On the beat: Harvesting stories from Big Ag

  • Event: 2018 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Pam Dempsey of The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting; Sam Fromartz of The Food & Environment Reporting Network, Inc.; Brant Houston of University of Illinois; Peggy Lowe of KCUR 89.3
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 15 at 2:30pm
  • Location: Oceans 3
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

Whether it's exploitation of migrant workers, foreign purchases of farmland and companies, deadly food recalls, pollution and pesticides, or wasteful government spending, there are many big agribusiness stories going unnoticed. This session will identify databases, expert sources and ideas and techniques for investigations into these fertile fields.

Speaker Bios

  • Pam Dempsey is the executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. She is an award-winning journalist who has done investigative reporting and editing on topics including agribusiness, migrant farm workers, health, housing and Native American government. Dempsey, who is an online, print and radio journalist, has developed community engagement programs and investigative reporting workshops. @pamelagdempsey

  • Sam Fromartz is a co-founder and the editor-in-chief of the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, non-profit, investigative news organization. Founded seven years ago, FERN has partnered with more than 50 other media companies, producing stories in its focus area of food, agriculture and environmental health. Fromartz is a veteran journalist and author of two food-related books. @Fromartz @FERNnews

  • Brant Houston is the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois. Before Illinois he was executive director of IRE for more than a decade after 17 years as an award-winning investigative reporter in U.S. newsrooms. He is author of  "Data for Journalists: A Practical Guide to Computer-Assisted Reporting" and co-author of "The Investigative Reporter's Handbook." He works with nonprofit newsrooms and co-founded INN and GIJN. 

  • Peggy Lowe is a veteran reporter with KCUR, Harvest Public Media and APM Reports, a public media investigative collaboration. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and APM’s Marketplace. Her investigative project, “Dangerous Jobs, Cheap Meat,” won top prize from the Public Radio News Directors' in 2017. @peggyllowe

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