2015 Fort Collins Watchdog Workshop

Hosted by: Colorado State University Department of Journalism & Media Communication, The Coloradoan and Colorado State University Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

This training will offer several of our core sessions that will improve your ability to find information on the Web quickly, and point you to key documents and data that will help you add depth to your daily work and produce quick-hit enterprise stories. In addition, this workshop will give you tips on bulletproofing stories, digging deeper on the Web with social media, search engines and much more.

These sessions are designed for reporters, editors, and producers from small, midsize and large publications, TV, radio stations, Web-only news sites and news blogs. Freelancers, students and journalism educators are also encouraged to attend.

Join IRE's experienced trainers and a group of veteran reporters for our Watchdog Workshop Friday, September 25th. Friday's training will take place at The Coloradoan in the community room.

Get the tools and the tricks of the trade that you need to be a better, faster, watchdog journalist.

Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting Training

Saturday September 26, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

*Saturday's optional hands-on training will take place at Colorado State University in Clark A-70.

Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, election data and more. Also, learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

Campus Map

Colorado State University


Friday: Free parking around The Coloradoan

Saturday: Parking Lot on Pitkin Street, West of East Drive

Workshop Fees

(includes a one-year IRE membership. If you are a current IRE member, your membership will be extended by one year. Attendees must meet IRE membership terms)

$55 Professional

$25 Student

$30 Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting Training (hands-on)


If you are a current member, please complete your registration online by logging into your member profile. Once you have logged in, click on my profile, next to the welcome and your name. Once you are in the members-only side of the database, select conferences and events on the left-hand side of the screen under my profile, then select the 2015 Fort Collins Watchdog Workshop.

If your membership has expired or you are not currently an IRE member, you can still register for the workshop online.

Cancellations must be sent via email to Tricia Morgan, [email protected]. There is a $25 processing fee for professionals ($10 for students) for cancellations until the day before the event.

Refunds will not be given for cancellations on the day of, or after the event.

Workshop evaluations 

Attendees can access the workshop evaluation online. We appreciate feedback from attendees as this allows us to improve the program and provide feedback to our funders.

Time and place

Friday, Sep. 25, 2015 - Saturday, Sep. 26, 2015

The Coloradoan
1300 Riverside Ave
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

Schedule details

  • Panel

    Welcome and overview

    Speaker: Alex Richards of Syracuse University

    Community room

    9:00 am - 9:15 am

  • Panel

    Web, search and social media for investigators

    Speaker: Alex Richards of Syracuse University

    Find documents and databases on deadline with better search techniques and the invisible Web. Learn how to locate reliable websites for enterprise stories and receive guidance on the best social media tools for your next investigation.


    Community Room

    9:15 am - 10:15 pm

  • Panel

    Investigating through the haze: Watchdogging the cannabis industry

    Speaker: Katie Wilcox of KPNX/NBC12 Phoenix

    Having an industry in your state that contradicts federal law can cause a million problems. Some cannabis businesses pay more in taxes than they make in profits; others have to actually wash their money to get it into banks. Worker safety is questionable at best since federal pesticide and OSHA laws may not apply. The regulated portion only accounts for about half of the marijuana industry in Colorado, and police struggle to tell what's legal from what's not. This session will cover how to develop sources in both the legal and quasi-legal markets, point attendees towards the wide amount of data available and touch on ideas for further reporting.


    Community Room

    10:30 am - 11:30 am

  • Panel

    FOI and open records

    Speakers: Peg Perl of Colorado Ethics Watch; Jeff Roberts of Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

    Learn how to use federal and state open records laws to draft records requests the right way. Covers ways to challenge denials and keep a steady flow of information coming into the newsroom with FOI.


    Community Room

    11:30 am - 12:30 pm

  • Outside Event

    See printed schedule for room information

    12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

  • Panel

    The art of the interview

    Speaker: Nicole Vap of KUSA/9News Denver

    Learn the best ways to approach sources and prepare for interviews. Includes advice on conducting video interviews for your website. Plenty of tips and strategies for handling tough situations, ethical trouble spots, etc.


    Community Room

    1:45 pm - 2:45 pm

  • Panel

    Assembling a powerful investigation even in a small newsroom

    Speaker: Doug Pardue of independent journalist

    A nuts and bolts look at “Till death do us part,” winner of the 2015 Pulitzer for Public Service. The session will cover generating investigative ideas and picking the right one; winning support from editors and the time to do it; building a database to support an investigative series; and weaving the reporting from several journalists together into a solid package that works in print, online and social media.


    Community Room

    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Panel

    Digging deeper with data and documents

    Speakers: Nick Penzenstadler of USA TODAY Network; Anna Boiko-Weyrauch of Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

    Move beyond anecdotes and he-said, she-said journalism with data and documents. 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.


    Community Room

    4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

  • Panel

    Wrap-up / Getting the IRE edge

    Speaker: Alex Richards of Syracuse University

    Community Room

    5:00 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting Training

    Speaker: Alex Richards of Syracuse University

    Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, elections and more. Also learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories.

    NOTE: Registration is required for this session. Click here to sign up.

    Colorado State University: Clark A-70

    9:00 am - 12:30 pm