Customized training

Get more bang for your limited training bucks by bringing IRE and NICAR to your newsroom. It’s a winning partnership: You decide what skills your staff needs to sharpen, and we put together training to help you reach your goals. The training is surprisingly affordable, with a proven track record of producing results.

Our experience includes more than 500 workshops during the past six years, including giants such as The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and CBS News to aggressive smaller newspapers and television stations such as the Aberdeen (S.D.) American News, KTVU-Oakland and The York (Pa.) Dispatch.

Mix and match from a variety of training options for reporters, editors and producers, including:

  • Hands-on training in using spreadsheets and/or databases  |  Use computer-assisted reporting for better watchdog stories and beat coverage. We offer beginning, intermediate and advanced training.
  • Tapping into Twitter and social media | Making effective use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites for reporting and digging. How to connect with sources on social media, follow breaking news in real time, and track conversations and commentary in a specific geographic area.
  • Web for watchdogs | From better search techniques to the invisible Web, how to find reliable information on deadline and for enterprise stories. Tips on more effective Web searches. The latest search engines, data sites and other practical information you can use immediately. Using free applications for mapping, timelines, and other reporting tools and visuals.
  • Paper and database trails | Advice on developing a documents state of mind, navigating public records, understanding records retention schedules, exploring key records on a variety of beats, and becoming familiar with key national data sets to produce high-impact local stories.
  • Public records: Let the sunshine in | Advice on crafting records requests, tracking them and holding officials’ feet to the FOIA fire. Includes strategies for dealing with excuses and obstacles from public officials who stand in your way of getting key documents and data.
  • Bulletproofing the story | Strategies, tips and techniques for reporters, editors, producers and online staff to ensure accuracy.
  • Quick-hit investigations | Strategies, story ideas, resources and tips for watchdog stories on a variety of beats. How to produce meaty enterprise stories that may take a few days or a few weeks rather than months.
  • Great watchdog reporting | A fast-paced look at some of the best investigative and watchdog stories from the past year in print, broadcast and online. Full of inspiration, story ideas, sources and data tips.
  • Mining data and documents on campus | Regardless of your beat, you can benefit from story ideas, public records and data available about your local colleges and universities. Topics include faculty/administrator salaries, Congressional earmarks for campuses, crime on campus, sports budgets, research grants and income from licenses/patents.
  • Introduction to computer-assisted reporting | An overview of the key computer tools used to produce investigative stories (spreadsheets, databases, mapping and statistical analysis software), with examples of stories that were made possible only with these CAR tools.
  • Fostering a watchdog culture in the newsroom | An interactive exercise to identify your newsroom’s vision for watchdog journalism, the obstacles holding you back, ideas for producing more investigative work, and personal responsibility and goals for each participant.
  • Storyboarding, planning and managing watchdog work | A discussion of ways to produce high-quality investigative stories, with an emphasis on vetting ideas, having a fallback plan and keeping channels of communication open inside the newsroom.
  • Visualizing data | Use free Web tools such as Google Fusion Tables and Tableau Public to produce interactive charts, graphics and maps.
  • Coding for journalists | An advanced series of sessions that show how your computer can take over repetitive tasks — collecting the same data over and over, downloading files you have to frequently grab, getting coordinates for addresses, etc. — so that you can spend your time and energy reporting.
  • Cleaning up dirty data | We’ll show you techniques and software tools for refining problematic data in a timely fashion — fixes that can get you closer to publication instead of toiling in spreadsheets.
  • Mapping analysis | An overview of data reporting with common geographic information systems like QGIS, which give you the power to attach data to locations and tally things up within a given space.
  • Investigating nonprofits | Nonprofit doesn’t mean no profit, and it helps to know how these organizations are operating in your area. This session will show you some ways to dig into nonprofits and charities, including red flags to keep an eye out for on tax documents.
  • Backgrounding strategies | We all know that people make the story, but how can you dig up information on them? This session offers some techniques and resources used to find people, verify their information and uncover their online presence.
  • Tools to help you get the job done | Using free applications for mapping, web scraping, timelines, and visuals. Reporting tools to help save you time. No coding required.
  • Investigating businesses | A private business does create public information. This session will show you some ways to dig deeper into businesses. We’ll show you where to look and what records and data are available.
  • Daily watchdog | How to integrate watchdog into your shift. Tips on time management, organization and daily watchdog stories
  • The anatomy of an investigation | We’ll offer plenty of story examples and deconstruct several investigations. What documents and data were used? Open records laws? What questions should you be asking? How to generate ideas? Advice from reporters for others looking to do similar work. We’ll look at a “litmus test” for whether a story is worth further investigation and we’ll talk about ways you can get the rest of your staff involved.
  • Interactive graphics with Tableau Public | Learn how to create interactive data visualizations without programming. We will introduce Tableau Public and how you can create simple graphics for your next online story.
  • Presenting your findings | How to present your data analysis so it gets noticed. We’ll showcase what works, what doesn’t, how to conceptualize and what tools are available.


Working with our training directors, you can put together the most effective schedule for your staff.


Our fee structure

Our in-house training is tailored to fit your needs as well as your newsroom’s budget. Fees are based on organization size and set up as a daily rate. Discounts are available for multiple days of training. For detailed information, please contact IRE’s senior training director Denise Malan at or 479-422-2405.