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NICAR21 Lightning Talks

From nearly 40 choices, NICAR attendees have chosen a lineup of Lightning Talks to be given at the virtual 2021 NICAR Conference in March

Lightning Talks are quick and quirky 5-minute presentations on particular skills, tools or techniques. Pitches are submitted and voted on by #NICAR21 attendees. They have become a staple of NICAR conferences and a much-anticipated session each year

This year's lineup

  • Crowdsourcing for climate by Kathrene Garcia, Environmental Investigation Agency 
  • Save your work: How to archive online journalism by Nick Hagar, Northwestern University
  • Small-town data blues by Lisa Waananen Jones, Washington State University
  • 51 agencies, 26 reporters, two news organizations and thousands of emails: How we built a massive system to track COVID in prisons by Katie Park and Tom Meagher, The Marshall Project
  • Using open source investigation to track police brutality and alt-right activity by Jordan Gass Poore, Independent journalist
  • Causal inference for dummies by Kathy Qian, Code for Democracy
  • Circumventing secrecy by Emilia Ruzicka, Brown University
  • 7 tips to pushback against the denial of your public records request by Gunita Singh, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • The art of negotiation: How to get what you want by Todd Wallack, Boston Globe
  • Git scraping by Simon Willison, Datasette
  • Body commodification: What diversity stats get wrong and how we can do better by Ting Zhang, Brown Institute, Columbia Journalism School 

Thanks to everyone who submitted a Lighting Talk idea! We’ll see you soon at #NICAR21.


What are Lightning Talks? Lightning Talks are 5-minute presentations on particular skills, tools or techniques. Pitches are submitted and voted on by NICAR21 attendees.

When are they? Thursday, March 4, at 4:15 p.m. during the virtual conference

Who can submit pitches? Anyone who plans to attend the NICAR21 virtual conference can submit pitches by Jan. 27. You must be a current IRE member to attend the conference.

How does voting work? Each attendee can vote for as many talks as you'd like, but please only submit your vote once (if you do, we’ll keep only your first submission). The 10 talks with the most votes will be a part of the Lightning Talks session at NICAR21. The official schedule will be posted on this page a couple of days after voting closes on Feb. 7.

Why can’t I see who pitched a talk? A couple years ago, we decided to make the pitching and voting process anonymous. In years past, the person’s name would be displayed alongside the pitch. Our hope was to use anonymity to encourage a more diverse group of people to submit pitches and bring more focus to the content of the talk in the voting process.

What will Lightning Talks look like in the virtual conference? All talks will be prerecorded to minimize scheduling and technical issues. After voting closes, everyone whose talk is chosen will receive specific instructions on how to record their talk. The talks will be shown at 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.) on Thursday, March 4, as part of NICAR21.

If you have any questions about Lightning Talks, email

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