Credit: Mousetrap Media

The Centre for Investigative Journalism has announced the Lyra McKee Investigative Journalism Training Bursary in remembrance of the reporter who was shot in Creggan, Northern Ireland last month.

The fund is aimed at supporting young journalists from diverse and underprivileged backgrounds and providing them with the skills and contacts needed to break into the industry.

James Harkin, director, CIJ said the scheme wants to preserve the legacy of McKee by supporting those like her in the early stages of their career.

"Lyra was from a working-class background and familiar with disability, she was a wonderful outlier to this profession who was doing wonderful things and had the most incredible career ahead of her," he said.

"We thought the best way to remember her would be to pass on the torch of her skills to other people through investigative journalism training."

Recipients will get free entry to the three-day #CIJSummer training event on 4-6 July 2019, plus free accommodation and travel. McKee herself used to attend the summer conferences in London and Dublin.

"She kept in touch with us, she was very entrepreneurial and go-getting, trying to set things up and push things forward. She had an interest in teaching and training, and investigative journalism too," Harkin added.

The CIJ Summer training is attended by journalists from large organisations such as Buzzfeed, Guardian and the Telegraph, but is also sees a prominent representation of people with disabilities and from BAME communities on the agenda.

For people from minority and underprivileged backgrounds, this event has a big networking scope, explained Harkin. It is an opportunity to meet potential employers and get ahead of the queue, something they would otherwise miss out on.

"If you can’t afford to have your parents subsidise an internship, it is extremely difficult to get on that first rung of the ladder. The best way to get on that rung it is to meet other journalists and create traditional mentorships in a community of journalists," he said.

"Those soft conversations with other investigative journalists are really good for morale, in terms of planning stories and getting jobs in the profession."

But aside from the networking element, Harkin said there is crucial ground to cover on data journalism, financial journalism and operational security.

"It is the opposite of what you get from a university degree," he said.

"We’ll do a lot this year in terms of open-source intelligence, forensic journalism and the addition of science and technology in journalism. The best way to get a job as a young journalist is to know about all the new stuff that all the old people don’t know about."

The initiative is a stand-alone gesture funded by the Lorana Sullivan Foundation, who has been funding the CIJ since 2003. The deadline for applications is 2 June 2019, and bursaries will be awarded on level of need.

CIJ said there are more educational initiatives to come this autumn aimed at 'narrowing the demographics of the profession via free access to training'.

"We miss Lyra and hopefully out of this terrible tragedy can come some good," Harkin concluded.

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