2019 Milwaukee Watchdog Workshop

**This workshop has reached capacity. Please email logistics@ire.org to inquire about possible cancellations.

Hosted by: Marquette University

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: April Barker, Schott, Bublitz & Engel SC; Michael Berens, Thomson Reuters; Greg Borowski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Steve Chamraz, WTMJ-Milwaukee; Dee J. Hall, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism; Natasha Haverty, Independent Journalist; Eric Litke, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Maria Perez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Dave Umhoefer, Marquette University.

Join IRE's experienced trainers and a group of veteran reporters for our Watchdog Workshop Saturday, March 30.

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, March 31, 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 Johnston Hall, Room 107. Sunday’s optional session will take place in Johnston Hall 3rd Floor, Room 314. A campus map can be found here. The workshop will take place in building 8 on the map.


There is both on the street parking (metered) and university parking.  Guests can park in Structure 2, located at 1240 W. Wells Street (about 1 block from Johnston Hall). Parking is also available in Structure 1, located at 749 N. 16th Street (about 5 blocks away from Johnston Hall).  Cost is $10.00 for the day.   Credit Card only.  

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)


Registration can be done by clicking on "click here to begin" which can be found below. Current or expired members will log into their profile. If you do not have a profile, you will be able to create one and then register for the event. Instructions will be found when clicking "click here to begin" which can be found below. 

Cancellations must be sent via email to Dylan Sinn, dylan@ire.org.  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, Mar. 30, 2019 - Sunday, Mar. 31, 2019

Marquette University
1131 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233

Registration information

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

Hurry! Registration closes on Saturday, Mar. 30 at 12:00pm.

Schedule details

  • Panel

    Welcome / overview

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    9:00 am - 9:15 am

  • Panel

    Watchdogging local government

    Speakers: Eric Litke of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Dave Umhoefer of Marquette University

    Local government beats -- city, county, schools and others -- are fertile ground for watchdog and accountability stories. We'll look at strategies, story ideas, resources and tips for going beyond meeting coverage to bring your audience the most impactful stories.

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    9:15 am - 10:15 am

  • Panel

    Prying loose public records

    Speakers: April Barker of Schott, Bublitz & Engel, s.c.; Dee J. Hall of Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

    What can you get (and not get) in the way of public records in Wisconsin and the region? Learn key strategies for crafting effective public records requests and tracking them to keep the heat on government officials.

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    10:15 am - 11:15 am

  • Panel

    The art of the investigative interview

    Speakers: Steve Chamraz of WTMJ-Milwaukee; Michael Berens of Thomson Reuters

    Learn proven strategies for managing the investigative interview, with tips on preparation, approaching difficult subjects and keeping the conversation on track.

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    11:30 am - 12:30 pm

  • Outside Event

    See printed schedule for room information

    12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

  • Panel

    Developing sources on the beat

    Speakers: Michael Berens of Thomson Reuters; Maria Perez of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

  • Panel

    Multiplatform storytelling

    Speakers: Greg Borowski of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Natasha Haverty of independent journalist

    Multimedia storytelling tips will cover text, visuals and interactives. Learn how best to tell your story online, in print, on the air and on mobile, with examples of storytelling techniques that work well on particular platforms.

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Panel

    Digital sleuthing on deadline

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Learn how to find reliable information on deadline and for enterprise stories using more effective search techniques, the latest search engines, data sites and other practical tools you can use immediately. We’ll also share a checklist your newsroom can customize to background all your sources, verifying their information and uncovering their online presence.

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    4:15 pm - 5:15 pm

  • Panel

    Wrap up: What IRE can do for you

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Learn about the many benefits of IRE membership.

    Johnston Hall - Room 107

    5:15 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional hands-on spreadsheet training

    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.

    Johnston Hall - Room 314

    9:00 am - 12:30 pm