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Follow the money: New webinar series explores how to cover the business of health care

AHCJ and IRE present Follow the Money: The Business of Health Care, a free webinar series sponsored by NIHCM Foundation.

The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) and Investigative Reporters and Editors are collaborating on a webinar series that combines the organizations’ expertise in health reporting and data and investigative journalism.

"Follow the Money: The Business of Health Care" is an in-depth, hands-on webinar series that will equip journalists with the tools they need to tell the story of the big business of health care. The series is free for all journalists, thanks to the generous support of the NIHCM Foundation.

"For the first time in the history of our two organizations, IRE and AHJC are working together to help journalists across the country better cover this critical issue," said IRE Executive Director Diana Fuentes. "Collaboration is essential in today’s journalism world. Together, IRE and AHCJ will provide journalists with tools they need to reach their local communities."

In March, the first of four webinars will explore where to find financial data for hospitals and other health care businesses. The following webinars will explore how to investigate health care pricing and medical debt, and the nuances of private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

"We're thrilled to partner with IRE on this comprehensive webinar series that will benefit journalists looking to dig into the money side of health care," said AHCJ Executive Director Kelsey Ryan. "By bringing together our joint expertise, we’re certain journalists will take away valuable tips and story ideas they can use right away."

Mark your calendars for the first webinar of the series, "Using HospitalFinances.org and other tools to tell money stories," 1-2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 27. The session will be led by longtime AHCJ member Karl Stark, Director of Content/Editor in Residence at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Register here!

Looking ahead, the free webinar series continues throughout the coming months, with more details and registration coming soon:


Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources. IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tipsheets and other materials through its Resource Center and hosts conferences and specialized training across the country.

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With about 1,500 members across the U.S. and around the globe, its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and its sister organization, the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism provide training, resources and support for journalists, including health journalism fellowships, webinars, networking and conferences.

The IRE Board of Directors will consider changes to the organization’s Code of Bylaws relating to the executive committee election procedures at its next meeting at 10 a.m. ET on February 23, 2024, which will be held virtually.

Section 6.03. Annual Meeting. The annual meeting of the Board of Directors for the election of officers, and for the transaction of such other business as may properly come before the meeting, shall be held either conjointly with, or immediately after adjournment of, the annual meeting of the Members of the Corporation, when the latter is held as specified in Section 5.04 of the Bylaws. No notice shall be necessary for the holding of the annual meeting of the Board of Directors. If the annual meeting is not held as above provided, the election of officers may be held at any subsequent meeting of the Board as adjourned or specially called. (Amendment adopted 2/13/81.)

Section 7.01. Number, Qualification, and Term. Beginning with the officers elected at the June 2006 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Corporation, the executive committee of the Board of directors shall consist of five Directors, including the president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary. The remaining member of the Executive Committee shall be a director elected by a majority vote of the Board. The president shall be chairman of the Executive Committee. The members of the Executive Committee shall hold office until the next annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Corporation successors are elected. The immediate past president – to the extent possible – shall serve in an advisory role to the board. (Amendment adopted 2/13/81; a second amendment adopted 9/9/04.)

As prescribed in the bylaws, IRE members will have at least 30 days before the meeting to submit comments about the proposed change. Any comments or questions may be submitted via board@ire.org. Please submit your feedback by February 21.

January 17, 2024

Still Loading,” The Markup investigation, which exposed vast disparities in internet service quality from four major providers, earned the first place prize in the 2023 Philip Meyer Journalism Award.

The Meyer Award recognizes the best uses of social science research methods in journalism. It is named for Philip Meyer, the author of “Precision Journalism,” who pioneered the use of empirical methods to empower better journalism. Read more about Meyer and his legacy here.

Bloomberg News earned the second place award for “Power Plays,” a project that exposed how large U.K. power companies manipulated the country’s feckless energy system to reap profits. Third place goes to a collaboration between Lighthouse Reports, WIRED, Vers Beton and Open Rotterdam for “Inside the Suspicion Machine,” a series that traced the deployment of predictive AI in European welfare systems.  

The judges have also given two special citations in the 2023 Philip Meyer Journalism Award: 

The winners will be honored at the 2024 NICAR Conference, March 7-10 in Baltimore. The award is administered by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Missouri School of Journalism.

First place: “Still Loading,” The Markup
Leon Yin, Aaron Sankin, Joel Eastwood, Gabriel Hongsdusit, Paroma Soni, Jeremy Singer-Vine, Evelyn Larrubia, Sisi Wei

Judges’ comments: ​​For The Markup’s “Still Loading,” reporters gathered and analyzed 800,000 internet service offers from telecom giants in dozens of cities, finding they routinely offered the worst deals to households in lower-income, less white and historically redlined neighborhoods. The reporters adapted methods from an academic study to identify internet offers by address and then used Census data and historical maps to tell a powerful story about a critical social injustice. The judges applaud the team for their resourcefulness, robust validation process and, along with their partner Big Local News, commitment to sharing their bespoke mapping tool with the public. 

Second place: “Power Plays,” Bloomberg News
Gavin Finch, Todd Gillespie, Jason Grotto, Sam Dodge, Alex Campbell

Judges’ comments: For “Power Plays,” Bloomberg News analyzed millions of records obtained through a national data portal and additional records on renewable energy subsidies. The team’s reporting exposed methods that large U.K. power companies used to manipulate the country’s energy system for profit, saddling customers with extra costs. This took place during an energy crisis that caused havoc, including forcing elderly people and low-income families into warming shelters. The judges commend the stories for shining an important spotlight on companies that usually avoid scrutiny despite their impact on people’s everyday lives.

Third place: “Inside the Suspicion Machine,” Lighthouse Reports, WIRED, Vers Beton, Open Rotterdam
Gabriel Geiger, Eva Constantaras, Justin-Casimir Braun, Evaline Schot, Dhruv Mehrotra, Saskia Klaassen, Romy van Dijk, Matthew Burgess, Morgan Meaker, Kyle Thomas, Daniel Howden, Andrew Couts, James Temperton, Eeva Liukku, David Davidson, Danielle Carrick, Htet Aung, Alyssa Walker, Raagul Nagendran, Hari Moorthy, Ishita Tiwari, Lily Boyce, Sascha Meijer, and Roelof van der Meer

Judges’ comments: In “Inside the Suspicion Machine,” Lighthouse Reports, WIRED, Vers Beton and Open Rotterdam gained rare access to the algorithms used to choose subjects for welfare fraud investigations. After nearly one and a half years of negotiation, the reporters obtained the underlying computer code used to flag Rotterdam’s residents, which could cut them off from services and even target them for raids. By studying and testing the risk scoring algorithm, they learned that it did only marginally better than random chance, and targeted people based on their native language, gender and even how they dressed. From there, the reporters followed two archetypes, as typified by more than 300 characteristics, to show audiences the arbitrary, and at times prejudiced, logic of the system. The judges remarked on how rarely news organizations gain access to these often proprietary lines of code, and how important they are to holding governments accountable for their actions.

Special citation: “Putin and Orbán's Media Masquerade: Projecting Unity and Tension in the EU,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Current Time Digital and Szabad Európa

Judges’ comments: "Putin and Orbán's Media Masquerade" is a timely investigation that used textual analysis, such as topic clusterization, to show how Russian and Hungarian propaganda have been interwoven since the war in Ukraine began, and how Hungary supported Russia's invasion. The visualizations were particularly helpful in displaying the analysis of data from 15,000 headlines from the propaganda machines of both countries. The project should inspire other journalists to investigate shared propaganda and disinformation between political parties and countries.

Special citation: “Unhoused and Undercounted,” The Center for Public Integrity in partnership with The Seattle Times, Street Sense Media and WAMU/DCist

Judges’ comments: “Unhoused and Undercounted” told the story of the roughly 300,000 children and youth in the United States who are entitled to rights reserved for homeless students, but are going unidentified by school districts that have the legal obligation to help them. This collective oversight results in the students, disproportionately Black and Latino, lacking the critical support they need to stay in school, graduate and obtain referrals for health care and housing: In short, basic civil rights. Due to its nationwide approach, this analysis broke new ground by measuring the gap between identified and actual homelessness within school districts across the United States. The judges noted the data was also made available to local newsrooms, which was key to the project’s success in telling a story that holds educators to account for failing to serve their most vulnerable students. 

The Meyer Award honors Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer is the author of “Precision Journalism,” the influential 1973 book that encouraged journalists to incorporate social science methods in the pursuit of better journalism. As a reporter, he also pioneered the use of survey research for Knight-Ridder newspapers while exploring the causes of race riots in the 1960s.

The judges for the 2023 Philip Meyer Journalism Award were:

The Philip Meyer Journalism Award follows the rules of the IRE Awards to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that included any significant role by a Meyer Award contest judge may not be entered in the contest. This often represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual — and sometimes an entire newsroom. The IRE membership appreciates this devotion to the values of the organization.

IRE works to foster excellence in investigative journalism, which is essential to a free society. Founded in 1975, IRE has more than 4,500 members worldwide. Headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism, IRE provides training, resources and a community of support to investigative journalists; promotes high professional standards; and protects the rights of investigative journalists. The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting was founded by the Missouri School of Journalism in 1989 and became a collaboration between the school and IRE in 1994.

Contact:

Signups are now open for the mentorship networking program at NICAR24 in Baltimore.

If you’ll be joining us for the conference, you can sign up by filling out this form. If you can’t make it to Baltimore this year but still want to find a mentor, please check out the IRE page at JournalismMentors.com, where you can set up a time to meet virtually with an IRE member mentor.

IRE will match mentors with mentees and arrange for them to meet at a breakfast during the conference. The NICAR24 mentorship breakfast will be held from 7:30 - 8:45 a.m. on Friday, March 8, at the conference hotel.

Space is limited in this popular program, and the deadline to apply is midnight CT on Monday, Feb. 5. If the slots are filled before then, your application will be added to a waitlist.

Please also note that you must register for the conference by Feb. 5 to participate.

Submissions are now open for Lightning Talks to be featured at #NICAR24 in Baltimore!

Lightning Talks, which take place on the Friday afternoon of the conference, are five-minute talks about a particular tool, skill or piece of advice learned from working on stories. The goal is to teach some practical tips in a fun and entertaining way.

The talks began in 2010 and quickly grew into one of the most popular sessions at IRE’s annual data journalism conference.

The pitch form is open until Feb. 5. After that, members will be able to vote for their favorite ideas, and the 10 talks with the most votes will earn slots at the conference in Baltimore. 

All conference attendees can pitch ideas, and we especially encourage women, journalists of color, those from historically marginalized communities, and folks from smaller organizations to submit talks. (If you’ve given a talk in recent years, we encourage you to take a year off to allow for new voices.)

Pitching and voting will be anonymous. In years past, a pitch would be displayed alongside the person who submitted it. In 2019, we saw that anonymity encouraged a more diverse group of people to submit pitches and bring more focus to the content of the talk in the voting process.

What makes a good Lightning Talks pitch? In the spirit of IRE’s conferences, try to focus on teaching your fellow journalists practical skills. Think of something you wish you had known when you started a project or a particular tool that helped you overcome a challenge.

The talks don’t have to be in-depth or super-advanced — remember you’ll only have five minutes, and yes, you will be timed!

If you have questions about Lightning Talks or the submission process, please email conference@ire.org.

Rick Gevers, a longtime IRE member and broadcast journalism industry veteran, has joined the Board of Directors.

Gevers, who ran for the Board in the last election and was the highest vote recipient who was not elected, will fill the remainder of the term of Simone Weichselbaum of NBC News, who recently stepped down for medical reasons.

According to the IRE bylaws, when there is a vacancy, the Board may fill it with the next highest vote recipient at the last previous election.

Gevers lives in Indianapolis. He began his board service on Nov. 1 and will serve until the next election, which will take place at the annual IRE Conference in June 2024.

Investigative Reporters and Editors is gearing up to start planning the 2024 NICAR Conference, held in Baltimore March 7-10. 

Use this form to share ideas, suggestions and other comments to help us plan the best possible conference. No suggestion is too big or too small. The form will be open through Oct. 15.

We’re excited to be back in Baltimore and see everyone! Please know that IRE takes the health and safety of all attendees, speakers, staff and others involved at our events seriously and follows the guidelines of the CDC. More information about health and safety guidelines will be posted closer to the event. 

Your input helps ensure that we consider a broad spectrum of speakers and topics. 

Here are a few ways you can use the ideas form:

Have several ideas? Great! Fill out the form as many times as you’d like. And help us spread the word by sharing this form with friends, colleagues, Slack channels, etc.

Keep in mind that IRE retains editorial control over the content of its conferences. If we use your idea, our team will be in touch to discuss details. Here are some other tips to help you make the best pitch and understand our process. 

While the form will close in mid-October, we know your great ideas aren't on a timeline. If creativity strikes, feel free to send us a note at conference@ire.org. We love hearing from you!

We're gearing up to start planning for AccessFest23, and we would love to hear your ideas!

AccessFest is the newly expanded version of our fall conference, the DBEI Symposium. IRE's third annual, virtual-by-design event will still center on themes of inclusion, equity and belonging in newsrooms and in news coverage but we're broadening the scope to include more sessions and topics. You'll also see panels and data classes that mirror sessions you’d typically see at the NICAR and IRE conferences. Our goal is to make IRE training more accessible for everyone!

If you have ideas about what we should include in the line-up this year, we want to hear from you. Your input helps ensure that we’re providing programming that meets your needs and the needs of your newsrooms.

Here are a few ways you can use the ideas form:

Have several ideas? Great! Fill out the form as many times as you’d like. And help us spread the word by sharing this form with friends, colleagues, Slack channels, etc.

Keep in mind that IRE retains editorial control over the content of its conferences. If we can use your idea, our team will be in touch to discuss details. Please direct questions to conference@ire.org.

Applications are now open to participate in the IRE Conference mentorship program, either as a mentor or as a mentee.

If you’ll be joining us in Orlando, you can sign up by filling out this form. IRE will match mentors with mentees and arrange for them to meet at a breakfast during the conference. The IRE23 mentorship — sponsored by Sinclair Broadcast Group —breakfast will be held from 7:45 - 8:45 a.m. on Friday, June 23, at the conference hotel.

Space is limited in this popular program, and the deadline to apply is midnight CT on Sunday, June 4. If the slots are filled before then, your application will be added to a waitlist.

Please also note that you must register for the conference by June 5 in order to participate.

Join Investigative Reporters and Editors for a regional training event in Las Vegas on April 22-23, 2023, the first IRE Jeff German Investigative Workshop.

The workshop honors Jeff German, a longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter who was killed outside his home in Las Vegas on Sept. 2. A county official who was the subject of German’s reporting earlier in the year is charged with murder in German’s death.

This two-day event will be held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  

Highlighting the extraordinary circumstances of picking up the pieces of an ongoing story when vital material has been seized by police and personal and source emotions are running high, one session will feature several of the late German’s colleagues, including veteran journalist Rhonda Prast and Las Vegas Review-Journal journalists Briana Erickson and Arthur Kane. Other sessions will focus on finding, cultivating and protecting sources; digital security best practices; watchdog story ideas; and public records and data to request for (almost) any beat. 

As an add-on to the workshop, Michael Scott Davidson of Newsweek will teach a class introducing Google Sheets on Sunday morning, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The special three-hour, hands-on class would benefit all reporters and editors seeking to learn how to make numbers tell the story. This class requires an additional fee along with workshop registration.

The workshop is co-sponsored by IRE, the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at UNLV and the Las Vegas Review-Journal and is supported by the Jeff German Fund for Investigative Journalism. The fund was established shortly after German’s death through contributions by the Review-Journal and Arnold Ventures along with the IRE Board of Directors and staff as well as more than 100 individual donors from across the country.

The fund helps continue the kind of game-changing investigative reporting that German produced during his more than 40 years as a journalist, primarily for regional newspapers. It provides training at IRE conferences and workshops for journalists working in local and regional news outlets. Donations to the fund can be made at ire.org/donate. Please write “Jeff German” in the message or tribute field.

For questions about registration or general event questions, please contact logistics@ire.org.

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