Infiltrating government agencies

  • Event: 2019 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Andrea Ball of USA TODAY Network; J. David McSwane of ProPublica; Matthew Mosk of ABC News
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 14 at 10:15am
  • Location: Texas G
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

FOIA bombing, late-night parking garage meetings, immersing yourself in esoteric bureaucratic language, charming the secretary, snail mail, crashing Christmas parties. These reporters have infiltrated secretive state and federal agencies to expose wrongdoing, uncover hidden tragedies and improve public policy. This panel includes tips on source development, where to find data and records, and smart crafting of records requests to get what you want.

Speaker Bios

  • Andrea Ball is an investigative reporter at the Austin American-Statesman. Her work has included reports on medical care at state psychiatric hospitals, deaths of abused children, and corruption at state agencies. Ball graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1993. She has received national and state honors, including the 2019 Texas Associated Press Managing Editors award for community service for a series on dangerous conditions at day cares.

  • McSwane is a reporter in ProPublica's D.C. office. Previously, he worked at the Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman and a small Florida newspaper. McSwane's reporting has spurred new laws and state and federal criminal investigations, forced belt-tightening lawmakers to invest in social programs and won several awards including Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize, two IRE awards and a Peabody. 

  • Matthew Mosk @mattmosk is a senior producer on the ABC News investigative unit, overseeing enterprise reporting on Washington and politics. Mosk came to ABC News 10 years ago, after a career in print journalism, including staff positions covering government and politics with The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record, the Baltimore Sun, and The Washington Post.

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