Nail the interview: How to get sensitive or hard-to-reach sources to talk

  • Event: 2019 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: JoNel Aleccia of Kaiser Health News; Brett Murphy of USA TODAY Network; Kiran Chawla of WAFB-Baton Rouge
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 14 at 9:00am
  • Location: Texas D
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

The best interviews are often the hardest to score – and the most difficult to conduct, even if the source agrees. How do you successfully cold-call the family of a dead person? What’s the best way to ask traumatized or marginalized people to share their experiences with you? When does door-knocking actually work? How do you convince that tough source to talk when you have one day a week to focus on investigations?

This session with experienced reporters from print, digital and broadcast outlets will focus on finding, securing and conducting interviews with sensitive or hard-to-reach sources.

Speaker Bios

  • JoNel Aleccia is a reporter on Kaiser Health News's enterprise and investigative team, focusing on aging and dying. She previously covered public health and health policy issues at, and The Seattle Times and before that worked as a reporter, editor and columnist at daily newspapers in the Northwest. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. @JoNel_Aleccia  



  • Kiran Chawla is WAFB’s Lead Investigative Reporter. She’s won numerous awards for her investigations including Edward R. Murrows, Emmys, Associated Press and Louisiana Association of Broadcasters (LAB) and named reporter of the year by AP and LAB. Kiran has worked in news for 17 years in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson, MS.

  • Brett Murphy is a reporter on USA TODAY’s investigations desk. His most recent series on worker exploitation and lease-to-own contracts in the port trucking industry was Pulitzer finalist for national reporting. Brett previously covered courts, hurricanes and mass-shootings for the Naples Daily News and worked at Investigative Reporters and Editors as a Google NewsLab fellow. He also co-founded Local Matters, a weekly newsletter curating the best investigative reporting around the country. His email is

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