Last Friday, we wrapped up the NECIR Investigative Journalism Certificate Program and parted ways with a group of journalists from around the globe — each newly certified in investigative reporting and equipped with new tools to report on the world around them.
The program covered an array of different investigative reporting techniques, including how to create data-driven stories, how to navigate the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the art of the interview.
Juliet Obata, a senior producer and anchor for Television Continental in Nigeria, came to the program because she “wanted something knew.”
“I wanted to explore,” Obata said. “I’ve been a producer, I’ve been an anchor, I wanted something different… investigative reporting is not just your regular kind of reporting. It has to be deep, factual, and with a lot of data and documents…when I saw [this program] I said, ‘Oh, this is where I should be.”
Many other students came for similar reasons – to build their reporting tool kits and to expand their journalistic potential. NECIR Senior Reporter and Trainer Brooke Williams’ sessions were a hit with students who enjoyed her challenging, empowering classes on data collection and analysis.
Julian Spector, a journalist from Washington D.C. beginning a fellowship with The Atlantic in July, said that one of the most “mind-blowing new skills” was the data-driven journalism field.
“Brooke Williams…taught us how to find data sets that are in the public interest and then use things like Excel to do some very simple analyses,” Spector said. “You can turn up incredible stories and findings that have been hidden in plain sight all this time.”
David Hale, a sportswriter for ESPN based in North Carolina and an Investigative Reporting Certificate Program participant, said it was one thing to have information in front of you, but another to know what to do with it.
“This program has been great in explaining both of those things,” he said.
In addition to Brooke Williams, Beth Daley and Jenifer McKim, both NECIR senior reporters and trainers, and Executive Director Joe Bergantino taught sessions on all aspects of investigative reporting. Digital Producer Joshua Eaton also joined the program to teach a session on security and Boston University professor Lou Ureneck taught a session on investigating U.S. business.
“It has been awesome to learn from people who really know their stuff,” said Trenae Nuri, who has worked with PhillyCam community access television and WHYY in Delaware. “I really would encourage women, and especially people of color to get involved in programs like this, trainings like this, because this is taking me outside of my comfort zone and expanding my portfolio.”
As these skilled journalists return to their respective communities here in the U.S. and internationally, we look forward to seeing how they use the skills obtained during the program in their individual reporting. Thanks to all who participated!