New Journalism Society Launches With Goal of Boosting Diversity

With the support of CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism, the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting hopes to help improve diversity in the reporting sphere. The new group's namesake is a legendary reporter known as a prominent critic of lynching.

Ida B. Wells, born into slavery in Mississippi just months before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, grew into an uncompromising journalist who investigated the horrors of lynching.

Having stood up on the issue at a time when such an investigation was particularly risky, it only makes sense that today, 85 years after her passing, she’s become the face of a new organization that hopes to emphasize the importance of diversity in investigative journalism.

The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, announced over the weekend, is a new membership-based group that hopes to increase the number of reporters and editors of color who are involved in the field.

The society, supported by the City University of New York’s CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, was founded by four veteran black reporters: Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine, Ron Nixon of The New York Times, Corey Johnson of The Marshall Project, and Topher Sanders of ProPublica. A number of other journalists, including National Book Award recipient and Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, serve on the group’s board.


In a statement on its website, the founders emphasize that improving diversity in the ranks of journalism is an important goal of the group.

“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,” the website stated.

To that effect, the group—which is waiving its $20 membership fee for the first year—is launching a set of low-cost training sessions at locations around the country, with the first taking place at North Carolina Central University in October.

While this group is perhaps the one most directly inspired by the work of Wells, other investigative journalism groups have attempted to carry Wells’ mission into the modern day.

In particular, the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund launched a fellowship in Wells’ name earlier this year, offering a $10,000 award to four young journalists from diverse backgrounds. The journalists, who receive additional support from the institute, are expected to publish findings from their reporting within one year of the fellowship’s start.

Ida B. Wells, the namesake of the new society. (Wikimedia commons)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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