IRE Leads Way for International Efforts Uniting Journalists

By Houston, Brant | Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal, May/June 2006 | Go to article overview

IRE Leads Way for International Efforts Uniting Journalists


Houston, Brant, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal


IRE now is truly an international organization - and just in time.

As threats against investigative journalists increase throughout the world and government interference escalates, journalists throughout the world must work together to combat those threats.

At IRE, we have begun setting up networks and systems to help journalists to do their jobs despite the variety of efforts to keep them from holding governments and businesses accountable.

As part of this initiative our board, staff, and volunteer members have crisscrossed the world over the past decade to train and spread the spirit of cooperative work with our colleagues.

Sometimes, we did this through large formal programs such as Periodistas de Investigacion in which IRE staff, based in Mexico City, provided investigative and computer-assisted training throughout Latin America.

In other cases, individual IRE members joined seminars operated by fellow organizations in countries that included Nigeria, China, Great Britain, Sweden, Bosnia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Korea.

During the same time, we co-founded - with our Danish colleagues - the Global Investigative Journalism Network, which attracts journalists from more than 40 countries to its conferences every other year. We help operate a Web site, www.globalinvestigativejournalism.org, that gives those journalists a place to network and share resources.

Meanwhile, IRE Español (www.ire.org/espanol), a Web site for Spanish-speaking journalists, is increasing its resources every day.

All of this work is showing significant results. Ten percent or more of participants at our annual conferences in the United States are from other countries. An IRE member can now contact a colleague in almost any country when working on a story. Tips, resources and databases are being distributed across borders through the Web.

We are collaborating with more international journalism organizations than ever on seminars and projects. In March, we met with representatives at a conference of the Inter American Press Association QAPA) in Quito, Ecuador to plan cooperation on an investigative reporting institute that IAPA is starting.

Why is this just in time? Because the legal and lethal attacks on investigative journalists are increasing throughout the world. Investigative journalists are beaten and killed, governments seize newsroom computers, and subpoenas and threats of jail increase each month.

In addition, there is the increasing effort by governments to stymie the press through laws and regulations they say are needed to fight terrorism, but often fail to protect the public and instead allow governments to keep unnecessary secrets and threaten journalists with subpoenas and imprisonment. …

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