of our organization. If you’re interested, fill out this form by Friday, July 14. To find out more about what it’s like to serve on a committee, join us at a Q&A webinar Thursday, July 13, at 5 p.m. EDT.

Thank you, sponsors!

IRE is able to host our annual conference and grow in our mission of training investigative journalists thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. We raised more than $230,000 for IRE23!

We very much appreciate our IRE23 sponsors: ABC News, ABC Owned Television Stations & ESPN, Arnold Ventures, Bloomberg, Knight Foundation, NBC News/NBCUniversal Local, CNN, Google Trends, Gray Television, ProPublica, Sinclair Broadcast Group, TEGNA Foundation, Houston Chronicle, Lumina Foundation, Napoli Management Group, National Association of Broadcasters, Scripps News, Shullman Fugate PLLC, Wallace House Center for Journalists, ​​Central Florida Foundation, Cox Media Group, George Washington University, School of Media & Public Affairs, Global Investigative Journalism Network, Graham Media Group, Holland & Knight, Investigative Reporting Workshop/American University, McClatchy, Newspack, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Thomas & LoCicero

Thank you also to our members for attending and presenting at the conference. We look forward to seeing you at upcoming IRE events! 

IRE23 photo album

Find conference photos by Rashika Jaipuriar available via this public photo album in Google Drive. The photos have also been loaded to IRE's Facebook page as an album.

Upcoming events and opportunities

IRE offers training throughout the year. Check our event calendar for upcoming programming near you! 

Upcoming conference dates and sites are confirmed. Join us online at AccessFest, October 12-14, an all-virtual conference focused on increased accessibility for high-quality training for all, and NICAR 2024 in Baltimore, March 7-10. IRE 2024 will be in Anaheim, California, June 20-23.

We also have fellowship and scholarship opportunities for journalists at all stages of their careers to attend IRE conferences and training events. We are now accepting applications for our Freelance Fellowship and Chauncey Bailey fellowship.

109 Lee Hills Hall, Missouri School of Journalism   |   221 S. Eighth St., Columbia, MO 65201   |   573-882-2042   |   |   Privacy Policy
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram
My cart
Your cart is empty.

Looks like you haven't made a choice yet.