In a post on the Knight Foundation’s website, New York Times Magazine staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, one of the four founders of the Ida B. Wells Society For Investigative Reporting, tells the origin story of the society, launched last year, and how a new, $150,000 grant from the Knight Foundation will help expand what has been a time-consuming labor of love:
The response to the society, the thirst for the type of training and mentorship we provide, has been among the most gratifying experiences of my life. Still, for the past year, the organization has been run by four journalists who hold other full-time jobs; it has been exhausting and we are stretched thin.
That is why this grant from Knight Foundation is such a game-changer for our burgeoning organization. The grant will go to capacity-building to ensure our organization has a vision and a plan that will ensure our success and longevity.
The money will allow the Ida B. Wells Society, which is geared toward training and promoting the work of journalists of color in investigative journalism, to create its first full-time position and offer more training and mentoring opportunities, as Hannah-Jones details:
Knight Foundation’s funding will enable us to hire our first full-time manager who will help us develop our strategic plan and attract new investment and partnerships. It will also provide funding for training workshops, including three data journalism and coding boot camps geared toward programmers and journalists of color, and to help develop our mentoring program aimed at growing the next crop of investigative reporters and keeping them in the field.
Hannah-Jones’ fellow founders are New York Times Washington correspondent Ron Nixon, Tampa Bay Times reporter Corey Johnson and ProPublica reporter Topher Sanders, who created the society in response to a conversation the four had during a conference they were attending. It included a discussion on newsroom hiring attitudes regarding journalists of color.
The society was created as a way to eliminate one of the most popular justifications for the lack of diversity. “The No. 1 excuse, of course, was that newsrooms wanted to hire diverse candidates, but there just weren’t enough qualified candidates to go around,” writes Hannah-Jones. “We intend to rid newsrooms of the excuses they’ve so long used as we will know there is a pool of qualified applicants—because we will have trained them.”