On the Road

A weekend of Watchdog Workshops

IRE traveled to Los Angeles, Tucson and Laramie last weekend for a trio of Watchdog Workshops. Attendees shared their tips and ideas on Twitter.

Our Los Angeles workshop at USC featured IRE trainer Jaimi Dowdell, independent journalist Ronald Campbell, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter/assistant editor Ellen Gabler, NBC Bay Area reporter Jenna Suskoand Los Angeles Times legal counsel Jeff Glasser.

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Missed the 2014 New York Watchdog Workshop? We’ve got you covered.

IRE last week brought its popular Watchdog Workshop series to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Nearly 250 people attended the event, which included two extra tracks focused on financial and data journalism.

The financial sessions focused on tools to investigate stocks and commodities, hedge funds and more, with speakers from Bloomberg, Reuters, the Times and the Journal. The data track included information on visualization, cybersecurity, storytelling and more, with additional speakers from organizations including ESPN, WNYC and more.

Throughout the two-day event, attendees shared quotes, tips and notes on Twitter using #watchdogworkshop.

Walt Bogdanich, an assistant editor for investigations ...

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IRE trains at Temple's Center for Public Interest Journalism

Last week IRE's Jaimi Dowdell and Liz Lucas led a four-day boot camp in data analysis at Temple University's Center for Public Interest Journalism.

The Center for Public Interest Journalism sponsored the training, lowering the cost from $800 to $200. Participants learned to clean and analyze data using Microsoft Excel and Structured Query Language with Microsoft Access. They also learned how to find data, craft records requests and negotiate for electronic information.

Participants included journalists from the following organizations:

  • The Center for Public Integrity
  • CNNMoney
  • Fort Worth Weekly
  • Metrowest Daily News
  • Philadelphia City Paper
  • Philadelphia Weekly
  • Temple University ...
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Alfred Friendly Fellow falls in love with Excel during IRE training

By Mugambi Mutegi

Editor's note: in July, IRE hosted the 2013 class of Alfred Friendly Fellows for training in training in computer-assisted and investigative reporting, covering Excel spreadsheets and more. One of the fellows, Mugambi Mutegi, wrote about his experience using Excel for the Alfred Friendly Press Partners, republished below.

In the short time I have been alive, I had not until recently come across anybody who, upon using MS Excel for the first time, instantly fell in love with the program.

I’m sure such people exist, but I can hazard that they do not exceed six – worldwide ...

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LaCrosse Tribune reporter turns IRE training into data-driven stories for community

In March, LaCrosse Tribune reporter Chris Hubbuch attended an IRE training event in Wisconsin, where introductions to Excel and data-driven journalism were on the agenda. Since then, he’s produced data-driven stories on foreclosures, property values, crime and waste. He even revelaed that the LaCrosse mayor's pet license was out of date. Using federal data, the LaCrosse Tribune turned a story on deadline showing disparities in hospital charges, complete with an interactive data visualization. Here’s a look at some of the LaCrosse Tribune stories that IRE training helped make possible:

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Tips for covering the Arizona wildland firefighter deaths

Photo courtesy of the Incident Information System.

Editor's Note: As the Yarnell Hill Fire continues to blaze, mourning begins for the lives of 19 firefighters lost in the battle. Reporters are beginning to dig into why this disaster happened. Nate Carlisle, justice editor at The Salt Lake Tribune, has covered wildfires since 2005 and completed a weeklong wildland firefighter certification course. He offers some advice and suggests questions for those wanting to investigate this and other fire tragedies.

  • Don't assume this fire was some unstoppable, freak occurrence of nature. Wildland firefighters are trained to assume every fire is ...
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IRE to offer computer-assisted reporting boot camp at Temple University

IRE will be offering a computer-assisted reporting boot camp at Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn., August 19-22. During these four days attendees will be introduced to analyzing data for stories with spreadsheets and database managers. In addition, they'll learn ways to find data, craft open records requests and negotiate for electronic information.

Because of the generosity from the Center for Public Interest Journalism we're able to offer a reduced flat rate of $200 to attend this hands-on training. Register today as seats are limited.

Experienced IRE trainers will teach you how to summarize data using Microsoft Excel and ...

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Deadline for agribusiness workshop extended to April 14

Navajo boys plow a corn field on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico, date unknown. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.

The deadline has been extended to April 14 for an all-expenses paid reporting workshop on covering agribusiness from The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and Investigative Reporters and Editors, held May 30 to June 2 in Champaign, Ill. Applications must be received by midnight Central Time. 

The workshop will bring together educators, reporters and editors from small-to-midsize newsrooms to hear and learn how to take an in-depth look at the issues surrounding agribusiness. 

Why investigate agribusiness ...

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Investigating agribusiness: A workshop and reporting examples

Navajo boys plow a corn field on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico, date unknown. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Monday is the last day to register for an all-expenses paid reporting workshop on covering agribusiness from The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and Investigative Reporters and Editors, held May 30 to June 2 in Champaign, Ill. The workshop will bring together educators, reporters and editors from small-to-midsize newsrooms to hear and learn how to take an in-depth look at the issues surrounding agribusiness. 

Why investigate agribusiness? Corporate agribusiness is growing each year. Agribusiness produces food ...

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Deadspin reporting of Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax highlights need for backgrounding story subjects

The ability to background a person  is an essential tool for journalists regardless of beat, as shown by news of Lennay Kekua, the deceased girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o who never existed but became one of the prominent storylines in sports this year.

The fact that Kekua was a complete fabrication is a seemingly rare case, but it’s far from the first time someone in a news article wasn’t who they appeared to be. For instance, in September the Chicago Tribune reported that a well-regarded school teacher had fallen on hard times and was living ...

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