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. Register for these workshops when you complete your conference registration.

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 May 24. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after May 24 due to the limited seating in these classes.


Master class: Becoming a public records sleuth

** This class is full. 

Thursday, June 13, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructors: David Cuillier, The University of Arizona; Jennifer LaFleur, Investigative Reporting Workshop

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 Jennifer LaFleur, data editor at Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, 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

You’ll dig into hands-on activities such as trying the online tools, brainstorming ideas, and workshopping request language. You’ll leave as a master public records sleuth with a plan for requests to submit when you get back home.

Please bring your laptop fully charged if you have one.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.

 

Master class: Leading an investigations team

** This class is full. 

Thursday, June 13, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructors: Leslie Eaton, The Marshall Project; Steve Riley, Houston Chronicle

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. Leslie Eaton, senior editor of The Marshall Project, and Steve Riley, interim executive editor of the Houston Chronicle, 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. 

 

Master class: Trump, the First Amendment, and media law for investigative journalists

Thursday, June 13, 2-6 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructors: George Freeman & Jeff Hermes, Media Law Resource Center; Katie Townsend, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

This four-hour workshop will begin with a discussion of threats to the First Amendment under the Trump Administration and then move into a discussion of specific areas of the law affecting your reporting process and content, including libel, invasion of privacy, confidential sources, subpoenas, and copyright issues. Attorneys from the Media Law Resource Center and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will cover some of the biggest pitfalls and how to avoid them. Reporters, producers, editors and other managers are welcome.

This class will cover:

  • Threats to “open up” libel laws and White House attacks on the press
  • Strategies to avoid getting sued for defamation and invasion of privacy
  • 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
  • Leaks and working with confidential sources
  • Subpoenas for source identities and newsgathering materials
  • The fundamentals of copyright, fair use, and licensing
  • Special legal issues relating to digital media, including embedding of content and the use of material published on social media platforms

*Please note: This session starts at 2 p.m., a half hour before the main conference schedule.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.

 

Master class: Writing the narrative

We’re offering two sections of this class. Please only sign up for one.

Thursday, June 13, 2:30-6 p.m.

Instructors: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The Post and Courier, and Deanna Pan, The Boston Globe

** This section is full.

Friday, June 14, 2:30-6 p.m.

Instructor: Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly

** This section is full.

Cost: $35

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.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll cover the entire story lifecycle, from reporting to writing to planning for publication. Topics include:

  • 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
  • Developing a story team — How to get photographers, artists, designers, digital producers and editors unified behind a common vision

We’ll look at examples of successful stories, pulling back the curtain to see how they came together.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.

 

Master class: Seven deadly sins of the broadcast interview

** This class is full. 

Thursday, June 13, 2:30-6 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructor: John Sawatsky, independent journalist

For nearly a decade and a half John Sawatsky’s three-day interview workshop at ESPN functioned as an onboarding boot camp for the network’s anchors, reporters and producers. The highlight of this unique experience was a segment dubbed the Seven Deadly Sins, which stood out because of how quickly and innately people related to it.

This year John is presenting a compressed version of the Seven Deadly Sins at the IRE Conference in the form of a master class.

This session shows how the incredible power of the question can be easily harnessed. If you wonder why some questions roll up their sleeves and go to work while others roll over and die, this class will open your eyes and boost your effectiveness.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited. 

 

Master class: Identifying, verifying and reporting on disinformation

Friday, June 14, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructors: Aimee Rinehart & Shaydanay Urbani, First Draft News

In this three-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 Executive Chairwoman Claire Wardle and Partnerships Director Aimee Rinehart 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.

 

Master class: The solo journalist in a digital/broadcast newsroom

Friday, June 14, 2:30-6 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructor: Brendan Keefe, WXIA-Atlanta

How can one person do it all and do it well? Brendan Keefe has won an IRE Award, Peabody, duPont/Columbia and multiple National Murrow awards all since choosing to work as his own photographer, video editor, researcher and reporter. Brendan will show you how he sets up multiple cameras for investigative interviews and how working alone can actually be an advantage for surveillance and accountability investigations.

This three-hour seminar will feature real-world examples of the solo investigator’s craft and in-person demonstrations for beginners and advanced visual storytellers. As a bonus, Brendan will share the gadgets, tools and apps that allow him to capture the shot and make documents sing for digital and television.

Experienced and aspiring MMJs will benefit most from this seminar, but reporters with an interest in adding to their skill sets — and photographer/editors who want to step up their game — will also learn valuable techniques that can be implemented immediately.

Pre-registration is required and seating is limited.

 

Master class: Mastering the interview (print focus)

** This class is full. 

Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Instructors: Marisa Kwiatkowski, USA TODAY Network; Corey Johnson, Tampa Bay Times

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.

Through the magic of interviewing, you can crack the code. This Master Class by investigative reporters Marisa Kwiatkowski and Corey Johnson is designed to teach you how.

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

  • How — and when — to land a tough interview
  • Interview preparation
  • Interviewing people who have been hurt, and interviewing the people who hurt them
  • 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.