Seeing the story: How to write the data-driven investigation

  • Event: 2019 CAR Conference
  • Speakers: Brett Murphy of USA TODAY Network; James Neff of The Philadelphia Inquirer; Paula Lavigne of ESPN; Anita Hassan of Las Vegas Review-Journal
  • Date/Time: Friday, Mar. 8 at 10:15am
  • Location: Salon C
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

Learn tactics for writing the data-laden investigation -- from using best cases to illuminate your findings to organizing story elements into a compelling narrative and not a starchy data-dump. We’ll walk through common problems, examples of well-crafted tops and best practices for structuring stories with emotional heft.

Speaker Bios

  • Anita Hassan joined the Las Vegas Review Journal's investigations team in August 2017. She was previously an investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle, where her award-winning reporting highlighted a massive backlog of untested rape kits, county jail abuses and corruption in a state program civilly committing sex offenders. Her latest investigation uncovered failures in the criminal justice system that allowed a serial rapist in Houston to go free for a decade. 

  • Paula Lavigne is an investigative reporter for ESPN, and a specialist in data-driven journalism. Her work has been honored with a Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont award, and IRE awards among others. She is co-author of "Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University Amid College Football's Sexual Assault Crises." She previously worked in newspapers in Dallas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Tacoma, Wash. She is an alumna of the University of Nebraska and Creighton University.   

  • Brett Murphy is a reporter on USA TODAY’s investigations desk. His most recent series on worker exploitation and lease-to-own contracts in the port trucking industry was Pulitzer finalist for national reporting. Brett previously covered courts, hurricanes and mass-shootings for the Naples Daily News and worked at Investigative Reporters and Editors as a Google NewsLab fellow. He also co-founded Local Matters, a weekly newsletter curating the best investigative reporting around the country. His email is

  • Jim is deputy managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he oversees its 10-member, Pulitzer-winning I-Team. He served 10 years on IRE's board, including a term as president. He is the author of five works of nonfiction, including "Mobbed Up," an IRE Award winner adapted into the HBO film "Teamster Boss" and most recently "Vendetta: Bobby Kennedy vs. Jimmy Hoffa." Among Jim's passions are narrative  writing, archival research, and fighting for public records.  

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