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The 3-year-old Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting is setting up its headquarters in UNC’s School of Media and Journalism, the school announced Thursday.
Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (MA), a writer for The New York Times Magazine who has focused on social justice and has emerged as an outspoken voice on education, is one of the founders of the society. She and three others conceived the society in response to what they recognized as a dearth of journalists of color doing investigative reporting.
It is dedicated to increasing and retaining reporters and editors of color in the field and to educating news organizations and journalists on how the inclusion of diverse voices can raise the caliber, impact and visibility of investigative journalism as a means of promoting transparency and good government.
The society offers investigative journalism training workshops throughout the U.S. and is developing a yearlong fellowship program based in New York. Workshops cover the use of advanced technology, interviewing techniques and data-gathering and fact-checking resources, and they build on story pitching, project management and narrative storytelling skills.
The society will be housed in the school’s Reese News Lab. Its namesake was a pioneering black investigative journalist who began her career in Memphis before her press was burned and she was driven out of town after publishing an anti-lynching exposé. Wells died in 1931.
“I’m very proud that we’ve moved to the MJ-school,” Hannah-Jones said. “It’s such a place of journalistic excellence. It means so much to me. And I love that we’re moving to the South. Having a presence there — where so many black journalists are and the people that we write about live — is critical.”
Hannah-Jones was a 2017 recipient of the GAA’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion in journalism are essential to a healthy democracy and a relevant industry,” said MJ-school Dean Susan King. “We’re proud to support an initiative of this caliber to help make newsrooms more reflective of the communities which they report on.”
The Review profiled Hannah-Jones, “Schools of Choice,” in its March/April 2019 issue, available at alumni.unc.edu/CARarchive.