FIRE Services


  1. Help Desk services
    The Help Desk provides selected applicants with up to an hour of complimentary help, on a one-time basis, in the following areas:

    1. Funding referrals
      If you have a story idea but no funding to report it, we would provide advice or refer you to funding sources for the story’s reporting expenses. If you don’t have a specific project or are new to the field, we would provide a general overview of the funding landscape.
    2. Editorial advice
      If you need general counseling, we would provide brief feedback and advice—including on developing a story or finding an appropriate outlet for it.

  2. Virtual Newsroom
    FIRE stipends
    Reporters receive stipends of $2,500 to $5,000 to cover time only, not expenses. Several organizations provide grants for reporting expenses, which these stipends are designed to supplement.
    To accompany a FIRE stipend, any of the following services may be available on a case-by-case basis:

    1. Editorial and reporting

      • Editing, early stages
        Developmental editing at the outset of a story: help formulating pitches and early-stage stories for pitch to a funder or an outlet. (Note: FIRE generally does not provide editing help on pieces that an outlet has already commissioned or that an editor is already working on.)
      • Editing, late stages
        Developmental editing on a reported story: help with new angle or general advancement, if a proposal needs to be re-pitched to a funder or outlet. (Note: FIRE generally does not provide editing help on pieces that an outlet has already commissioned or that an editor is already working on.)
      • Research requests
        Database searches and other high-powered tools: For specific research needs requiring access to Lexis/Nexis or Accurint, the successful applicant would submit a request to FIRE, and have a FIRE researcher at IRE headquarters field the request and send back the results.
      • Freedom of Information Act requests
        Assistance in obtaining government documents via the Freedom of Information Act—general referral and guidance. In select cases, we may arrange pro bono legal help on FOIA requests. (Note: FIRE does not provide legal advice.)
      • Transcription assistance
        In limited cases, we will underwrite transcribers to supplement any necessary transcriptions of interviews, for both print and broadcast. To a limited extent we can also help with data entry.

    2. Working with outlets

      • Story placement
        If you have financed and reported a story to any extent, but need help identifying an appropriate editor or outlet for the work, we may be able to help connect you with such an editor or outlet.
      • Contracts
        Provision of mutually agreeable contract language: We may be able to provide boilerplate contract language, potentially adaptable to particular circumstances, relevant to legal protection and copyright. In select cases, where available, we may be able to arrange pro bono legal help in the customization process. (Note: FIRE does not provide legal advice.)

    3. Advanced Assistance

      • Fact-checking
        Available only in the rare instances in which 1) an outlet is unable to provide adequate fact-checking, or 2) a reporter or outlet would benefit from fact-checking in advance of an outlet’s own fact checking process.
      • Legal review
        Referrals for legal review and fact-checking to “bulletproof” a story against libel. In rare cases, and only where available, we may be able to arrange pro bono legal help for legal review. (Note: FIRE does not provide legal advice.)
      • Indemnification
        Guidance and general intelligence on how to navigate the question of legal protection for a story. We will provide you a form to fill out, which would inform outlets and/or insurers in their decision to indemnify you for the story. (This is NOT a formal certification). In rare cases, only where available, we may be able to arrange pro bono legal counsel on issues related to indemnification. (Note: FIRE does not provide legal advice.)

    4. Funding Referrals

      • Advice on obtaining additional grants and multiple grants
        If you have already received a grant for reporting expenses on a story and still need more funding, we may be able to refer you to additional funding sources. Where appropriate and possible, we may be able to facilitate your receipt of multiple grants for the story.

    5. Professional development

      • Trainings
        FIRE trainings, customized for freelance investigative reporters, cover the business side of being a freelancer as well as editorial demands of freelance investigations. Initial workshops took place at IRE’s annual conference in New Orleans June 16-19, 2016, where Virtual Newsroom applicants received stipends for travel and accommodations.


    For more information, visit Guidelines and FAQs.