Tipsheets

Browse more 5,000 tipsheets from our national conferences and Watchdog Workshops on how to cover specific beats, conduct a great interview and learn countless tips on where to find the information you need.

Logged-in members can download any tipsheet, for free. Contact the Resource Center 573-882-3364 or [email protected] for questions.

Search results for "candidates" ...

  • Unearthing secrets: How to scrub any candidate or public official

    Whether you are vetting a president, Supreme Court justice, or mayor, we'll give you all the tools you need to unearth the secrets of public officials and candidates. Using public records and master source-building, this presentation explains how to expose conflicts of interests, untangle financial connections, and reveal problematic relationships.

    Tags: backgrounding; researching; public records; bulletproofing; conflict of interest

    By Steve Eder, Lindsay Wise, Lulu Ramadan and Rosalind Helderman

    2019

  • What is that politician hiding? And other backgrounding tips

    Election season is upon us. We’ll discuss the best tips, websites and tools for scrubbing candidates at all levels of government, from the Trump administration to City Hall to the courthouse. We’ll show you how to investigate through politicians' business ties, past work experience, public records and even family to find potential conflicts of interest while writing the investigative profile — plus other stories that help inform readers. You'll learn backgrounding techniques that can be used for stories about politicos in the never-ending election season or for profiles about everyday individuals in your community.

    Tags: backgrounding; politicians; public records; candidates; government; elections

    By Steve Eder and James Grimaldi

    2018

  • Politics: Prepping for the midterms

    Sandra Fish and Nancy Watzman explained how to cover the midterms, such as backgrounding candidates, knowing election laws, following money and donations and tracking media and misinformation.

    Tags: Elections; politics; midterms; political reporting; election laws; follow the money; campaign finance; lobbying; misinformation

    By Sandra Fish and Nancy Watzman

    2018

  • Campaign Finance: News Tips

    Denise Roth Barber, managing director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, fills this tipsheet with links on how to find state and national campaign finance data, follow money trails and develop stories that go beyond the numbers. This record also includes the PowerPoint presentation for this panel.

    Tags: campaign finance; candidates; backgrounding; follow the money

    By Denise Roth Barber

    2018

  • Finding People with Data

    Inevitably, no matter the story, an editor will ask: Who is your signature victim? Memorable stories often have that one perfect profile, that one perfect case that reflects every thematic finding. There are many ways to find victims, from sources and advocates to police records and court cases. But these methods often rely on chance or a dose of luck. Data can be used as a compass to find story candidates – both people and cases. These basic strategies work with databases acquired or created. Examine two real-world pursuits.

    Tags: sources; people; sourcing; case; victims

    By Michael J. Berens

    2018

  • New tools for political accountability reporting

    From engaging the public with background checks on public officials to programmatically identifying model bills in state legislatures, this session will focus on new tools you can use to bring greater accountability to the political process. The Background Machine is an open-source tool that uses crowd-funding and tips to organize and pay for deep checks on political candidates. The Legislative Influence Detector is a powerful tool using an algorithm to identify similar or identical phrases in legislation, comparing bills introduced throughout the United States. And what’s best, we’re giving away what we’ve developed. With just a list of candidates, you can start using The Background Machine in your newsroom for this election, and by changing just a few lines of AZCIR’s LID python code, you can start finding model legislation introduced in your state.

    Tags: political reporting; backgrounding; checks; public officials

    By Brandon Quester

    2016

  • Backgrounding candidates

    Don't let secrecy hinder your investigations this election season. Keep this tipsheet hand for dozens of links to get records on everything from privately funded congressional trips to SEC disclosures.

    Tags: campaign finance; earmarks; lawsuits; public records; contracts; lobbyists

    By James Grimaldi

    2016

  • Follow the Message

    Tips and tricks on following the money and messages in state and local elections, from the school board to the statehouse. How to track the players beyond candidates to special interests, super PACs and nonprofits.

    Tags: money; state government; local government; elections; candidates

    By Sandra Fish

    2016

  • Lessons from Jefferson County

    Tips and tricks on following the money and messages in state and local elections, from the school board to the statehouse. How to track the players beyond candidates to special interests, super PACs and nonprofits.

    Tags: money; state government; local government; elections; candidates

    By Nic Garcia

    2016

  • Reverse-engineering campaign finance stories

    From these slides, you can learn how to find some story ideas from campaign finance data, including using FECh to analyze candidates' electronic filings. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1sZ6ZK8SuvlGrORK3JNHpvyy1meLXsOniIJvmhjqvsPk/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g10d3f1196a_1_10

    Tags: campaign finance; data; politics; election

    By Aaron Bycoffe; Derek Willis; Carrie Levine

    2016