Owning the local government beat: Finding meaningful, investigative stories in (seemingly) common places

  • Event: 2019 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Brian Collister of Investigative Network; Erin Mansfield of USA TODAY Network; Arlene Martinez of Ventura County Star
  • Date/Time: Thursday, Jun. 13 at 3:45pm
  • Location: Texas G
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

Decisions made locally impact every aspect of a person’s life, from housing and jobs to public safety, recreation and homeless services.

But is taxpayer money being efficiently managed and spent so it goes where it’s most needed?

Learn about mining Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, the consequences soaring pension debt nationwide will have on communities and how to consider routine agendas in a new light. The panel will focus on how and where to find sources, public records and datasets and ideas for stories you can immediately start doing. Get tips on building larger-scale investigative projects, while still feeding the daily beast.

Speaker Bios

  • Brian Collister is an award-winning investigative reporter and creator of the Investigative Network. He specialized in uncovering fraud, corruption and government waste. His investigations have resulted in the criminal convictions of public officials, passage of new laws and embezzled public funds being returned to taxpayers.

  • Erin is an investigative reporter for the USA Today Network based in Columbus, Ohio. She previously held city and county governments accountable in East Texas for the Tyler Morning Telegraph; covered health care, business, telecommunications, energy, and the Vermont Legislature for VTDigger.org; and wrote about town Select Boards for her hometown paper, the Rutland Herald. Twitter: @_erinmansfield 

  • Arlene Martinez covers local government and energy as part of the Ventura County Star’s investigative team. She has reported extensively on pensions, budgets, tax incentives, labor issues and homelessness. She worked at Hispanic Link News Service, the Los Angeles Times and The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, before returning to her native California in 2012. She is a 2018 Ravitch Fiscal Reporting fellow and loves CAFRs. @avmartinez

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