IRE20 Master Classes

Hone your writing, interviewing and editing skills with our IRE Conference Master Classes. Veteran reporters and editors will share their tips and strategies during these half-day workshops. Space is limited for these small-group classes.

How to register: You can register for these workshops when you complete your conference registration. Already registered for the conference and want to add a Master Class? You can do so through your member profile, for information on how to do this, email logistics@ire.org.

Optional master classes cancellation policy
Cancellations must be sent via email to logistics@ire.org. All cancellations must be in writing. There is a $15 processing fee for each class until September 1. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after September 1 due to the limited seating in these workshops/classes.

Waiting list policy
If a class fills up a waiting list will be created. Available seats will be filled from the waiting list until Friday, September 18.

If you have any questions about registration or waiting lists, please email logistics@ire.org.


Master class: Strategies for avoiding defamation claims

Monday, Sept. 21, 1:15 – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

This workshop will focus on understanding the law of libel and defamation, as well as best practices to limit your personal and organizational risk. We will review the fundamentals of the law and engage in exercises to help illustrate what media attorneys look for when they conduct pre-publication review of your content. Reporters, photographers, documentary filmmakers, producers, editors and other managers are welcome.

This class will cover:

  • The ins and outs of libel cases, including common law and constitutional defenses, privileges for opinion and using public records, and the effect of corrections, denials and using anonymous sources
  • Recent trends in libel lawsuits, including lawsuits brought by the president and other public officials
  • Risk analysis and red flags in the pre-publication phase
  • Special legal issues relating to digital media

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Becoming a public records sleuth

Tuesday, Sept. 22, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full.**See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

This half-day workshop will cover the essentials for becoming a public records power sleuth – the key elements for mastering the art of access. David Cuillier, associate professor at the University of Arizona and co-author of The Art of Access, and Grace I. Cheng, Director of Practical Law Government Practice at Thomson Reuters, will lead you through the fundamentals, as well as the latest research and tools, including:

  • Cool records/data and how to find them, including online resources for identifying records and dozens of examples of data worth dipping into
  • Art of the ask: Learning the law, effective request techniques and online tools to assist, such as iFOIA
  • Overcoming denials: How to use psychological strategies, effective appeals, and how to go about suing, even on your own
    Understanding how FOIA officers think and how to better work with them

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Identifying, verifying and reporting on disinformation

Tuesday, Sept. 22, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

In this four-hour workshop, First Draft will show you the tools needed to find and sort problematic content online. They will demonstrate and have you test drive basic verification tools, and discuss the ethics of sourcing from the darker corners of the web. The session will end with a group assignment so that you can test in real time how to add these tools, tactics and techniques into a report.

First Draft is a nonprofit with the mission of helping journalists and others address challenges with disinformation, trust and truth in the digital age. In this class, First Draft trainers will lead you through several tools and strategies needed to navigate and verify online information, including:

  • The seven types of mis- and disinformation
  • Introduction to social verification & why getting it right matters
  • Setting up your desktop/workstation
  • Ethical considerations
  • The Dark Web and mis- & disinformation campaigns designed to fool journalists

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Covering inequality and racial issues on any beat

Wednesday, Sept. 23, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

Regardless of your beat, platform, region or your own perspective covering inequities and racial issues is an integral part of everyone’s reporting. Instructors for this course will include Venise Wagner, a writer and journalism educator, who wrote “Reporting Inequality: Tools and Methods for Covering Race and Ethnicity” and Fernando Díaz, editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, a Chicago publication that investigates the city’s issues of race and poverty.

A more detailed description of this class will be posted soon.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Digital Investigations

Wednesday, Sept. 23, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

This workshop will teach fundamental skills, tools, and techniques for conducting digital investigations. The workshop will mix demos with exercises for participants using tools that are free or reasonably priced. No computer programming or advanced technical skills are required. You’ll learn digital investigative and OSINT techniques that can be used in just about any story.

Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko from BuzzFeed News will show you how to:

  • Find people and online identities
  • Monitor and analyze social media content and accounts
  • Investigate websites
  • Connect it all together using network analysis

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: It’s just video… Until a storyteller creates an experience

Wednesday, Sept. 23, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

Tried and true drivers of the narrative: focus, surprise, suspense, and character are powerful tools. It’s time to put them to work in your stories. Together, let’s answer the questions, why do we laugh, why do we cry, why do we care – and how can we make it happen for our viewers more often? Boyd Huppert will open wide the toolbox that’s helped him earn an unprecedented 19 National Edward R. Murrow Awards in both hard news and feature reporting.

Topics will include:

  • Creating interactive – not passive – viewing experiences
  • The first :30 — hooking viewers with powerful opens
  • How to avoid emotion-draining clichés
  • Unlocking the hidden power in sentences
  • Ten literary devices that will breathe life into your writing
  • Creating moment-driven stories viewers will remember long after the newscast ends
  • Bring a laptop or note pad. This session will be loaded with practical tips to bring back to your newsroom and your next story.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Management

Wednesday, Sept. 23, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

Experienced editors will share practical tips on how they’ve run their teams to produce high-impact investigations and blockbuster projects — even when newsroom resources are tight. Mark Rochester, editor-in-chief at Type Investigations, and Jim Schaefer, senior news director at Detroit Free Press will discuss how they became I-team leaders and detail how they helped their reporters excel.

Topics will include:

  • How to run a team to create the best work
  • Managing up: handling expectations from bosses (and avoiding drive-by editing)
  • Picking stories, producing packages, and bullet-proofing everything
  • The pros and cons of rolling investigations versus long-term projects
  • Maintaining relationships around the newsroom
  • Managing your time and organizing the work

This class is ideal for reporters who are looking to break into leadership and existing editors who want tips on how to manage effectively.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Mastering the interview (print focus)

Thursday, Sept. 24, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

There’s a powerful person or organization in your area and they’re abusing their power. Rumors are swirling about people who’ve been hurt, or money that was stolen. The folks in the know are scared. The flack is spewing hot-smoking nonsense.

You want this story. You want it bad. But you don’t have a clue how to get it.

It may seem hopeless. It is not.

During this half-day session, we’ll demystify the process and break down the concrete steps to take the Big Story. Topics will include:

  • Understanding the role of media/power dynamics with interviewees
  • How to help interviewees understand media literacy
  • How — and when — to land a tough interview
  • Interview preparation
  • Conducting trauma-informed interviews and understanding racial trauma
  • The power of silence
  • How to interview someone who won’t talk to you (and yes, this can be done — sort of)
  • What to do after the interview

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Mastering the interview (broadcast TV focus)

Thursday, Sept. 24, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

Raw, compelling, emotional. Anyone ever use those words to describe an interview from one of your stories? Well … after this class they will! From preparation and mastering the art of the interview to key mistakes to avoid, two veteran, broadcast journalists will arm you with tools to immediately use in your next investigation. You’ll also learn how to navigate our “new normal” and ask tough questions without being in the same room as your subject!

This session with CBS News National Consumer and Investigative Correspondent Anna Werner and Anchor/Investigative Reporter Zaneta Lowe of WREG-TV will include:

  • Interview preparation: We’ll show you how to background like a boss, develop strategic questions and create a blueprint for your interview.
  • Mastering the interview: Three mistakes to avoid during an interview, the one critical key to interviews that has nothing to do with your broadcast skills, and planning for the “unplanned” interview
  • Navigating interviews in our new normal: Using Zoom, FaceTime, shooting with your cell phone? No worries. We’ll walk through some simple steps to help you continue to ask tough questions and conduct compelling interviews while being socially distant, or using virtual technology.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Election reporting in the time of COVID-19

Thursday, Sept. 24, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

This workshop will focus on how to cover voting during this year’s historic pandemic election. ProPublica voting rights reporter Jessica Huseman and Electionland partner manager Rachel Glickhouse will provide a primer on covering election administration, how to report on voting problems responsibly, and key COVID-related issues affecting the election this year. This workshop will cover:

  • How vote by mail works
  • Voting technology
  • Problems at the polling place
  • The vote-counting and certification process
  • Covering voting-related misinformation
  • Where to find voting data and reporting resources

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Writing the investigative narrative

Friday, Sept. 25, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

You’ve gathered data, docs and human sources. Now it’s time to turn your reporting into a story — or a series — that packs a punch. If you’re new to investigative storytelling or want to up your writing game, this workshop is for you.

Alexandra Zayas, senior editor at ProPublica, and Jessica Contrera, enterprise reporter at The Washington Post, will teach you how to:

  • Understanding narrative
  • Reporting for story — How to gather the details and scenes that will give your piece emotional power
  • Focus and framing – Finding your way through all that material
  • Self-editing tips and techniques

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.

 

Master class: Launching an investigative podcast

Friday, Sept. 25, Noon – 4 p.m. (ET) **This class is full. **See waiting list policy above.

Price: $30

This class will give attendees a jumping-off point to launching an investigative podcast.

A more detailed description of this class will be posted soon.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. This class will not be recorded.