2017 East Lansing Watchdog Workshop

Hosted by: Michigan State University, School of Journalism in collaboration with the Michigan Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.

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, 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 Saturday, April 1 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Expected speakers include Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times; M.L. Elrick of Fox 2-TV in Detroit; Jennifer Dixon of the Detroit Free Press; Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Bridge magazine; Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News; Jill Riepenhoff of The Columbus Dispatch; attorney Robin Luce-Herrmann of Butzel Long; and Doug Haddix of IRE/NICAR.

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

Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting hands-on training 

Sunday, April 2, 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. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

Campus Map

Map: Michigan State University main campus


Free parking is available right next to the building as well in a structure adjacent to the building. These parking areas are reflected in the map as 52, 49 and 48.

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 2017 Lansing 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 Lara Dieringer, [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

Saturday, Apr. 1, 2017 - Sunday, Apr. 2, 2017

Michigan State University
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
404 Wilson Road
East Lansing, Michigan 48824

Registration information

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

Hurry! Registration closes on Saturday, Apr. 1 at 12:00pm.

Schedule details

  • Panel

    Welcome and workshop overview

    Speaker: Doug Haddix of IRE and NICAR

    Auditorium - Room 147

    9:00 am - 9:15 am

  • Panel

    Investigating troubled schools

    Speakers: Michael LaForgia of The New York Times; Chastity Pratt Dawsey of Bridge Magazine

    Discover key documents, data and strategies to hold educators, lawmakers and others accountable for failing schools. Lessons learned from the Pulitzer Prize-winning project, "Failure Factories," by the Tampa Bay Times.

    Auditorium - Room 147

    9:15 am - 10:15 am

  • Panel

    FOI and open records

    Speaker: Robin Luce Herrmann of Butzel Long

    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.

    Auditorium - Room 147

    10:30 am - 11:15 am

  • Panel

    Art of the interview

    Speakers: M.L. Elrick of Fox 2 Detroit; Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News

    Learn the best ways to approach sources and prepare for interviews. Includes advice on conducting video interviews. Plenty of tips and strategies for handling tough situations, ethical trouble spots, etc. Also includes tips for who to get on camera, how to convince people to talk, how to write questions and how to follow up after the interview.

    Auditorium - Room 147

    11:30 am - 12:30 pm

  • Outside Event

    Wilson Hall

    12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

  • Panel

    Digging deeper with data and docs

    Speakers: Jennifer Dixon of Detroit Free Press; Doug Haddix of IRE and NICAR

    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.

    Auditorium - Room 147

    2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

  • Panel

    Uncovering big news in sports

    Speaker: Jill Riepenhoff of InvestigateTV

    Reporters on a variety of beats can mine high school, college and professional sports for powerful news stories with impact. Discover documents and data that can help investigate your local team, sports franchise or youth sports program.

    Auditorium - Room 147

    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Panel

    Web, search and social media for investigators

    Speaker: Doug Haddix of IRE and NICAR

    Become a smarter, more efficient Web navigator to find just the information and sources you need, even on deadline. Tap into the power of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms and digital apps to spot trends, find sources and verify information.

    Auditorium - Room 147

    4:15 pm - 5:15 pm

  • Panel


    Speaker: Doug Haddix of IRE and NICAR

    Auditorium - Room 147

    5:15 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional computer-assisted reporting training

    Speakers: Doug Haddix of IRE and NICAR; Jill Riepenhoff of InvestigateTV

    Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a fairly simple but powerful spreadsheet application, to begin analyzing data for stories. We'll start from the beginning with basic formulas and work our way up to summarizing information using pivot tables and more. How do you think about data analysis as a journalist? How do you find the story within the columns and rows?

    Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

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

    Room 242/243

    9:00 am - 12:30 pm