FIRE Introduction 

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 and editorial services. 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, and contributions from a community of generous individual donors. In April, 2021, we announced a $75,000 gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies for contract-related legal assistance, later extended through 2022-2023.

In addition to legal assistance, FIRE offers a range of research assistance, reporting tools, and training services in collaboration with IRE. In a partnership with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, FIRE arranges access to non-contract-related legal services, including pre-publication legal review and open-records appeals. 

FIRE does not publish, broadcast, or release stories in any way—nor assign or initiate stories. The program selects proposals from investigative freelancers, helping their work appear in various media outlets.

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 for the field and included solutions recommended by freelancers. It led to the creation of two programs for investigative freelancer 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, as part of the FIRE Consultancy program, addresses another need the survey had identified, help with Legal Assistance.

Beyond those direct services, FIRE seeks to:

  • engage the philanthropic community to ensure a greater number of grants to freelancers, and in greater amounts, especially to compensate reporting time.
  • encourage a transparent exchange within the freelance journalism field 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; communicate and exchange intelligence with one another; and promote the highest standards in the field.

Interested in applying to FIRE? The application can be found on the FIRE Guidelines page. Additional freelancer-related resources can be found here.

Note: Applicants will automatically receive periodic e-newsletters on the issues, and anyone else wishing to receive them may sign up here. FIRE does not collect or store any person's contact information for any purpose besides dissemination of the e-newsletters, except where it secures the person's permission to do so.