2019 San Marcos Watchdog Workshop

Hosted by: Texas State University School of Journalism & Mass Communication

IRE will offer several of its core sessions, designed to improve your ability to find information on the Web quickly, and point you to key documents and data that will help you add depth to your daily work and produce quick-hit enterprise stories. In addition, this workshop will give you tips on bulletproofing stories, digging deeper on the Web with social media, search engines and much more.

These sessions are designed for reporters, editors, and producers from small, midsize and large publications, TV, radio stations, Web-only news sites and news blogs. Freelancers, students and journalism educators are also encouraged to attend.

Expected speakers include: Melissa del Bosque, The Investigative Fund; Matt Dempsey & Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle; Josh Hinkle, KXAN/NBC Austin; Kimbriell Kelly, The Washington Post; Denise Malan, IRE/NICAR; and Kelley Shannon, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

Join IRE's experienced trainers and a group of veteran reporters for our Watchdog Workshop Saturday, February 9.

Get the tools and the tricks of the trade that you need to be a better, faster, watchdog journalist.

This program is made possible thanks to support from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Optional Hands-on Spreadsheet Training

Sunday, February 10, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, election data and more. Also, learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

Workshop Location

Saturday’s workshop will take place in Centennial Hall, Room 157. Sunday’s optional session will take place in Old Main, Room 201. A campus map can be found here.


Workshop attendees can park for free and without a permit on any floor of the Pleasant Street Garage on Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Workshop Fees (includes a one-year IRE membership, if you are a current IRE member, your membership will be extended by one year. Attendees must meet IRE membership terms)

$55 Professional

$25 Student

$30 Optional Computer-Assisted Reporting Training (hands-on)


If you are a current member, please complete your registration online by logging into your member profile. Once you have logged in, click on my profile, next to the welcome and your name. Once you are in the members-only side of the database, select conferences and events on the left-hand side of the screen under my profile, then select the 2019 San Marcos Watchdog Workshop.

If your membership has expired or you are not currently an IRE member, you can still register for the workshop here.

Cancellations must be sent via email to Dylan Sinn, [email protected]  There is a $25 processing fee for professionals ($10 for students) for cancellations until the day before the event.  Refunds will not be given for cancellations on the day of, or after the event.

Workshop evaluations

Attendees can access the workshop evaluation online. We appreciate feedback from attendees as this allows us to improve the program and provide feedback to our funders.

Time and place

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019

Texas State University
120 Old Main Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

Registration information

Registration for this event is open! Click here to begin.

Hurry! Registration closes on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 12:00pm.

Schedule details

  • Panel

    Welcome & overview

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    9:00 am - 9:15 am

  • Panel

    Developing an investigative mindset

    Speakers: Lise Olsen of Texas Observer; Josh Hinkle of KXAN/NBC Austin

    Solid watchdog journalism isn't just for the I-team. Learn how investigative methods and tools can transform your reporting, whether they're quick turns or long-term enterprise pieces.

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    9:15 am - 10:30 am

  • Panel

    Write better public records requests

    Speakers: Matt Dempsey of Houston Chronicle; Kelley Shannon of Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas

    What can you get? In this session, you'll pick up tips on writing and managing effective records requests to hold public officials to account.

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    10:45 am - 12:00 pm

  • Outside Event

    See printed schedule for room information

    12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

  • Panel

    Build your beat: Tips on sourcing and interviewing

    Speaker: Kimbriell Kelly of Los Angeles Times

    Own your beat by improving how you develop sources, conduct interviews and handle tough situations.

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

  • Panel

    Immigration stories to do in your community

    Speaker: Melissa del Bosque of The Investigative Fund

    An overview of key immigration stories that you could do in your community right now.

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    2:45 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Panel

    Web for watchdogs

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    A guide to finding things on the Internet on deadline. How to find sources, verify information and search effectively.

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    4:15 pm - 5:15 pm

  • Panel

    Wrapping up: What IRE can do for you

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Learn about the many benefits of IRE membership.

    Centennial Hall - Room 157

    5:15 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional hands-on spreadsheet training (San Marcos)

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a fairly simple but powerful spreadsheet application, to begin analyzing data for stories. We'll start from the beginning with basic formulas and work our way up to summarizing information using pivot tables and more. How do you think about data analysis as a journalist? How do you find the story within the columns and rows?

    Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

    NOTE: Registration is required for this session. Click here to sign up.

    Old Main, Room 201

    9:00 am - 12:30 pm