Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting celebrates its fifth anniversary

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The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting – a national journalism organization committed to supporting journalists of color – is celebrating its fifth anniversary.

“It’s a long way,” said Rhema Bland, director of the Ida B. Wells Society.

The organization was founded by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Ron Nixon, Associated Press editor-in-chief, and Topher Sanders, journalist on the race, inequalities and the legal system of ProPublica.

Bland said the company does not have a specific date assigned to its founding, but identifies its official debut as taking place at the National Association of Black Journalists conference in 2016.

She said in an email that the Ida B. Wells Company has not hosted any specific birthdays this fall due to the pandemic, but hopes to celebrate next year.

Bland added that she is proud of how far the organization has come. The company’s leadership began with Tampa Bay Times reporter Hannah-Jones, Nixon, Sanders and Corey Johnson brainstorming ideas for potential useful resources to grab the attention of major news agencies and celebrities, such as than Michael Jordan.

“We are bringing the attention of Michael Jordan and the Jordan brand, said Bland. “People are talking about us everywhere. “

She said the founders are also very proud of all the people they have been able to help with resources and their internship program, which connects its members to career opportunities in top newsrooms and brands. plan.

Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand’s Black Community Commitment recently donated a million dollar grant to the company to help fund the internship program and other resources.

Candace Montague, a freelance journalist from Washington, DC, has taken advantage of the Ida B. Wells Company’s many resources.

“They’ve been wonderful since they started, and they’ve helped spread information that those of us who are black journalists need to know,” Montague said. “They inspired me a lot to get into investigative journalism because I always had a kind of curiosity about this field, but I never knew where to start, where to start or even how to find out. . “

She said looking at what the Ida B. Wells Company has built over the years and leveraging the articles, workshops and webinars they share has motivated her to pursue a career in investigative journalism.

Zshekinah Collier, a recent American University journalist, was part of the first batch of the Ida B. Wells Society internship program. She worked at USA Today on the investigative team.

“It was an experience like no other,” she said. “Even though it was virtual, it was one of the best internship experiences I’ve had. Firstly, because it was so hands-on, I was able to work on a range of projects and work in different teams. .

Collier was able to build many relationships through the program. She always receives help from her internship tutor with job applications.

Bland said she heard the founders say that was what it was about – paying next. They are already successful journalists, and they want to extend that to the next generation.

Bland said the UNC board’s initial failure to offer Hannah-Jones tenure over the summer made the dynamic between the company’s founders and the university awkward, but said that the Hussman School and its teachers had always been supportive.

“They stood behind us,” she said. “They’re amazing allies in all of this. So that helped, but being outward looking was tough, and there was also a lot of uncertainty, which made it tough.”

Montague said she was grateful the founders of the company brought their idea to fruition because it was necessary.

“I want to thank the founders for providing these resources and for being there for those of us,” she said, “especially those of us who are freelancers who need their help. support and who are alone. “

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