2019 Chicago Watchdog Workshop

Sponsored by: Columbia College Chicago - Communication Department

IRE will offer several of its core sessions, designed to improve your ability to find information on the Web quickly, and point you to key documents and data that will help you add depth to your daily work and produce quick-hit enterprise stories. In addition, this workshop will give you tips on bulletproofing stories, digging deeper on the Web with social media, search engines and much more.

These sessions are designed for reporters, editors, and producers from small, midsize and large publications, TV, radio stations, Web-only news sites and news blogs. Freelancers, students and journalism educators are also encouraged to attend.

Expected speakers include Michael Berens, Thomson Reuters; Meghan Dwyer, WGN-Chicago; Denise Malan, IRE/NICAR; Dan Mihalopoulos, WBEZ Public Radio; Mark Rochester, Detroit Free Press; Raquel Rutledge, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune; Matt Topic, Loevy & Loevy and Derek Willis, ProPublica.

Join IRE's experienced trainers and a group of veteran reporters for our Watchdog Workshop on Saturday, October 26, 2019.

Get the tools and the tricks of the trade that you need to be a better, faster, watchdog journalist.

This program is made possible thanks to support from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Optional Hands-on Spreadsheet Training

Sunday, October 27, 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Google Sheets, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, election data and more. Also, learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

**Attendees will need to bring their own laptop and charger to this training.

Workshop Location

Saturday and Sunday's workshop will take place at Columbia College Chicago in the 1st Floor Conaway Center located at 1104 S. Wabash Avenue. A link to the campus map is here.

Parking

Public transportation is recommended.  Various self-parking lots are available nearby for a fee.

Workshop Fees (includes a one-year IRE membership, if you are a current IRE member, your membership will be extended by one year. Attendees must meet IRE membership terms)

$55 Professional

$25 Student

$30 Optional hands-on spreadsheet training

Registration

Registration can be done by clicking on "click here to begin" which can be found below. Current or expired members will log into their profile. If you do not have a profile, you will be able to create one and then register for the event. Instructions will be found when clicking "click here to begin" which can be found below.

Cancellations must be sent via email to Susie Likovic, susie@ire.org. There is a $25 processing fee for professionals ($10 for students) for cancellations until the day before the event. Refunds will not be given for cancellations on the day of, or after the event.

Workshop evaluations

Attendees can access the workshop evaluation online. We appreciate feedback from attendees as this allows us to improve the program and provide feedback to our funders.

Time and place

Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019 - Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019

Columbia College Chicago
1104 South Wabash
Chicago, Illinois 60605


Registration information

Registration for this event is open! Click here to begin.

Hurry! Registration closes on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 12:00pm.


Schedule details

  • Panel

    Welcome/overview

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Rundown of what you'll learn today and key logistics about the meeting space.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    9:00 am - 9:15 pm

  • Panel

    Developing an investigative mindset

    Speakers: Mark Rochester of Detroit Free Press; Meghan Dwyer of WGN-Chicago

    Solid watchdog journalism isn't just for the I-team. Learn how investigative methods and tools can transform your reporting, whether they're quick turns or long-term enterprise pieces.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    9:15 am - 10:15 am

  • Panel

    Digging into public records

    Speakers: Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy; Jennifer Smith Richards of Chicago Tribune

    Practical advice and strategies for crafting public records requests, tracking them and holding officials’ feet to the fire. Includes strategies for dealing with excuses and obstacles from public officials who stand in your way of getting key documents and data.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    10:30 am - 12:00 pm

  • Outside Event

    See printed schedule for room information

    12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

  • Panel

    The investigative interview

    Speakers: Michael Berens of Thomson Reuters; Raquel Rutledge of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Watchdog stories pose special challenges, including how best to prep for interviews, approach sources, handle tough situations, navigate ethical trouble-spots and more. Learn how to master the interview to hold your sources accountable. Seasoned watchdog journalists also will provide tips on preventing your sources from hijacking and controlling the interview.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

  • Panel

    Campaign 2020: Data and docs

    Speaker: Derek Willis of ProPublica

    Elections provide a wealth of watchdog story ideas using key data and documents. Find out how to mine data and documents to track money and influence in politics at the federal, state and local levels.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

  • Panel

    How to scrub any candidate or public official

    Speaker: Dan Mihalopoulos of WBEZ Public Radio

    Whether you are vetting a president, Supreme Court justice, or mayor, we'll give you all the tools you need to unearth the secrets of public officials and candidates. Using public records and master source-building, we'll explain how to expose conflicts of interests, untangle financial connections, and reveal problematic relationships.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

  • Panel

    Wrap-up & what IRE can do for you

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Now that you’re an IRE member, learn how best to tap into tip sheets, data services, fellowships and other resources to ramp up your daily coverage.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    5:00 pm - 5:15 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional hands-on spreadsheet training (Chicago)

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Google Sheets, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, election data and more. Also, learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

    **Attendees will need to bring their own laptop and charger to this training.

    NOTE: Registration is required for this session. Click here to sign up.

    1st Floor Conaway Center

    9:30 am - 1:00 pm