Higher Education Watchdog Workshop • Feb. 13-14, 2015 • John Seigenthaler Center • Nashville, Tenn.

Space is limited. Register online here.

Join College Media Association and Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) for a workshop designed to improve your overall reporting skills and your ability to find and produce stories on your campus. Staff from The New York Times, The Columbus Dispatch, IRE and other orgs will lead sessions for students, advisers and professionals. They'll show you how to find information quickly and point you to key documents and data that will help you add depth to daily stories and produce quick-hit enterprise stories. All in under two days.

For only $79, you'll learn how to:

• Use the Internet as an investigative reporting tool

• Prepare for tough interviews and come away with the information you need

• Analyze your school's performance to see how it measures up

• Examine athletic programs — and their funding

• Use open records laws and other tools to pry information from foundations and other secretive campus institutions

The workshop includes a one-year IRE membership (normally $25 for students and $70 for professionals). If you are a current IRE member, your membership will be extended by one year. Attendees must meet IRE membership terms.

You can also sign up for additional hands-on training in data analysis, though space is limited. The full schedule is below.

The workshop location, The John Seigenthaler Center, is within walking distance or on the shuttle route for nearby Nashville hotels. You can find info on lodging here.


Friday, Feb. 13

9 a.m.-noon Add-On: Computer-Assisted Reporting Workshop: Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, election data and more. Also, learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis. Mark Horvit, Investigative Reporters & Editors

1:30 p.m. Welcome and Workshop Overview

1:45-3 p.m. Effective Use of the Internet: From better search techniques to the invisible Web, learn what all reporters and editors need to know. We’ll cover how to find documents and databases on deadline and where to find reliable websites for enterprise stories. Learn search skills and websites that will help you report about campus and beyond. Mark Horvit, Investigative Reporters & Editors

3:15–4:30 p.m. Investigating Campus Crime: Covering campus crime is a must, and the potential for strong stories is ripe. Learn how to dig into issues involving law enforcement on your campus, from examining the system to key documents. Jill Riepenhoff, Columbus Dispatch

4:45-5:45 p.m. The Art of the Interview: Learn the best ways to approach sources, prepare and handle the interview process. We’ll highlight tips and strategies for handing tough situations, ethical trouble spots and more. You’ll also get advice for conducting video interviews for your website. Phil Williams, Nashville's NewsChannel 5

5:45-6 p.m. Day One Wrap-Up

Saturday, Feb. 14

9-10:15 a.m. Using Open Records Laws: Documents can help you nail down a variety of stories on campus and throughout your community. Learn how to use federal and state laws, how to write an open-records request the right way and how to appeal and challenge denials. Deborah Fisher, Tennessee Coalition on Open Government

10:30-11:45 a.m. Key Documents and Methods for Investigating Campus Issues: Learn how to learn about your school: Key documents and data can be found on campus and with government agencies located elsewhere. Get advice, tips and strategies for using various resources to learn more about your school — and then teach your readers. Ron Nixon, The New York Times


Noon-1 p.m. Doing Watchdog Journalism With Limited Time: Most journalists aren’t handed big chunks of time to dig into stories, whether on campus or in professional newsrooms. Get some strategies to do enterprise work that doesn’t have to monopolize your time. Nancy Amons, Nashville's WSMV-TV


Noon-1 p.m. Investigating College Athletics: Campus teams often don’t get much scrutiny, but big stories can be done by treating athletics programs as a news beat. Get story ideas and examples of documents you can request to examine your school’s teams. Jill Riepenhoff, Columbus Dispatch


Noon-1 p.m. Investigating Private Colleges: The challenges can be different when you cover a private school. Learn how to use government documents like IRS 990 forms to get information when campus leaders don’t have to share documents. Ron Nixon, The New York Times and Mark Horvit, Investigative Reporters & Editors         

1 p.m – 1:15 p.m Wrap-Up: What IRE Can Do For You Mark Horvit, Investigative Reporters & Editors