The special way a university in Birmingham is honouring late Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee

Journalist and student Lyra McKee was killed while observing riots in Northern Ireland in 2019 - her legacy is being honoured in Birmingham

A university lecturer in Birmingham is honouring the legacy of late journalist and student Lyra McKee, who was killed whilst observing riots in Northern Ireland in 2019.

Professor Paul Bradshaw, course leader for the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University, has organised an on-campus event on Tuesday 28 March 2023 to help protect Lyra’s legacy.

The Belfast-born editor and writer studied for a distance learning Master’s degree at the University between 2012 and 2014. Prof Bradshaw is establishing an annual memorial lecture in her honour and describes her as a ‘very special student’.

Lyra was shot dead in the Creggan area of Derry, during unrest. The first edition of the Lyra McKee Memorial Lecture will see award-winning investigative journalist and FOI campaigner Jenna Corderoy deliver a talk to students, staff, media, and members of the public.

The open Democracy reporter has used the Freedom of Information Act to investigate issues from ‘dark money’ and secret lobbying to Government monitoring of journalists and police spying on environmental campaigners. Her work has appeared in VICE, the iPaper, and Byline Times.

Jenna Corderoy also works with the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Lyra McKee bursary scheme which aims to widen access in the industry for people from underprivileged backgrounds.

The Lyra McKee Memorial Lecture, co-ordinated by Birmingham City University School of Media and the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, will be introduced by Professor Paul Bradshaw, who has written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, and has worked on investigations for the BBC and Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Professor Paul Bradshaw said: “Lyra was an inspirational figure and I wanted to find a way to keep her legacy alive while also inspiring young journalists who might follow in her footsteps.

“Many BCU students and journalists in Birmingham might not even be aware that Lyra McKee studied here – so I decided that a memorial lecture was a good way of remembering her achievements.

“I spoke to Lyra’s sister Nichola and she agreed that it would be a fabulous way to honour her. I felt it is important that speakers reflect the principles that Lyra stood for: inclusivity, creativity and holding power to account.”

Lyra McKeeLyra McKee
Lyra McKee

A winner of the Sky News Young Journalist Award in 2006 at the age of 16, then named as one of the ‘30 under 30 in media in Europe’ by Forbes a decade later in 2016, Lyra McKee had forged a reputation as an inspiring and tenacious investigative journalist.

During her career, she also delivered training courses to journalists at The Times and The Sunday Times, presented an acclaimed TEDx talk at Stormont and authored two books.

In 2017 Lyra returned to Birmingham City University for the Rethink Media conference to speak about class bias in journalism. She was named in the "Best of Irish: 10 rising stars of Irish writing" list by Irish Times Books Editor Martin Doyle, a month before she was shot.

Her success in journalism meant she increasingly dedicated her time to researching and breaking news stories; her achievements in this field meant she was unable to formally graduate from the University.

In January 2020, Lyra McKee was posthumously awarded a Master of Arts degree in Online Journalism by Birmingham City University. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session. Reserve a free place for the inaugural Lyra McKee Memorial Lecture via Eventbrite

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