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Teaching the trainer

By Doug Haddix, IRE training director

Every trainer will tell you that one of the joys of the job is learning from people you’re training. During recent custom training for The Associated Press in San Francisco, the group was talking about ways to avoid high copying fees for paper documents. After I suggested using a portable scanner, camera or cell-phone camera, AP staffer Marcus Wohlsen shared a tip.

Turns out a relatively new app for the iPhone can help. It’s called JotNot ($4.99 from the iTunes store). A similar product, DocScanner ($5.99 from the iTunes store), works on the iPhone and Android platforms. Both applications strive to improve the quality of the photo image of a document so it’s more legible once it’s converted to a PDF and stored electronically. In addition to a presentation on public records and FOIA, the IRE custom training in San Francisco featured an overview of data and documents, hands-on training in spreadsheet and database software, and one-on-one story consultations. AP gathered a dozen staffers from Atlanta, Fresno, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco for the two days of training.

Tracie Cone of the AP bureau in Fresno found the spreadsheet training particularly useful. “For years I’ve seen community college night class offerings on Excel training, and I’d think, ‘Who needs to take a class to punch numbers into a spreadsheet?’ So, obviously I had no idea what Excel even was about. So to go from that to actually WANTING to think of stories that could include numbers crunching is a huge leap.”

If your newsroom or university is interested in bringing custom IRE training to your staff, please contact me at or 614-205-5420.

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