Expected Sessions

Here’s a look at some of the sessions we’re planning for #IRE20. Please note that this list is preliminary and subject to change.

Sessions will last from 12 – 4 p.m. ET each day from Sept. 21-25. IRE Awards celebrations and fun events will be from 4 – 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 23. 

Topics include:



  • Covering the stimulus package
  • Investigating hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the age of COVID
  • Reporting on racial and ethnic disparities
  • Overcoming pandemic excuses to get records requests
  • Investigating nursing homes and elderly care
  • Investigating hospitals
  • Story idea blitz: COVID-19

Investigating law enforcement

  • Challenging the police narrative
  • Using data & public records to police the police
  • Investigating law enforcement and white supremacy

Exposing systemic inequities

  • Investigating inequality
  • Words matter: Beware harmful language in your writing
  • Access and obstacles to higher education
  • Localizing affordable housing stories and data
  • Investigative reporting on the border and immigration crisis
  • Covering immigration away from the border
  • Involving marginalized communities in your reporting
  • Finding data on LGBTQ communities
  • Recognizing your implicit biases
  • Master class: Covering inequality on any beat
  • Covering epidemics caused by natural disasters

Election 2020

  • Master class: Election administration coverage
  • Tracking 2020 digital ads: Learn the secrets of new political ad databases
  • Tracking money to candidates up and down the ballot in 2020
  • How to unearth the secrets of candidates & public officials
  • Uncovering dark money in 2020 elections and beyond
  • Access to voting

Open Records/FOIA

  • 50 records to request right now
  • Navigating federal FOIA
  • Using state open records laws
  • Master Class: Becoming a public records sleuth
  • FOIA appeal strategies to actually get records
  • Overcoming pandemic excuses to get records requests

Research skills & tools

  • Web research
  • Advanced Google searching
  • Tools a reporter can’t live without
  • Backgrounding like a boss
  • Verifying hacked and leaked information
  • Social media deep dive
  • Using CrowdTangle to access public Facebook and Instagram data
  • Combating misinformation, disinformation and deepfakes


  • Counter and anti-surveillance for journalism safety
  • How to secure yourself online: Doxxing for good
  • Encryption tools demo
  • Security of your everyday newsroom tools

Story ideas

  • Court records are filled with untold stories: A PACER deep dive
  • Story idea blitz: COVID-19
  • Story idea blitz: Campus coverage
  • Story idea blitz: Local government accountability
  • Story idea blitz: Business and labor
  • Story idea blitz: International
  • Story idea blitz: Data
  • Story ideas blitz: Education

Career & management skills

  • Freelance lessons I’ve learned the hard way
  • Career paths in investigative journalism
  • Career advice
  • Master class: Management
  • Directing high-stakes investigative projects

Taking care

  • How to manage the stress and trauma of being a journalist
  • Do you qualify as an ally?
  • Self care & resilience

more details coming soon

  • At least 15 sessions focused on sourcing, interviewing, reporting and visualizing broadcast investigations
  • Networking sessions
  • Show & Tell

Master classes

  • Interviewing for print
  • Interviewing for broadcast
  • Narrative writing
  • Becoming a public records sleuth
  • Election administration coverage
  • Management
  • It’s just video… Until a storyteller creates an experience
  • Verification and disinformation
  • Launching an investigative podcast
  • Libel
  • Covering inequality on any beat


  • Spreadsheets
  • SQL and databases
  • R
  • Python
  • Tableau data viz

Sessions also will cover these topics:

  • Mining data to bolster health care investigations
  • Data.census.gov demo
  • Press freedom and investigative journalism
  • Holding companies accountable
  • Source-building: What reporters can learn from spies
  • Building trust with your audience
  • Reporting about arbitration and private justice
  • How to make climate change interesting and local
  • The art of confrontation
  • Perfecting your story idea and pitch
  • How to frame your investigation and tell a captivating narrative that gets noticed
  • Owning the local government beat
  • The first hours of breaking news
  • The art of long-form audio narrative
  • Corruption across borders
  • Infiltrating government agencies
  • Lessons learned from building trust in the gun rights community

Networking and conversations:

  • Media attorney Q&As
  • Meet the author sessions
  • Data office hours
  • Conversation: How to include watchdog training in your curriculum
  • Conversation: Pitching an investigative freelance story
  • Conversation: Bringing investigative to your student newsroom
  • Networking for students, educators, freelancers, journalists of color, international attendees, reporters on various beats and platforms, and many more