Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE) functions as a service bureau for freelance investigative reporters. It develops the capacity of freelance investigative journalists from diverse backgrounds to produce investigations in the public interest, primarily by providing grants, reporting services, and legal services.
FIRE does not publish, broadcast, or release stories in any way—nor assign or initiate stories. We select proposals from investigative freelancers and help them reach publication or broadcast. Led by veteran journalists, FIRE has helped freelancers report stories for outlets across all media, from the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Globe, and the Guardian, to Mother Jones, the New Yorker, and the BBC.
FIRE is a fiscally sponsored project of the national journalism nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). It raises its own funds and operates with complete editorial independence from its funding sources. FIRE has relied on support from the Ford Foundation, a grant from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, contributions from a community of generous individual donors; and grants from Craig Newmark Philanthropies for contract-related legal assistance.
Since its founding, FIRE has offered a range of research assistance, reporting tools, and training services in collaboration with IRE. It began adding legal assistance in 2021. In a partnership with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, FIRE also arranges access to non-contract-related legal services, including pre-publication legal review and open-records appeals.
Founded in 2007 as Project Word, FIRE has its roots in a national survey conducted by Project Word in 2015, Untold Stories, which provided an unprecedented needs assessment featuring solutions recommended by freelancers. It led to the creation of two programs for freelance investigative journalists:
The FIRE Consultancy, for more bandwidth and early-stage help to begin developing stories.
The Virtual Newsroom, for robust, otherwise unavailable resources to fully develop their stories.
In both programs, customized reporting services and editorial tools help reporters develop stories for the public. The new contract-related legal services addresses another need the survey had identified: help with Legal Assistance.
Beyond those direct services, FIRE seeks to:
- engage the philanthropic community to increase grants to freelancers, especially to compensate reporting time.
- encourage a transparent exchange to resolve some of the field’s most pressing issues, including indemnification and libel insurance.
- provide a forum for freelance investigative reporters themselves to mitigate the isolation of their work and promote the highest standards in the field.