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How to log in and join the #NICAR21 conference

Welcome to the virtual #NICAR21 conference! If you’ve already registered, here’s what you need to know to access the conference. 

(If you still need to register, you can do that online and then follow these instructions. You will receive an email to access the conference platform within one business day of registration. During conference week, we will work to give access as soon as possible after registration.)

Getting started & accessing the virtual conference platform

The NICAR21 virtual conference is online at nicar21.org. We highly recommend you bookmark this URL for easy access, especially since you can access it for a full year!

If you’ve already registered, you should have received an email link with access to Pathable, our virtual conference platform. Using the link from that email, you’ll be asked to set a password. You will need this email and password to access Pathable during and after the conference.

Can’t find the email? Search your inbox and Spam folder for “Pathable.” If you still can’t find it, email logistics@ire.org.

What are the technical requirements?

What time zone is the agenda?

The Pathable agenda will automatically reflect your time zone.

How do I build my own schedule?

To add live sessions to your agenda, start on the main Agenda page (go to Schedule > Agenda). When you find a session you want to add to your schedule, click on the green plus sign located in the upper right-hand corner of each session.

Anything you add will show up on your My Agenda page (go to Schedule > My Agenda). You can also export your schedule to your personal calendar by using the Export Calendar feature located in My Agenda.

How do hands-on classes work?

The conference features seven virtual data labs where you can learn spreadsheets, SQL, data wrangling, data viz, Python, R and web scraping -- with no sign-ups or extra fee required. The classes are all on demand and will be available for a year after the conference so you can work at your own pace and  come back for refreshers. 

Access the labs under Schedule > Virtual hands-on labs.

How can I get live help with hands-on skill lessons?

To compliment the virtual labs, we are offering live office hours where you can meet with an experience data journalist to help with a particular skill or project. Sign up here to be matched with an expert. 

Note: You must sign up by Monday, Feb. 22 for one-on-one office hours. If you don’t sign up, you can come to open office hours found on the Agenda.

Will all the sessions be recorded?

Most of the live sessions are being recorded and will be available in Pathable for one year after the conference. Every session description notes whether the session will be recorded. 

As a general rule: panels and conversations will be recorded; networking and happy hour sessions will not.

Recorded sessions will be available for viewing a few hours after the session concludes. In addition, any tipsheets from the session will be available in the Files tab for each session. 

How does Zoom work inside Pathable?

Most panels (webinar-style meetings) will have the Zoom room embedded inside the Pathable page. This allows you to view the session even if your device or organization limits Zoom access. When you’re in the Pathable room, you’ll see the video on the left and the chat box on the right. 

When you “Join a live meeting,” you may experience a brief delay and see a gray/black box as the embedded video loads.

If the embedded format shown above isn’t working, you also have the option to “use the Zoom app instead.” This will open a new Zoom window. (Find it directly under the video window in Pathable.)

Will I be on a camera? Will I be muted?

It depends! There are two types of Zoom rooms, each noted at the bottom of that session’s description.

Finally, a note: If your organization or device limits Zoom access, you may not be able to unmute or go on video. But you should still be able to view the content and use the chat in Pathable.

Can I go in and out of sessions?

Yes, you can enter and leave any live session (as long as it is not at capacity).

How do I get technical support or help?

If you are having technical difficulties, make sure you are using Google Chrome. This will take care of some common problems, like a slow-loading browser or audio issues. But if you still need help, reach out one of the following ways:

NICAR21 is moving online in March, and IRE needs your help to build a strong and successful virtual data journalism conference.

We are gathering ideas from our community via this form through Dec. 6. We want to know what session topics you’d like to see, what format is most helpful to you and how we can help you network and build connections with other members online. With an online conference, we have lots of flexibility to try different things, explore emerging technologies and connect with each other on new levels.

IRE’s annual data journalism conference was originally scheduled for March 4-7, 2021, in Baltimore, Maryland. We are moving the event online because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Sign up for NICAR21 email updates here.

“NICAR is such a unique conference with its hands-on training, innovative sessions and collaborative spirit,” IRE Deputy Executive Director Denise Malan said. “While we wish we could see everyone in person, we are excited to create something new and different for NICAR this year, and make the event more accessible to journalists, educators and students around the globe.”

Here’s what we’re planning so far and what kind of input we’re seeking:

As always, we rely on this amazing, diverse community to help us highlight the very best in data journalism, and we cannot wait to see what you come up with! Feel free to reach out at any time to conference@ire.org

In early March, we put together a panel at the 2020 NICAR Conference on how to cover the response to COVID-19. Although much has changed in the past month, there were some key takeaways from the panel that will ring true throughout the pandemic. 

Panelists Caroline Chen from ProPublica, Anna Barry-Jester from Kaiser Health News and Sarah Babcock from the New Orleans Health Department, offered four tips for how to cover the coronavirus outbreak.

1. Look at lab capacity when reporting on testing

From the beginning of this outbreak, the United States decided against using the World Health Organization’s test guidelines. Caroline Chen noticed the slow rollout of testing, and eventually realized that American tests weren’t working properly. 

“I had noted that it was taking New York City still a couple days to get answers to their tests. At that point, they were still coming back negative,” Chen said.

The tests were later found to be faulty. 

“That [decision to go with our own protocol] lost us a bunch of time,” she said. 

The lack of testing allowed the virus to spread in the United States undetected, exposing many people to the coronavirus without the knowledge of health departments. If you want to look into testing in your own area, Chen suggested looking at capacity. If a lab only has one technician and that person can only do X number of tests a day, how many tests can they realistically run?

2. Pull inspection reports to see if hospitals were prepared for the outbreak

The United States, by many metrics, was underprepared for the coronavirus outbreak. The Trump administration closed the White House pandemic office well before the COVID-19 outbreak began, stunting the federal government’s ability to respond. But Sarah Babcock of the New Orleans Health Department said local and regional health agencies are ready for this kind of outbreak.

“We have infectious disease outbreaks every single day around the country. And so our response to COVID-19 is the same as a child with measles, just at a larger scale,” Babcock said. 

The local health department is notified if an odd number of people start showing up in the hospital system, and it knows which symptoms are cropping up often in the community, Babcock said.

“Almost every [health department] is already going to have a flu pandemic or infectious disease outbreak plan on the shelf ready to go,” she said. 

Hospitals were preparing for the crisis to hit the U.S., and Chen said you can pull past inspection reports to see whether they were adequately prepared. 

“There is a specific citation that can be given by [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] inspectors or federal government inspectors, that the tag is infection control specifically,” she said. 

You can ask experts to look at those tags and tell you whether the hospital is following proper protocols to protect health care workers and whether they’ve had recent training on personal protective equipment.

Reporters should keep an eye on local nursing homes for signs of the outbreak, Anna Barry-Jester said. One Washington nursing home was linked to 34 coronavirus deaths

Kaiser Health News has a tool available to look at infection records in nursing homes across the U.S. Using the tool, you can quickly find the number of times homes in your city or state have been cited for infection control violations since 2017.

3. Be careful with statistics

Because testing is so limited, it’s hard to know what the actual fatality rates are for COVID-19. 

“Not every person that has coronavirus is ever going to get tested,” Babcock said. “And there's never going to be a time where anyone who wants a coronavirus test can get a coronavirus test.” 

The expected fatality rate has fluctuated significantly across time and location. In South Korea, which has expansive testing and a relatively mild rate of infection, death rates have remained much lower: just 0.6 percent. Italy, meanwhile, has limited testing and an elderly population, so its death rate is nearly 8 percent.

Chen also cautions against predictive statistics for infections. While epidemiologists are creating great models for how many infections there might be in a given city in the next few months, writing headlines with those numbers could cause a panic. 

“People are just going to take that and run off in a panic,” Chen said. “So I just try not to do that. I think that's fear mongering.”

4. Health department officials can be the most reliable human sources

If you’re trying to find data about coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  and the World Health Organization are obvious go-tos. But Chen also recommends the Association of Public Health Laboratories. 

“They are very media friendly, and they're sort of aggregating information,” she said. 

You can also look into public health associations, both regionally and nationally, Barry-Jester said. The American Public Health Association is one option, and it has regional offices across the country. 

Johns Hopkins University has also put together a Coronavirus Resource Center that has updated information and stats. 

When it comes to human sources, Babcock cautioned against using your local doctor as a health expert. 

“They don't always have information that came out early that morning with the latest statistics or don't know the background that hasn't been released publicly yet,” she said. “The people who are going to know your most accurate and timely information are your health department officials.”

Babcock suggested interviewing public health officials, but said they’re often busy because of the outbreak. Instead of asking for individual interviews, she urged reporters to go to press conferences whenever they happen. 

“I would say it is 1,000 times easier to get a written statement or a phone call than it is an in-person interview,” Babcock said.

You can find the tipsheet from the NICAR20 session here

The 2020 NICAR Conference begins on Thursday. Below you'll find a few bits of information to help you prepare.

For the latest information about panels, speakers and special events at the conference, please visit our conference website at ire.org/nicar20

 

Hotel information

The conference is taking place at the New Orleans Marriott, 555 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130.

 

Registration

Registration opens Wednesday at 3 p.m. and will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Preservation Foyer located on the 2nd floor. Be sure to bring photo identification when picking up your name badge. 

 

Coronavirus update

IRE continues to monitor information from local and national public health authorities regarding COVID-19. During NICAR20, IRE will provide hand sanitizer throughout the conference meeting space. In addition, we will have disinfectant wipes for our hands-on computer labs. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a COVID-19 site with regular updates. If you need to cancel your registration, please see our policy on the NICAR20 registration page.

 

Weather

Weather looks to be in the 60s during the week. See the 10-day forecast 

 

Conference WiFi

Wireless internet is provided to all NICAR conference attendees. 

Network/SSID: IRE

Password: NICAR2020 (case sensitive)

 

Have a question or need help in a session?

Room monitors will be stationed in the hallways during sessions and will be happy to answer your questions.

 

Hands-on classes

We will have nine computer labs again this year. Seating is limited. If there's a hands-on class you really want to take, plan on getting there early.

 

Tipsheets & Links

If you’re a speaker, please send any materials you’ve developed to tipsheets@ire.org. We’ll be posting these resources on our website as they are received.

 

NICAR Conference schedule & mobile app

There are a few ways to track the full schedule of panels, hands-on sessions and special events with accurate, up-to-the-minute details: 

 

Special events & partner events

Be sure to check out the list of special events taking place this week. Events include a welcome reception Thursday, the Philip Meyer Awards presentation and reception Friday and a closing reception at the New Orleans Audubon Aquarium of the Americas on Saturday. Also, be sure to check out the partner events taking place during the conference.

 

IRE Principles (Code of Conduct)

Investigative Reporters & Editors is committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of race, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, appearance or religion.

IRE supports vigorous debate and welcomes disagreement, while maintaining a civil and respectful community. Discriminatory or harassing behavior is not permitted.

IRE may take any action it deems appropriate to deal with those who violate our principles, including exclusion from our events, forums, listservs and the organization itself.

This code of conduct covers all participants in IRE events and is in effect the entire time from the beginning until the end of our conferences.

If you feel threatened or in immediate jeopardy during an IRE event, you should call building security by calling 0 from a house phone, or local police by dialing 911.

During the scheduled program, concerns can be brought to the attention of IRE staff or board members in person. Staff members will have red ribbons on their name badges, and board members will have blue ribbons. To report a possible violation, email conduct@ire.org.

We wanted to share a brief message regarding the emerging public health concerns posed by the COVID-19 virus. We are closely monitoring updates from local and national public health authorities regarding the situation in communities where cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed.

At present, there is no information to suggest that there is an imminent risk to our annual data journalism conference next week. Fortunately, there are a limited number of confirmed cases in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working with state and local governments to implement aggressive measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The CDC has a COVID-19 page online with full details. The Share Facts, Not Fear page is especially helpful.

During NICAR20, IRE will provide hand sanitizer throughout the conference meeting space. In addition, we will have disinfectant wipes for our hands-on computer labs.

In addition, there are several easy ways that we all can help minimize the risk of exposure. These are the same basic steps we should be taking daily to help prevent the spread of illnesses such as the flu and the common cold:

With continued aggressive good hygiene, we can all do our part to help keep everyone healthy.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation develops and new information becomes available.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact IRE by emailing logistics@ire.org.

The 2020 NICAR Conference app is now available through Guidebook!

We encourage you to download our mobile guide to enhance your experience in New Orleans. You’ll be able to plan your day with a personalized schedule, browse maps and connect with other attendees.

The app is free and compatible with iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Android devices.

To get the guide, choose one of the methods below:

 

The votes are in and the 2020 NICAR T-shirt has been selected!

Jan Diehm won our annual contest. You’ll be able to buy her design at the 2020 NICAR Conference in New Orleans. Any extra shirts will be available for purchase online in the IRE Store.

Thanks to everyone who entered designs and voted.

Help us pick a T-shirt to sell at the 2020 NICAR Conference in New Orleans!

Voting will stay open for about one week, ending Sunday, Jan. 26 at midnight (PST).

The designer of the winning T-shirt gets a free shirt and $50 in the IRE Store.

Visit the contest page to view the designs and vote.

Earn bragging rights and help raise money for future training events by participating in our annual NICAR Conference T-shirt contest.

All ideas celebrating data and data journalism are welcome, from a simple, classic design with #NICAR20 on it to bad SQL puns (SELECT * FROM tshirts WHERE tshirts.thisone = “Awesome”).

There are only a few guidelines:

We will accept entries up through Sunday, Jan. 19. Send official entries as JPG or PNG files to shirts@ire.org. Only submissions sent to that email will be entered in the contest.

Designs will be posted to the contest page as they are received. Starting Monday, Jan. 20, you’ll be able to vote for your favorite designs.

The designer of the winning T-shirt gets a free shirt and $50 in the IRE Store.

We look forward to your ideas and another great NICAR Conference, March 5-8 in New Orleans.

We’ve posted a list of more than 150 expected panels, demos, commons and hands-on classes we’re planning for the 2020 NICAR Conference in New Orleans!

This list is designed to help you make decisions about the conference (show it to your boss!), but it doesn’t include everything we’ll be offering.

A few highlights:

Never miss #NICAR20 news!

Sign up to get detailed updates on the 2020 NICAR Conference in New Orleans. We’ll let you know any time we make a major announcement, update you on the planning process and remind you of key dates/deadlines surrounding the conference.

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