For journalists looking to add depth to their stories, Investigative Reporters and Editors has provided a great compilation of presentations and tipsheets from presenters at their June 2013 conference. We’ve pulled a few of our favorites, but the whole treasure trove of information is available here.
• A presentation by The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Coulter Jones and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times’ Jessica Savage guides journalists through finding and using data to strengthen stories “on any beat.”
• NPR’s Margot Williams offers a list of resources that can help journalists find public records, information about non-profits and charities, archives and data.
• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Kevin Crowe gives advice on looking into “chronic absenteeism” and school funding. He suggests looking to school attendance documents, IRS 990 forms and state education department budget documents, as well as talking with employees and students’ parents.
• James Neff, investigations editor for The Seattle Times, recommends that journalists look to archives and archivists for information “on any topic that touches government, business, or influential people.” Neff suggests using the National Archives’ Online Public Access tool, worldcat.org and archivegrid.org and provides tips on how to use them.
• For tips on obtaining public records, getting past stonewalling and dealing with federal agencies, see the tipsheet by Investigative Reporting Workshop’s Senior Editor Wendell Cochran, San Antonio Express-News’ John Tedesco, The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Gilbert, and Hayes & Boone, LLP Partner Tom Williams. They suggest developing a relationship with an agency before asking for records, becoming familiar with what types of records the agency should have and getting a specific legal exemption if records are denied.