Deadline next week for Philip Meyer awards
It's once again time to enter the Philip Meyer Journalism Award contest. Entries are now being accepted online. The contest recognizes stories that incorporate survey research, probabilities and other social science tools in creative ways that lead to journalism vital to the community. The deadline is November 15, 2013, 11:59 p.m. EST. Enter now.
Google Hangout: Best practices for data journalism
Join award winning data journalists Jennifer LaFleur, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, David Donald, of the Center for Public Integrity and Tom Hargrove of the Scripps-Howard News Service as they talk about their best practices for great data reporting. They'll also be touching on the stories that won them Philip Meyer Journalism Awards (this year's deadline for the awards is next week). Steve Doig of Arizona State University will be moderating.
Tune in November 11th at 11 am CST. To access this webinar and others that IRE has hosted, go here: http://ire.org/events-and-training/online-training/webinars/
Detecting Corporate Fraud: A free pre-CAR Conference workshop
Journalists have one key resource to mine when investigating corporate fraud: the voluminous flow of corporate legal and financial public filings, which provide a clear sense of actual and potential wrongdoing.
Sponsored and organized by the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, this free workshop provides journalists with techniques for digging into U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings and other disclosures to uncover fraud. Journalists will get an understanding of what key financial information is available and where to look in documents to quickly identify trouble spots and how to recognize when crucial details are missing.
The free workshop will take place as a pre-CAR Conference event, from 2-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards.
Theo Francis is an award-winning financial and investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal, specializing in using regulatory documents to dig into corporate behavior. He has worked for BusinessWeek, footnoted.com, Bloomberg News, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and local papers in suburban New Jersey and Southeast Alaska. He has also written for The New York Times’ DealBook, Quartz and NPR’s Planet Money blog, among other outlets.
Roddy Boyd is an investigative reporter and founder of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing document-driven investigative reporting on publicly traded companies.
Learn more about the workshop and speakers ...
Register now for CAR 2014 in Baltimore
Looking to learn skills that will help you and your newsroom thrive? Join IRE and NICAR in Baltimore for our annual conference devoted to computer-assisted reporting, Feb. 27 to March 2, 2014 at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. Come and learn about tools you need to dig deeper into stories and give readers, viewers and your online audience the information they're demanding.
By Liz Lucas
Few things in life (and journalism) are literally irrefutable and nonnegotiable. But we think this list comes pretty close. Journalists who use data come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide spectrum of resources, skills, and time to do the work. Regardless of these differences, we’ve put together some simple rules that apply to a year-long project or a two-day turnaround, to a recent boot camp graduate or a veteran SQL hound, to a spreadsheet or a relational database.
Remember to refer to data as plural, unless you find it annoying (and I do).
Always save a copy of the original data. Keep it somewhere safe. Never mess with it.
Understand the data before you touch it. Read any available documentation, go through the record layout, talk to the agency that keeps and/or created the data.
Assume nothing about your data: what’s in it, what’s not in it, what that ambiguous “date” field refers to; nothing.
Know your data. Run integrity checks on all of your columns, know the range of your date fields, the cleanliness of your geography fields; know it inside and out.
Check record counts. When you import data, check the number of records imported against the documentation, or ask the agency for a record count. When you slice a table or join two tables, make sure the count of the results makes sense.
Never make changes to any of your data columns. Create new columns for those changes.
Be suspicious. If your results don’t look right, or aren’t what you expected, investigate. Find out why.
Have someone else check your work, ideally someone who understands data but is not involved in the project.
- Be confident. Don’t let fear make you second-guess your every move. If you’re careful and diligent, data can improve your story.
If you have rules that you feel should be added to this list, or if you'd like to campaign for the removal of one of these items, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your arguments.
Vote now for the 2014 NICAR T-shirt
The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting received more than 20 submissions for its annual T-shirt contest, and voting is now open!
Voting will stay open for one week, ending Thursday, Nov. 14 at midnight. The proposal with the most votes will be sold as a T-shirt at the upcoming CAR Conference, Feb. 27 to March 2, 2014 at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. Runners-up will be sold as laptop stickers.
The designer of the winning T-shirt also gets a free shirt and $50 in the IRE Store.
Visit the contest page to view the designs and vote.
Longtime member pledges debut book royalties to IRE endowment
Nancy Stancill, an IRE member for 25 years and a former board member, has pledged royalties from her debut suspense novel, Saving Texas, to the IRE endowment.
Stancill, of Charlotte, N.C., has pledged the royalties from the first thousand books she sells to support the Godfrey Wells Stancill Small Newspaper Fellowship. The fellowship, established in 2006 in memory of her father, so far has paid expenses for six journalists from small dailies to get training at IRE's national conference. Stancill's father was a longtime editor and publisher in Virginia.
Nancy Stancill's novel, published by Black Rose Writing of Texas in October, is based in part on her experiences as an investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle. It centers on Annie Price, a reporter who profiles a modern-day secessionist candidate for governor.
"I was looking for a way to contribute more to my dad's fellowship and I thought about the book I was writing," Stancill said. "It is a paean to investigative reporting, so contributing to IRE makes perfect sense.
"So many journalists write books that I thought this kind of contribution might inspire others in our efforts to increase the IRE endowment," Stancill said. "I want to do my part to assure that IRE will last forever."
In Saving Texas, Price faces more than she bargains for, grappling with two murders, political intrigue and a love triangle. She's under pressure to get the truth before her enemies get her or her struggling newspaper takes her off the story.
Saving Texas is available in print and electronic versions here.
Data lead way to suspect tutoring companies
By Michael LaForgia, Tampa Bay Times
A little creative thinking and some simple tricks using Microsoft Access and Excel allowed us to report how criminals, cheaters and insiders were benefitting from subsidized tutoring in Florida.
Federal law requires the state to pay contractors to tutor poor kids in failing schools, and, because of the loose way in which the program was run, I expected to find abuses.
While trying to test this theory I did some seriously jury-rigged data work, but it got the job done.
First, I visited an online state directory of so-called supplemental educational services providers and exported a list of more than 450 vendors into Excel. Then I used Florida's excellent corporate filings website to make a database of the companies' officers and directors. Read the rest at ire.org ...
Watch: Google Hangout with journalist and author Charles Lewis
Tune in to IRE's Google Hangout with Charles Lewis, an accomplished investigative reporter, producer and bestselling author who founded the non-profit investigative journalism group the Center for Public Integrity. Lewis answered questions about campaign finance investigations, the future of nonprofit journalism and authoring investigative books.
BEHIND THE STORY
Maine pharmacists get licenses despite history of drug abuse
By Fedor Zahrkin
Would you feel safe if your pharmacist had lost his license because of drug abuse or theft, yet had regained it and was dispensing your prescriptions? What about if he had lost his license twice?
Naomi Schalit and John Christie of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting found that since 2003, thirteen pharmacists with histories of drug abuse in Maine were allowed to practice despite having previously lost their licenses. The discovery was part of a broad examination of Maine’s Board of Pharmacy discipline records that resulted in a two-part series published in September. The project was led by Schalit.
Among Schalit's especially colorful findings: a pharmacist who prescribed Vicodin for his bulldog; a man who, having lost his license twice, was found snorting cocaine mixed with other narcotics in the medical storage room; a pharmacist who let his mother – not a licensed pharmacist – take over the pharmacy for him and dispense prescriptions.
How did Schalit stumble on such gold? Read the rest at ire.org ...
Keep your mailing address up to date
It's easy to keep your IRE membership information updated. Our system allows you to change your beat or area of interest, affiliation, phone number, email, street address and more. Students who are going home for break can update their profiles to reflect their home addresses, and change them again when they get back.Don't miss your IRE Journals: ways to change your profile information:
Three ways to keep your profile updated
1. Log in at http://ire.org, click Profile (next to your name at top right of page), then click My Profile on the left side of the page and choose Edit Profile at top of page.
2. Email the information to email@example.com
3. Call John Green at 573-882-2772
Upcoming Better Watchdog Workshops
Toronto, Ontario. Nov. 9 — 10, 2013
Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting Training Sunday Nov. 10, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
A sampling of the jobs posted at ire.org:
- Investigative Journalist Fellowship, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
- Consumer Researcher, NBC Universal, Fort Worth, TX
- Consumer Hotline Producer, NBC Universal, Fort Worth, TX
- News Researcher, The Wall Street Journal, New York
- Online Editor, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Washington, D.C.
- News Video Editor, KPRC-TV, Houston
- Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
- Investigative Reporter, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
- Main Evening Anchor, KXAN, Austin, TX
- Investigative Reporter, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD