Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Investigative Reporters & Editors conference will be a virtual event rather than an in-person gathering.
Set for Sept. 21-25, a student and an instructor from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media were awarded the opportunity to attend the virtual event.
Tupelo native Abbey Edmonson is majoring in journalism with minors in English and creative writing with an emphasis in social media. She has been working as an intern and editorial assistant at Invitation Oxford and Invitation Magazine for over a year, and she aspires to work for a national publication.
She was awarded the James Richard Bennett Scholarship, given to journalism students in Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma or Louisiana, that provides a one-year student IRE membership and a complimentary conference registration. If the conference had not been moved online, the scholarship would also cover some travel fees and up to three nights in a hotel.
“I’m so excited to attend the conference,” Edmonson said. “I love taking any chances I can get to further my journalism experience. I hope to gain a better understanding of investigative reporting and how to do it effectively. I think I’m most excited about interacting with experienced journalists and growing my network.”
Edmonson applied for the scholarship, and she encourages students to apply for other opportunities they find online and elsewhere.
“My best advice to other students is to just apply, even if they don’t feel qualified,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much work I produced during my time at school that I was proud of and ready to submit as an application until I started applying to this conference and other opportunities like it.”
Journalism professor LaReeca Rucker will also be attending the conference. She was selected as one of the recipients of an Eric B. Sager Scholarship that came with a one-year IRE membership and paid conference registration.
The scholarship was established through an estate gift by the late Eric B. Sager, an IRE member from West Virginia, who worked mainly in trade publications. The scholarship is for U.S.-based journalists and independent journalists, and those who are from trade publications and small outlets.
“I attended the IRE conference in Orlando in 2018 for the first time and found it to be jam-packed with valuable information and rock star speakers from the journalism world,” Rucker said. “I learned a lot, and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the 2020 conference and bring what I learn back into the classroom.”