2016 Fort Myers Watchdog Workshop

Hosted by: Florida Gulf Coast University Journalism Program 

Co-Sponsored by: The Smith Family Foundation and Naples Daily News

IRE will offer several of its core sessions, designed to improve your ability to find information on the Web quickly, point you to critical documents and data for more depth in your daily work and help you produce quick-hit enterprise stories. Workshop sessions will also give you tips on how to negotiate for records, investigate politicans, get sources to open up 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, February 5th.

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

This program is made possible thanks to support from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting hands-on training

Saturday, February 6, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

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

Florida Gulf Coast University


Parking is available in Garage 3, Garage 1, and the open air lot next to Garage 1. There is no fee for parking, but you must stop by the information booth at the main entrance for a guest parking pass. 

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)

Registration Information

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, select conferences and events on the left-hand side of the screen and the 2016 Fort Myers Watchdog Workshop.

If you are not a current IRE member, you can still register here 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, Feb. 5, 2016 - Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016

Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd South
Fort Myers, Florida 33965

Cohen Center, Room 247

Registration information

Registration for this event is open! Click here to begin.

Hurry! Registration closes on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 12:00pm.

Schedule details

  • Workshop




    Cohen Center Room 247

    8:30 am - 9:00 am

  • Panel

    Welcome and overview of the workshop

    Speaker: Mark Horvit of University of Missouri

    Cohen Center, Room 247

    9:00 am - 9:15 am

  • Panel

    Effective use of the Internet

    Speaker: Mark Horvit of University of Missouri

    What reporters and editors need to know. From better search techniques to the invisible Web, how to find documents and databases on deadline and where to find reliable websites for enterprise stories. The craft of better searching and not wasting time. Handling issues of credibility and ethics online.


    Cohen Center, Room 247

    9:15 am - 10:15 am

  • Panel

    Quick-hit investigations

    Speakers: Mark Horvit of University of Missouri; Tisha Thompson of ESPN; Ryan Mills of Naples Daily News

    **Moderated by Mark Horvit, IRE

    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.

    Cohen Center, Room 247

    10:30 am - 11:30 am

  • Panel

    The art of the interview

    Speaker: Tisha Thompson of ESPN

    Learn the best ways to approach sources, prepare and handle the interview process. Advice for conducting video interviews for your website. Plenty of tips and strategies for handing tough situations, ethical trouble spots, etc.


    Cohen Center, Room 247

    11:30 am - 12:30 pm

  • Outside Event

    See printed schedule for room information

    12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

  • Panel

    Investigating politicians

    Speaker: James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal

    With campaign season in full swing, learn how to background elected officials, follow the campaign cash and make sure that your audience knows everything it needs to know about the candidates seeking public office.

    Cohen Center, Room 247

    1:45 pm - 3:00 pm

  • Panel

    Building sources and overcoming the spin

    Speakers: Manny Garcia of ProPublica; Jorge Lopez of Jorge Luis Lopez Law Firm, LLC

    Naples Daily News Editor Manny Garcia often covered clients of attorney Jorge Lopez, a veteran political consultant. They'll offer great insight into developing sources on the government beat, mining campaign workers for intelligence and cutting through the spin to get the story that politicians don't want you to find.

    Cohen Center, Room 247

    3:15 pm - 4:15 pm

  • Panel

    Digging deeper with data and documents

    Speaker: Alexandra Zayas of ProPublica

    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.


    Cohen Center, Room 247

    4:15 pm - 5:00 pm

  • Panel

    Wrap-up/what IRE can do for you

    Speaker: Mark Horvit of University of Missouri

    Cohen Center, Room 247

    5:00 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting hands-on training

    Speaker: Mark Horvit of University of Missouri

    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.

    Reed Hall, Room 144

    9:00 am - 12:30 pm