The New England Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom based at Boston University, has made its objectives clear. Right next to their mission statement to ensure the survival of serious, in depth, investigative journalism is a line that says: “to train a new generation of investigative reporters.”
“That’s been one of our major goals since the moment we opened our doors in January 2009,” says co-founder and co-director Joe Bergantino.
Now in its third year, NECIR’s Investigative Reporting Workshop for High School Students has garnered much success, helping secure NECIR’s financial sustainability.
Fifty-four high school students from 15 states and six countries spent two weeks at NECIR this summer. They raised $107,000, more than double the program’s gross revenue last year, and nearly doubled their enrollment.
The high school summer program teaches aspiring journalists the how-tos of investigative journalism, from finding investigative story ideas, to background checks, reporting ethics, and web and print presentation of finished stories. Each student works on an investigative team and produces a story on topics such as money and politics, food safety, hate crimes, and airline safety.
“Several students told us this program was one of the best experiences of their lives so far and that it cemented their interest in investigative reporting. It’s been successful beyond our wildest dreams,” Bergantino told INN.
NECIR also hosts a certificate program, specifically targeting international journalists. The program was launched this year, grossing $17,000. Nine journalists from countries including Nepal, Nigeria, India, Iran, Singapore, Mexico and Brazil –and one from California–learned the nuts and bolts of investigative reporting. Each worked on an investigative story of their choosing and left with a partially or fully developed story to bring back to their newsrooms.
The McCormick Foundation funded the tuition, room and board for one student attending the high school workshop from Chicago. The fees of two other Chicago-area students were underwritten by a donor in New York City. A grant from the Open Society Institute covered the costs of a journalist from Nepal who attended the center’s certificate program.
“These major foundations and generous donors understand the impact training has on the future of investigative reporting,” said Bergantino. “The reporters we train will ensure government accountability in parts of the world that desperately need it. The high school students we train are the future of our profession.”