POSTPONED: 2020 Pittsburgh, PA Watchdog Workshop

 **Given the ongoing concerns about the spread of coronavirus, IRE has decided to postpone the watchdog workshop scheduled for March 21 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Workshop registration fees will be refunded in the next few days. IRE memberships associated with workshop registrations have been activated. Workshops include a free one-year IRE membership for those new to our organization and a one-year extension for current members. Please be sure to take advantage of exclusive member benefits.

Hosted by: Center for Media Innovation at Point Park 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. Join IRE's experienced trainers and a group of veteran reporters for our Watchdog Workshop Saturday, March 21.

Expected speakers include AmyJo Brown, Pittsburgh Media Partnership; Kellie Burkett, WPXI-Pittsburgh; Paula Knudsen, LNP Media Group; Rich Lord, PublicSource; Denise Malan, IRE & NICAR; Julian Sher, investigative journalist; Halle Stockton, PublicSource and more.

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 22, 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 at Point Park University, Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200). Sunday's optional session will take place at Point Park University, Academic Hall 406. 

Please enter Academic Hall at 201 Wood Street, located at the corner of Wood and 3rd Avenue.  The building's entrance is located on the 3rd Avenue side of the building.  You may access the 2nd floor, using the stairs or elevator and cross the skywalk to enter Lawrence Hall. 

Parking is available in nearby parking garages for $6.00 on the weekends and street parking is free on Sundays. Please reference a campus map here.

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 hands-on spreadsheet training


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.

All cancellations must be sent via email to There is a $25 processing fee for professionals ($10 for students) for cancellations until the Wednesday prior to the event. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after this day. Cancellations void the membership included with the workshop registration.

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. 21, 2020 - Sunday, Mar. 22, 2020

Point Park University
201 Wood Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222

Schedule details

  • Panel


    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Rundown of what you'll learn today and key logistics about the meeting space.

    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    9:00 am - 9:15 am

  • Panel

    How to be a watchdog for your community

    Speakers: Halle Stockton of PublicSource; Kellie Burkett of WPXI-Pittsburgh

    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.

    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    9:15 am - 10:15 am

  • Panel

    Mastering the investigative interview

    Speaker: Julian Sher of Investigative Journalist

    In this session, learn how to think strategically and tactically about interviews to avoid basic mistakes. Rethink the way you approach interviews, master the basic rules of tough interviews -- and learn how to break them when needed.

    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    10:30 am - 12:00 pm

  • Outside Event

    See printed schedule for room information

    12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

  • Panel

    Digging into public records

    Speakers: Rich Lord of PublicSource; Paula Knudsen of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; AmyJo Brown of Pittsburgh Media Partnership

    Learn how to use federal and state open records laws to draft records requests the right way. We'll discuss ways to challenge denials and keep a steady flow of information coming into the newsroom with FOI.

    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

  • Panel


    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Panel

    Social media sleuthing

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

    Learn advanced tricks and tips for mining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites during breaking news and for enterprise stories. Learn how to do geographic searches to find sources, visuals and other material near a specific address or in a particular city. Discover ways to automate tasks to save time and run searches by location, hash tags and more.

    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

  • Panel

    Wrap-up & what IRE can do for you

    Speaker: Denise Malan of IRE and NICAR

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

    Lawrence Hall 200 (LH200)

    5:00 pm - 5:15 pm

  • Hands-on

    Optional hands-on spreadsheet training (Pittsburgh)

    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.

    Academic Hall 406

    9:00 am - 12:30 pm