Scaccia shares #IRE14 experience

BSEOHPXGIndependent journalist Annamarya Scaccia was among six Philadelphia-area journalists who attended the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2014 Conference with support form the Center for Public Interest Journalism.

So far in 2014, the Center for Public Interest Journalism has selected 31 Philadelphia-area journalists for support to attend national journalism conferences, thanks to a generous grant from the Wyncote Foundation.

Ryan Briggs of the Philadelphia City PaperMarion Callahan of the The IntelligencerMaryclaire Dale of The Associated PressRandy LoBasso of Philadelphia Weeklyindependent journalist  and freelancer Cassie Owens joined Scaccia at #IRE14.

Scaccia chronicled here experience on Twitter and has now organized a report on Storify: Uncovering the story: My thoughts on #IRE14

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Update: IRE boot camp at Temple now booked to capacity

Once again this year, Investigative Reporters and Editors will be offering their esteemed four-day, hands-on, computer-assisted reporting boot camp at Temple University — from August 18th through 21st.

Update: This workshop is now booked to capacity.

Last year, participants were introduced to analyzing data for stories with spreadsheets and database managers, and learned ways to find data, craft open records requests and negotiate for electronic information.

Experienced IRE trainers showed attendees how to summarize data using Microsoft Excel and query information using Structured Query Language in Microsoft Access.

Support from the Center Public Interest Journalism is enabling bargain rates for this workshop, which ordinarily costs $800 and requires a trip to Missouri. Registration for this boot camp costs $200 for current IRE members, $270 for non-IRE members and $225 for non-member students.

About IRE: Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.

IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country. Programs of IRE include the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting, DocumentCloud and the Campus Coverage Project. Learn more about joining IRE and the benefits of membership.

Last year’s boot camp included participants from the Center for Public Integrity, CNNMoney, Fort Worth Weekly, Metrowest Daily News, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, Temple University, The Buffalo News, The Victoria Advocate,, WCAU-Philadelphia and the Wilmington News Journal. CPIJ photographs by Jim MacMillan.

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Farr finds renewed fervor at Logan Symposium

The Center for Public Interest Journalism sponsored five Philadelphia-area journalists who attended the 2014 Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium convened at U.C. Berkeley. Stephanie Farr of the of the Philadelphia Daily News shares her experience:

A reporter who shields his face at all times when not working, even to his own peers. A journalist who fears for her life so much she’s hired bodyguards. And freelancers living in foreign countries who don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

I believed I was passionate about my profession until I attended the Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium in Berkeley, Calif., and was promptly put in my place by reporters who lay their lives on the line to tell stories they believe nobody else would otherwise tell.

If, as “Frontline” executive producer David Fanning told us, “Journalism is an extraordinary adventure,” these were the tour guides.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an undercover investigative journalist in Ghana, appeared at his panel wearing a hat and a black cloth covering his face. He’s risked his life to expose human trafficking, troubled orphanages and the slaughter of albinos throughout the African continent.
“I have three goals of journalism: Naming, shaming and jailing,” he said.

Mexican reporter Anabel Hernandez, who was inspired to pursue investigative journalism after her father was murdered and the local authorities refused to investigate his case without a bribe, said she thought journalism was “about ensuring we progress as a society.” But progress is slow in her country, where 74 journalists have been killed since 1994, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hernandez, a mother of two, employs bodyguards at all times just to be able to do her job and live her life. I wondered why she would put herself and her family in such danger until it became clear – through her passion, her words and her presence – that she had no choice. She does this for her dead father, she does this for her children’s future and she does this so she can sleep at night.

“I have seen good journalists change the story,” she said. “Maybe one day, my little job can make a difference.”

The other reporters who inspired me with their unbridled passion were a panel of freelance journalists which included Erin McIntyre, who has stationed herself in Tijuana, Mexico, and Annie Murphy, who is also based in South America.

They spoke of not having the village of a newsroom to back them, or even a lawyer. Murphy described freelancing as “being in a bad relationship,” where your partner doesn’t treat you well and you’re always waiting for them to call – but it’s a bad relationship you’re in charge of and you get to pick the topics for which you fight.

Although I would have liked to have walked away from the symposium with more tangible tools to help me identify and tell the stories worth writing here in Philadelphia, perhaps what I did walk away with was equally as important: A renewed fervor to be passionate about my charge as a journalist to expose wrongs, to tell the stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told and to risk whatever it takes to do the right thing.

Investigative Reporting Program

Video: Sessions from “Under Attack: Reporters and Their Sources,” at the 8th Annual Reva & David Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium, held April 25–27, 2014 at U.C. Berkeley.

The 2014 CPIJ conference sponsorship program is no longer accepting applications. However, you can still apply for topical conference support.

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Update from the Center for Public Interest Journalism

Contact: Michael Greenle,, 202-997-1827

The Center for Public Interest Journalism, a project of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University, is launching one program and ending another.

The Center was begun in 2009, with major support from the William Penn Foundation, to support journalists and journalism in the Philadelphia region. Since then, CPIJ has organized a variety of programs and projects that have trained journalists and students, encouraged innovation and collaboration, and provided outlets for citizens – particularly those in undercovered communities – to interact with journalists.

One major endeavor of the Center was the creation in 2012 of AxisPhilly, a nonprofit, public-service news website focused on local civic issues. The site, which has featured investigative reporting, data analysis and commentary, was awarded the Online News Association’s Award for General Excellence for a small news site in 2013.

While the quality of the work on the site was lauded nationally, it did not achieve consistent local impact and fell short of serving as a collaborative hub for the emerging news ecosystem, both of which were goals at founding. At this time, the Director of CPIJ, Temple Department of Journalism Chair Andrew Mendelson, and the new Dean of Temple’s School of Media and Communication, David Boardman, have decided to focus the Center on other pursuits.

One new endeavor will be for CPIJ to serve as an incubator for new local-news initiatives. The first of those will be a strategic partnership with a Philadelphia-focused startup in development by former Digital First Media executive Jim Brady. Brady, who will also teach a course in entrepreneurial journalism in the school, intends to create a news service that will seek to cultivate audiences currently disengaged from traditional news products.

“AxisPhilly has been a worthy experiment and its staff has produced some remarkable work,” Boardman said. “But we and our funders are looking for new ways to have a positive impact on the local-news ecosystem in the region and to promote meaningful public-interest journalism. We’re excited about our incubation initiative, and in particular to create the opportunity for a visionary such as Jim Brady to work with our students and faculty.”

Brady recently left Digital First Media, which publishes more than 800 print and online products across the country. Previously, he was general manager of TBD, a local-news startup in the Washington, D.C., region, and before that was executive editor of
Boardman said CPIJ will continue its many current programs and will develop new ones. The Center will take over ​from AxisPhilly the administration of OpenDataPhilly, a portal that enables citizens and journalists to easily access data of civic importance.

Among its current programs, the Center:
• Organizes training in modern, technology-driven reporting techniques and sustainability issues, for professionals and students.
• Convenes conversations between the press and various communities, particularly those underserved by media.
• Sponsors local journalists to attend national training conferences.

“We’re excited about raising the profile of CPIJ going forward,” said Center Director Mendelson. “We look forward to continuing to support area journalists and strengthening journalism in a region that clearly needs it.”

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CPIJ supports “Tapped Out” collaborative special report on poverty from the Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Daily News editorial page editor Sandra Shea led and organized “Tapped Out,” a special report on poverty in Philadelphia, which, according to Shea: “represents a rare collaboration among media and universities,” featuring “the voices of people we rarely hear from: those who live with scarcity.”

Together with the Daily News, the Center for Public Journalism helped organize preliminary meetings and supported, designed and analyzed a citywide survey from the Insight and Survey Center, a survey-research unit associated with the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Nearly 350 randomly selected people from across the city were phoned.

The results of this survey demonstrate that an economically, racially and educationally diverse cross-section of Philadelphians see poverty as one of the most important issues that the city must address to move forward, according to CPIJ Director Andrew Mendelson. More than 70 percent of respondents rated the related issues of crime, poverty and the public schools as “very important” for Philadelphia.

PART ONE: An intimate look at hardship in Philly

PART TWO: How Philly became poorest big city in U.S.

PART THREE: Solution to poverty must come from within

PART FOUR: In Philly, strong opinions on poverty


More info:

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The Center for Public Interest Journalism is operated by the Temple University School of Media and Communication with support from the William Penn Foundation and the Temple University Journalism Department.

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