Freelance investigations

  • Event: 2018 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Samantha Sunne of independent journalist; Hilary Niles of independent journalist; Cat Ferguson of independent journalist; Mc Nelly Torres of independent journalist
  • Date/Time: Thursday, Jun. 14 at 3:45pm
  • Location: Oceans 3
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

An investigator has to juggle more than the average reporter - long lead time, high expectations, a wide variety of tasks and deadlines (or sometimes worse, no deadlines). That's even more pronounced for freelancers. How do you know when you have a good enough investigation to pitch? How deep do you dive before you know you're getting paid? How do you build sources without a household name? A few freelance investigative reporters with experience in these areas will share their own tips and take questions from the audience - current or prospective freelancers welcome.

Speaker Bios

  • Cat Ferguson is a freelance investigative reporter focused primarily on healthcare. She was nominated for the 2018 Livingston Award in national reporting based on her investigation of deceptive marketing in the addiction treatment industry. Prior to freelancing, she worked for BuzzFeed News and Retraction Watch. @biocuriosity

  • Hilary Niles produces narrative, investigative and data-driven journalism for public radio, print and online publications. She also consults with newsrooms on data management. In 2017, Hilary began developing a public database of Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest for the Sunlight Foundation. Other freelance clients include Vermont Public Radio, NPR, BBC and the Boston Globe. Hilary chairs SPJ’s Freelance Community and serves on its FOI Committee. @nilesmedia

  • Samantha Sunne is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She speaks at conferences, universities and newsrooms around the world, teaching digital tools and tech literacy for journalists. Her work has been published by the Washington Post, NPR and Reuters, and recommended by the Poynter Institute and the Harvard Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. @samanthasunne

  • Mc Nelly Torres is an independent award-winning journalist based in South Florida. As a freelance journalist, she has done work for Bloomberg and the Center for Investigative Journalism of P.R. In 2010, Torres co-founded Her work at the Sun-Sentinel won state, regional and national awards. She covered education for the San Antonio Express-News where her work contributed to the conviction of a school building architect. In South Carolina, she garnered local and state awards for her investigative work on the state's hog farm permit process. Torres served on IRE’s Board from 2008-2014. @WatchdogDiva

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