2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

IRE Watchdog Workshop

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ATTENTION: You must signup in advance to attend this workshop. You will need to have a valid SXSW badge, and an activated SXsocial account. To reserve your seat, please go here: https://sup.sxsw.com/schedule/IAP26748

A crucial duty of a journalist is to serve the public interest by acting as a watchdog. Improve your watchdog coverage and learn how you can hold government and business accountable with this half-day workshop from Investigative Reporters and Editors. Veteran journalists will offer inspiration and give you tangible tips and tools you can put to work immediately in the following sessions:

9:30 – 11:30 a.m. - Welcome/Using the Web and Social Media as Investigative Tools

What reporters and editors need to know. From better search techniques to the invisible Web, how to find documents and databases on deadline and where to find reliable websites for enterprise stories. The craft of better searching and not wasting time. Handling issues of credibility and ethics online.
**Mark Horvit, IRE

11:30 - 11:40 a.m. Break

11:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. - Investigating the Powerful

Veteran NPR correspondent John Burnett talks about investigative reporting—the good, the bad and the ugly. He’s worked on a range of award-winning projects: Mexican government collusion with the Sinaloa drug cartel, abuse by law enforcement authorities of civil forfeiture laws, and examining the empire built by a televangelist. Learn about the tools included in an investigative reporter’s arsenal: court documents, federal government records, county records, congressional hearings, Internet searches, and finding talkative sources.
**John Burnett, NPR

12:30 - 12:40 p.m. Break

12:40 – 1:30 p.m. - Finding Errors in Judgment

Between 1989 ad 2011, courts overturned the convictions of at least 86 Texas defendants. The Texas Tribune analyzed the rulings in each of those cases and found that in nearly 25 percent of them prosecutors made mistakes that contributed to the wrong outcome. In this session, we'll tell you how we gathered the data, analyzed all the cases, put together a database of wrongful convictions and told the compelling stories of the wrongfully convicted in Texas.
**Brandi Grissom, The Texas Tribune

- None.

What to Bring:
- Nothing in particular.



Brandi Grissom

Managing Editor

The Texas Tribune

Brandi Grissom is The Texas Tribune's managing editor and joined the staff when the online publication launched in 2009. In addition to editing duties, Grissom leads the Tribune's coverage of criminal justice issues. During her tenure at the Tribune, she was chosen as a 2012 City University of New York Center on Media, Crime and Justice/H.F. Guggenheim Journalism Fellow and was a fellow at the 2012 Journalist Law School at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Grissom, along with Tribune multimedia producer Justin Dehn, received a 2012 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for work on the case of Megan Winfrey, who was acquitted of murder in February 2013 after the Trib’s coverage brought statewide attention the case. Grissom joined the Tribune after four years at the El Paso Times, where she acted as a one-woman Capitol bureau. Grissom won the Associated Press Managing Editors First-Place Award in 2007 for using the Freedom of Information Act to report stories on a variety of government programs and entities, and the ACLU of Texas named her legislative reporter of the year in 2007 for her immigration reporting. She previously served as managing editor at The Daily Texan and has worked for the Alliance Times-Herald, the Taylor Daily Press, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and The Associated Press. A native of Alliance, Neb., she has a degree in history from the University of Texas.


John Burnett



John Burnett has been a roving correspondent for NPR based in Austin since 1986. He has reported from 30 foreign countries, won several investigative reporting awards, and most recently was assigned to cover immigration. He is the author of Uncivilized Beasts & Shameless Hellions: Travels With an NPR Correspondent, published in 2006.


Lise Olsen

Investigative Reporter

Houston Chronicle

Lise Olsen, senior investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle and former board member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, has been digging up dirt and data in Texas, Mexico and other places for 25+ years. A two-time Texas reporter of the year, her recent investigations span topics from money laundering, to human trafficking to political tricks, to perils in the oil patch. The former director of IRE's Mexico project, she has spoken about #datajournalism in more than a dozen countries.

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