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IRE21 Expected Sessions

IRE21 Expected Sessions

The 2021 IRE Conference will feature a mix of panels, demos, networking, on-demand data training, and more. Full session details, including speakers and descriptions, will be released in the coming weeks. 

Here is a list of sessions topics you can expect to see at IRE21:

Equity in newsrooms and news coverage

  • Investigating your organization's racist past
  • Investigating educational inequities for children of color 
  • Investigating equity during the pandemic through solutions journalism 
  • Everyone’s right to know: Public records for justice
  • Storytelling, plain language and live events: How to make journalism with, for and about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Redefining investigative journalism in our image
  • It's not just Tuskegee: Investigating stories on race and health
  • Using the Real Housewives franchise as a device to explore interviewing and bias
  • Journalism beyond objectivity
  • How white journalists can make newsrooms be more inclusive 
  • Recognizing your implicit biases
  • How straight journalists can support LGBTQ coverage and colleagues 


Digging deeper on your beat

  • Resources to accurately report on the border
  • Watchdog story ideas on the local government beat
  • How to use the Census in your reporting
  • Investigating unemployment
  • Reporting on agriculture and agribusinesses
  • Tips for mining your beat for the bigger stories
  • Investigating energy and weather emergencies
  • Move past both sides: Using data to cover voting access
  • Under-the-radar police accountability: Unlikely investigations with big results
  • Investigative journalism using community engagement
  • Story ideas for covering housing
  • Workplace safety and the regulators
  • Investigating nursing homes



  • How to produce solid investigations with a small team
  • Leading in times of trouble: Management lessons we can learn from the past year 
  • How investigative reporting educators build public reporting project pipelines with newsrooms and non-profits



  • Holding the powerful accountable
  • Visualizing your investigation
  • 10 most important lessons I’ve learned
  • Feeding the beast during a pandemic
  • Bringing data to life
  • Several more panels and conversations
  • Several networking opportunities for broadcasters from various markets


Public records

  • Overcoming challenges and appealing
  • Data and documents for your arsenal
  • Getting information from government in the time of COVID — and beyond
  • How to FOIA the U.S. Military
  • Universities, higher ed and the great open records dodge
  • Several media lawyer Q&A sessions



  • Year in investigations: International
  • Remote sensing and environmental reporting during COVID
  • Deep Dive: Open Lux investigation
  • Understanding international dark money flows 



  • Social media search/verification
  • Backgrounding like a boss
  • Latest tools demo
  • College Scorecard demo
  • Scraping with Google Sheets
  • Uncovering data with the Web Inspector
  • ICIJ's Datashare and Tarentula


Networking for:

  • Journalists with disabilities 
  • Early-career journalists
  • Mid-career journalists
  • Veteran journalists
  • Educators
  • Public radio
  • International journalists
  • Student journalists
  • Nonprofit newsrooms
  • Journalists of color
  • Freelance journalists
  • New IRE members
  • Journalists of the LGBTQIA+ communities
  • Managers
  • Several networking opportunities for journalists working in TV


Sessions will also include topics on:

  • Following CARES money
  • Year in investigations: Local showcase
  • Outlining and structure: The writer's missing manual
  • The "no surprises" letter
  • Assume nothing: Fact-checking your own investigation
  • The unique elements of the investigative podcast
  • What do you do when your investigation implodes after months of work and resources? 
  • Negative assumptions associated with investigative journalism
  • Video forensic reporting 
  • Redistricting
  • How to find and interpret crime statistics
  • Covering domestic extremism 
  • How to accurately report on and understand federal gun laws
  • Everything you need to know about how corporate PACs help companies play politics
  • How to borrow political campaign tactics to find story sources
  • Investigative reporting in local news deserts
  • Using archives for your investigation
  • Pitching an investigative freelance story
  • Collaborating across campuses
  • Conversation on mental health
  • Digital security
  • Security and safety: When threats against journalists are at an all-time high


Virtual data labs:

In our seven virtual data labs, attendees can learn valuable data journalism skills, tips and tricks at their own pace. More than 80 videos will offer training in:

  • Spreadsheets
  • SQL
  • Python
  • R
  • Data visualization
  • Web scraping
  • Data wrangling

Each lab will include instructions to set up your computer at home, data files to follow along, and other resources. No previous data experience is required to start with the beginner sessions.

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