IRE Radio

IRE Radio Podcast | Scandals at the VA

Welcome to another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. We’re excited to announce that this podcast is now available on iTunes. Subscribe to have the latest episode automatically download to your phone, computer or tablet.

This week we’re talking about investigating veterans issues, past and present. Here’s the lineup:

  • Dennis Wagner of the Arizona Republic discusses how he helped break open the most recent scandal involving falsified wait-time data at the Phoenix VA hospital.
  • Aaron Glantz of The Center for Investigative Reporting talks about benefit backlogs at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
  • Michael Phillips of the Wall Street ...
Read more ...

IRE Radio Podcast | Cracking the Crime Stats

Welcome to another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. On this week’s episode we’re talking about crime – everything from fact-checking police stats to building databases to track gun violence.

Here’s the lineup:

  • Michael Berens of The Seattle Times gets things started with a story about an odd beam of light, some dead rabbits and a police chopper.
  • Debra Juarez, news director at NBC 5 Chicago, talks about the ethics of naming suspects involved in a prostitution sting.
  • Steve Thompson of the Dallas Morning News and Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times explain how to spot red ...
Read more ...

IRE Radio Podcast | True Believers

Welcome to the third episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. We’re taking a cue from reporter Corey Johnson and calling this episode “True Believers.” This week we’ll be talking about how to find crucial sources and, more importantly, how to get them to talk.

Here’s the lineup:

  • Corey Johnson of The Center for Investigative Reporting talks about how he found "true believers" as he reported on unsafe schools for California Watch.
  • Michael Isikoff explains how he got whistleblower Thomas Tamm to talk for his 2008 Newsweek story.
  • Shawn Boburg of The Record in northern New Jersey discusses ...
Read more ...

IRE Radio Podcast | FOIA Frustrations

We're back with another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. This week we're focusing on FOIA. Here's the lineup:

  • Kirsten B. Mitchell, a former journalist and current facilitator with The Office of Government Information Services, talks about common FOIA problems and how to fix them.
  • Deb Nelson, Michael Ravnitzky, Charles Ornstein, and Jennifer LaFleur share tips on beating FOIA fees, arguing for data, and more.

You can find and download previous podcast episodes on our Soundcloud page.



Looking for links to the stories, resources and events we discussed on this week's podcast? We've ...

Read more ...

A conversation with the federal FOIA Ombudsman’s office

Ever wonder what kinds of questions federal agencies ask FOIA liaisons? We did. So we went right to the source. Kirsten Mitchell is a facilitator in The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a neutral office within the National Archives that anyone — requester or federal agency — can come to for help with the FOIA process.

Mitchell, a former journalist, will be available during the IRE Conference this month to answer questions about the FOIA process and help reporters with their requests. You can learn more and sign up here.

IRE student George Varney talked with Mitchell this week to learn ...

Read more ...

Download the inaugural IRE Radio Podcast

Welcome to the inaugural episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. On these regular audio features you'll find a brief recap of IRE news and upcoming events, interviews with journalists and IRE staff, and audio tips from the best in the biz. We'll try to keep each episode around 15 minutes.

For now the podcast is hosted on our Soundcloud page and, unlike our IRE Radio clips, it's available for download.

Here's what we have in this week's episode:

  • Get caught up on IRE news, including information on the upcoming conference in San Francisco.
  • Database Library ...
Read more ...

Lessons from the storm: What we can learn from the Moore, Okla. tornado

One year ago an EF5 tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma and left 25 people dead. A month after the storm, Oklahoman reporter Paul Monies and CBS News Southern Bureau Chief Scott Keenan talked about their experiences covering the twister during a session at the 2013 IRE Conference.

Keenan encouraged journalists to question the injury and fatality numbers officials present. They're often wrong, he said. Keenan also offered tips for navigating the muddied, post-disaster chain of command and filing stories from the field.

To get real-time weather information, the Oklahoman sends a weather reporter to a local National Weather Service ...

Read more ...

How to investigate subsidized tutoring

Florida's mandated tutoring program used taxpayer dollars to hire firms run by criminals, cheaters and profiteers. Last year Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael LaForgia used invoice records, complaint reports, audits and interviews to report on the industry, which goes virtually unchecked by state regulators.

In this series of clips LaForgia walks through how to investigate subsidized tutoring. To get started, LaForgia introduces Supplemental Educational Services (SES) and explains how it affects your community.



Step 1: Identify the contractors and find out who's getting paid.
(To view the presentation that goes with this audio, click here.)


Step 2: Run ...

Read more ...

How to identify – and expose – inflated student enrollment statistics

Will Evans of The Center for Investigative Reporting explains how he started investigating an Oakland, Calif. church school that appears to have vastly inflated its enrollment numbers to collect extra taxpayer funding.

"The place was in total disrepair, but the pastor drove an Escalade," Evans said.

In this first clip, Evans explains how he found the story (at a subway station, of all places) and began checking out the school.



The next step was to follow the money. Evans explains how Title I and Title II funds flowed into the private school with little oversight. 



The religious school appeared to ...

Read more ...

Investigating money in politics on foot and online

By George Varney

Fredreka Schouten presented a campaign finance panel at the 2014 CAR Conference in Baltimore with fellow USA TODAY reporter Chris Schnaars and AP reporter Jack Gillum. The panel focused on different techniques for investigating political conventions and using online databases.

Schouten gets to conventions two days early, before security shows up, to scope out who is sitting where and what organizations have skyboxes.


Schouten also explained what the creation, or dissolution, of a super PAC can mean. 


Politicians can get in major legal trouble for incorrect FEC filings. So while the data is vast, the stakes are ...

Read more ...