Sigma Delta Chi Foundation gives $48,500 for national investigative journalism training program
INDIANAPOLIS – The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation agreed to commit $48,500 for the SPJ Investigative Journalism Institute, a program that mixes in-person training, distance learning and ongoing consulting to arm journalists in markets small and large to serve as community watchdogs and produce public-interest results.
The project was encouraged because of the large amount of newsrooms with reporters who lack the skills and training to perform basic data analysis, mine documents and engage in serious watchdog reporting. The problem has been exacerbated by economic cutbacks in recent years.
“The support of the SDX Foundation is crucial to making sure the difficult skills of uncovering hidden facts, negotiating the ever more tricky legal issues and producing compelling journalism are passed on to future generations,” said David Cay Johnston, president of IRE.
The goal of the program is to train journalists of all levels to step up the level of watchdog reporting by producing content that matters and makes a difference in civic life. Hands-on data training makes this program particularly valuable to investigative reporters.
"The primary purpose of the multi-phase training program is to bring to fruition investigative projects that look into systemic issues confronting society that would otherwise go unreported," said Bill Ketter, chairman of the advisory board for NECIR. "That's been the driving philosophy behind NECIR since its inception five years ago and thus we're excited that the center will now contribute to an expansion of accountability journalism through SPJ."
The SPJ Investigative Journalism Institute will include three two-day regional workshops in 2014. Participants will gain a solid background in computer-assisted reporting skills and the ability to both do some data analysis and to understand how it can be incorporated into beats and coverage.
But the training won’t stop after the workshops — IRE and NECIR will also offer consulting options as a follow-up. In addition, there will be Google hangouts after the training program where participants can ask questions and learn new tools in a less formal setting. For those who can’t attend the workshops, there will be two training webinars.
“So many workshops are weekend affairs,” said Robert Leger, president of the SDX Foundation. “The genius of this approach is it provides support after the participants go back to their news organizations, helping to ensure that they’re able to take what they learned and develop stories that inform their readers and viewers. It’s the best of hands-on and distance learning.”
Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public foundation that is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism. For more information about the SDX Foundation, please visit www.spj.org/sdx.asp.
IRE is a non-profit 501c3 educational and professional organization of more than 4,000 members internationally, working to foster excellence in journalism. Founded in 1975, IRE provides extensive training and resources through seminars, publications and its website: www.ire.org.
NECIR is a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom and training center based at Boston University. Launched in 2009, the center’s mission is to boost the quality and quantity of investigative journalism in New England and across the nation by producing high-quality, high-impact investigative reports and by training a new generation of investigative reporters. For more information about NECIR, please visit necir.org.