Behind the story: Schools without rules

  • Event: 2018 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Leslie Postal of Orlando Sentinel; Anne Martin of Orlando Sentinel; Beth Kassab of Orlando Sentinel
  • Date/Time: Thursday, Jun. 14 at 10:15am
  • Location: Oceans 3
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

Three Orlando Sentinel reporters spent six-months investigating Florida’s scholarship programs, which will send nearly $1 billion to private schools this year. The project meant reviewing thousands of pages of documents and making in-person visits to dozens of private schools. The reporters discovered soon-to-be evicted schools set up in rundown buildings, campuses where teachers lacked college degrees, and a principal under investigation for child molestation who was able to keep taking Florida vouchers by closing one school and then opening another under a new name.

This behind-the-story session will go through how reporters handled the school visits (most were unannounced), how they requested and organized data (from enrollment numbers to parent complaints sent to the state) and searched for other needed information. They’ll also cover what worked, and what didn’t, as they tried to stay organized while still doing other stories on their beats.

Speaker Bios

  • Beth Kassab leads the Orlando Sentinel's investigative work. Last year her team produced "Schools Without Rules," which was a finalist for the Scripps Howard First Amendment award. Before taking on this new role in 2017, Beth was a columnist at the Sentinel for 10 years. Beth graduated from the University of Florida, where she she serves on the Journalism College's advisory council. She lives in Oviedo with her husband and two young children. @bethkassab 

  • Annie Martin has spent her career covering education, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities. She was one of three reporters behind the Orlando Sentinel's 2017 "Schools Without Rules" series, which was a finalist for the Scripps Howard Foundation's First Amendment award. She previously worked for the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Battle Creek (Mich) Enquirer. She's a Washington state native and graduate of Northwestern University. @reporterannie

  • Leslie Postal is an education reporter at the Orlando Sentinel, covering K-12 schools in the Orlando area as well as statewide education issues. She was among a group of Sentinel journalists who won a Scripps Howard Award for literacy coverage, and this year, along with two colleagues, was a finalist for the Scripps Howard first amendment award. @lesliepostal

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