The Ida B. Wells Society For Investigative Reporting

The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting represents a new take on a familiar mission.

We are a news trade organization with a mission of increasing the ranks, retention and profile of reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting.

Our latest news

July 12-16, 2021 Virtual Data Institute

The Data Institute is a collaboration between The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative ReportingProPublica, and OpenNews. This intensive workshop teaches journalists how to use data, design and code.

The Institute kicked off Friday, July 9, for the first time in an all-virtual format. Unlike in previous years, this year’s event was shortened to a week and open to applicants from around the world.

The live, intensive instruction began Monday, July 12 and continued through Friday, July 16. The Institute was led by Sisi Wei of OpenNews and Lena Groeger of ProPublica. The Ida B. Wells Society funded this year’s event. The Society worked with ProPublica and OpenNews to plan the programming.

The Institute is completely free for the participating students.

With over 300 applications submitted this year, ultimately 12 were chosen for this year’s class. You can read the bios of each student in this year’s class here.

The Institute was launched with an install party hosted by Erika Owens of OpenNews, featuring Wei, Groeger, the Ida B. Wells Society co-founders, ProPublica’s editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg and a number of staff from the Society and ProPublica.

“Oftentimes, when it comes to the types of topics that we’re teaching, the world has all types of preconceptions that they’ve instilled into society about what is hard,” said Wei to the class Monday morning. “I just want to take a moment to reset those expectations for all of us.”

Throughout the week the students will learn about HTML, Javascript, data visualization and a number of other topics. There will also be some guest speakers to close out each day and allow students to ask questions. So far, guest speakers have included Cecilia Reyes of The Chicago TribuneWendi C. Thomas of MLK50, Topher Sanders, Ginger Thompson, and Lisa Song of ProPublica, Katie Park and Anna Flagg of The Marshall Project, Troy Griggs of The New York Times, John Hernandez of API, and Ko Bragg of Scalawag.

On Friday, the Data Institute students were able to share more about what the knowledge that they had gained during their week. Many of the students shared not only what they learned about data and coding but also what they learned about themselves.

“This week has been such a privilege,” wrote Genevieve Finn, a 2021 Data Institute student. “I’ve gotten to make so many new friends and connections, unlocked so many new skills and become 10 times more confident in myself and my capabilities. I feel like I’ve been gifted a vision (and also real-life examples! Ellis was a Data Institute student and now he’s a professor – amazing!) of the type of journalist I could grow into and all the possibilities that come with that, and then gifted the tools to do it.”

You can check out some of the tweets about this year’s Data Institute here. Despite the Data Institute’s shorter timeline and virtual platform this year, it was rewarding to see how engaged the students were with the instructors, guest speakers and one another. 

 “The Data Institute closes the gaps between minorities and puts all journalists, no matter where they come from, on equal ground,” shared Victor Emanuelle, a 2021 Data Institute student. “This is an essential program that truly believes in representation. The tools given will help us tell better stories and represent our communities. Truly in the spirit of Ida B. Wells.”

Ongoing trainings

The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting invites journalists of all skill levels to attend various virtual investigative workshops. We have invited some of the most accomplished journalists in the field to share their expertise. 

These skills-based workshops are free for Society members and will be led by some of the top reporters around the country.

Who we are

The Society seeks to raise the awareness of, and opportunities for, investigative reporting among journalists of color and to foster the desire for social justice journalism and accountability reporting about racial injustice.

Although there are journalism membership organizations that provide training and skills building for investigative reporting and others that serve as advocates for diversity in newsrooms and media organizations, none of these groups adequately serve journalists of color who are interested in opportunities in investigative reporting.

Today, even as ongoing racial inequality roils the national landscape, too few of the journalists doing investigative reporting come from the communities suffering the most. The ranks of investigative reporters in the nation’s newsrooms continue to be overwhelmingly white.

Our mission to is to do something about that

The inaugural Ida B. Wells Society investigative reporting boot camp at North Carolina Central University in Durham.
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