Data visualization. Public record searches. Intense, flight-defeating heat. This year’s annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference (in Phoenix) has it all — and education journalism and education journalists are a part of it.


For starters, the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones is speaking on Saturday. If you haven’t seen her talk recently, this might be worth the trip on its own.

There are several education-related speakers and panels scheduled:

Watchdogging K-12 education. Featuring Tawnell Hobbs, Eva Parks, Francisco Vara-Orta.

Investigating special education. Featuring David DesRoches, Brian Rosenthal, Heather Vogell

Investigating disability issues. Featuring Michael Berens, Jennifer LaFleur, Brian Rosenthal, Kristin Gilger.

Investigating inequality in higher education. Featuring Dan Bauman, Richard Read, Laura Krantz.

Battling FERPA and cracking campus secrecy. Featuring Frank LoMonte, Michael Vasquez, Paula Lavigne.

Just as important and useful can be panels that aren’t specifically about education journalism — especially Thursday and Saturday:


Investigating inequality (featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones)

Digging into nonprofits (see also: Watchdogging nonprofits with Charity Navigator)

Storytelling that hums (see also: Innovative approaches to storytelling)

Sourcing people of color (see also recent Tara Garcia Mathewson column about this)

How to report on a scientific study.

Year in investigations (see also: Year in CAR)


Your investigation is done – make it go viral!

Digital options with limited resources

Tricks to getting around tough PIOs

The art of investigative storytelling

How to collaborate and not hate each other


Watchdogging state capitals

Hiring to reflect the community you cover (see recent Amadeus Harte column about newsroom diversity)

Investigating privatization of public services (featuring Detroit Free Press’s Jennifer Dixon)

Smart strategies for small newsrooms (Moderated by Rose Ciotta of EdSource)

Animated videos for storytelling

Finding the “perfect” example for your investigation


Optimizing a news organization for trust

It wouldn’t be a journalism conference without lots of awards being given out. Last year, the Tampa Bay Times’ team won big for their Failure Factories series. (Much more controversial was when the LA Times won for publishing teachers’ value-added scores in 2010.)

What else? I’m sure there are other panels and events that would be useful for education journalists. Let us know what’s missing. In previous years, education journalists have talked about getting together, though I’m not sure it’s happened.