The Summer School comprises of three different types of sessions: keynote speakers, talks and lectures, and workshops in data journalism, also known as Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR).
Each Summer School focuses on a different theme relating to investigative journalism and issues of public interest reporting and features a range of talks and sessions relating to the year’s theme, alongside practical lectures and workshops where participants can learn the key skills, such as working with contacts, understanding documents, councils and courts reporting, etc.
The data journalism/CAR workshops take place in computer labs. They are practical, hands-on classes designed to teach participants the essential software and data analysis techniques used by journalists in the newsroom. The CAR strand brings together experts from around the world to teach the essentials of data analysis, discuss the latest developments and stories in CAR and impart advice to those looking to jump start their own data desk.
The keynote speeches take place daily at lunchtime in the auditorium. They are open to members of the public (£5).
Refreshments are served daily throughout the course, with a drinks/networking party held on the Saturday.
Summer School 2013 Programme
Mark Williams-Thomas broke the story about the allegations of child abuse by Jimmy Savile in his documentary for ITV Exposure: the Other Side of Jimmy Savile. The programme won a prestigious Royal Television Society Award in 2012 for the best Home News coverage.
Miles Goslett - is a free-lance journalist who tried to publish a story about investigations into Jimmy Savile by Newsnight and was turned down by seven national newspapers.
Friday 12 July at 6.15pm
Saturday 13 July at 2pm
An American Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and a regular contributer to The New Yorker magazine specialising on the military and security measures. He will be talking on how to turn an ordinary news story into a proper investigations, taking it to a different level.
Over more than a decade, Grillo has covered the surreal and ultra violent world of Mexican cartels, putting together the skills required to get close to the gangsters and came to understand a complicated phenomenon sometimes through personal stories rather than a breaking fact. He will be discussing how he tried and failed with many techniques and needed to think outside the box to finally find a ways in to interview serial assassins and traffickers, and the personal risk involved. Grillo will cover the kind of new crime wars in Latin America, working around cartel death squads that are killing tens of thousands with RPG's and Kalashnikovs but don't have an ideological agenda. It's a powerful and different form of investigative reporting.
Friday 12 July
Understanding Company Accounts: How to Get the Most of Companies House
Martin Tomkinson and Robert Miller
(This class loosely forms the beginning of the Understanding Companies Accounts strand, but can be taken on its own).
Any UK-based investigative journalist or aspiring journalist should have a working knowledge of Companies House. Companies House is the central registry for all UK registered limited or plc companies and contains a wealth of useful information - if you know how to use the site. The aim of this class is to show people how to get the best out of the official website, as well as pointing out what can't be found here. The class will give ample time for questions and queries and is an absolute must for anybody who does not feel confident in using this vital tool for investigators.
Class handout: Understanding Company Accounts
Understanding Company Accounts: Forensic Accounting Parts 1-3
This three-part strand with one of Britain’s top forensic accountants Raj Bairoliya from FTI Consulting is for anyone who needs to understand company accounts to get beyond the corporate PR spin. It will explain how to understand the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements plus those all important accountancy procedures and notes.
It is important to attend all three classes, as you will not be able to just join at any point.
Understanding Company Accounts: an Interactive Demonstration
An addition to the strand above, this interactive demonstration of how the numbers in a profit and loss account and balance sheet are built up through out the year and how they are interlinked. We start with an empty company and see the effect of different types of transactions - such as share capital, sales, purchases, fixed asset, depreciation etc.
How to Request Documents Under the Freedom of Information Act
Brendan Montague and Lucas Amin, authors of the Guide to the Freedom of Information Act: FOIA Withour the Layer. The seminar will introduce the 'grazing' and 'mining' approach to making requests including how to establish a legal case to challenge refusals. The session will provide the skillsbase to interrogate the legislation, use case law and Information Commissioner guidance to make robust requests including unpicking some of the more common exemptions. Request Initiative was established in September 2011 as a non-profit specialising in making FOIA requests for NGOs, charities and non-profits and has quickly established itself as a hub in the FOIA community. The guide is based on advice from information lawyers, practitioners, journalists and campaigners.
Interviewing Techniques - Part 1
Melanie McFadyean, Robert Miller and Martin Tomkinson
In this class you will learn the tricks and tips of how to conduct serious interviews for print and broadcast. Martin Tompkinson, Robert Miller and Melanie McFadyean have interviewed hundreds of people in their careers and will pass on to you the core skills they have developed. We will focus on serious interviews both planned and off the cuff, in print, on air and online.
Interviewing Techniques - Part 2 - Role play
Robert Miller and Martin Tomkinson
In Part Two of our interviewing strand, Martin Tomkinson and Robert Miller will enact a number of different roles to illustrate the necessary skills and pitfalls to avoid in this vital part of a journalist's craft.
A Web-Documentary Primer
What are web documentaries? This intro class is a highly visual journey into the emerging genre of web-documentaries (non-fiction storytelling created for and often with the web), showcasing the world’s best-in-class digital docs. With clips and handouts, we’ll highlight emerging trends in the creative application of digital technology to documentary, with a special focus on investigative journalism.
The Politics of the Internet
Abusive computing and networks, and how we fight them.
The Secret History of Torture
The Guardian's senior reporter will talk about his recent book: Cruel Britannia: the Secret History of Torture and how from WWII to the War on Terror, via Kenya and Northern Ireland, the British have repeatedly and systematically resorted to torture, turning a blind eye where necessary, bending the law where they can, and issuing categorical denials all the while. What emerges is a picture of Britain that challenges our complacency on human rights and exposes the lie behind our reputation for fair play.
Saturday 13 July
Information security, technology and behaviours: what they are and why you need them
Arjen Kamphuis and Michael Rogers
Arjen Kamphuis and Michael Rogers
Arjen Kamphuis and Michael Rogers
Mark Lee Hunter
Mark Lee Hunter
Understanding Company Accounts: an Interactive Demonstration
An interactive demonstration of how the numbers in a profit and loss account and balance sheet are built up through out the year and how they are interlinked. We start with an empty company and see the effect of different types of transactions - such as share capital, sales, purchases, fixed asset, depreciation etc.
Please note, this class forms an Understanding Companies Accouts strand which starts on Friday 6 July and is not a class to be taken on its own, unless you already have a good understanding of accounts.
Understanding Company Accounts: How Companies Avoid Tax
In the last few years the issue of tax avoidance has become prominent in the UK and elsewhere. But what is it? How do companies do it? What are the consequences? And what do journalists need to know when addressing the issue? Richard Brooks will discuss cases like Vodafone and the huge leak of tax avoidance schemes involving Luxembourg, recently exposed by French TV company Premiere Lignes, BBC Panorama and Private Eye.
Photography for Evidence Gathering
Through recent case studies (Libya and Syria), we'll be focusing on the importance of thoroughly documenting the tools of war in (post-)conflict areas. We'll also see how, in this specific case, field research could be coupled with an "archeological" exploration of data and documents from the Belgian state archives, and how access to those archives could be obtained. Eventually, we'll briefly study the problems and obstacles encountered in the process.
Tales of Money and Power: Reporting Environmental Stories
The environment is often treated by journalists as a matter of disputed science. We will use the tools of story-based inquiry to explore the deeper geopolitical and economic interests that lie behind the epic environmental challenges of our time—including finding sources in unexpected places, following the trail of abuses over national frontiers, and framing your environmental investigations for what they are--among the biggest global financial stories of our time.
Sunday 14 July
Getting Scoops from the Local Councils
Paul Francis and Ted Jeory
With the Coalition's localism agenda at the heart of its policy on local government, with the scrapping of the Audit Commission and the sad retreat of local and regional newspapers, it is now more important than ever for journalists to turn their attention to town halls.
In fact, that lack of attention by some local papers provide investigative journalists with lucrative story opportunities. The Freedom of Information Act has generally been a great success, but town halls have become clever at circumventing it. However, while the transparency agenda now means we have access to masses of other raw data to analyse for corruption and wrongdoing, there is one other old-fashioned method that reporters seem to have forgotten: face-to-face contacts.
There is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves, getting to know the characters and bringing these people to life. They will enjoy the attention and you will be rewarded with fascinating insights and, crucially, tip-offs. The people involved with council affairs are usually the eyes and ears for the community. Get to know them and you’ll get a name. This course aims to show you how and why.
Will the public remember what you wrote? How can you write a story to be the talk of the pubs, comedy shows and secret police?
Then you remember the question Jim Goode, once Editor of Penthouse, asked the young Alexander Cockburn. ‘Alex,’ he asked, ‘is your hate pure?’
Webdocs: where to start: from skills to finances
How can I make a web-documentary? This beginner’s class gives a basic overview of what every digital documentarian needs: the skills, the resources, the financial opportunities and the production process of this emerging storytelling form. Will include take-home tips and handouts.
Data Journalism Workshops
CAR Intro: Start here if you are new to CAR - (B)
What is the excitement around data journalism? How can data journalism skills make you a better reporter? And most important, what should you being doing over the next three days at the Summer School if you’re new to data journalism and what to kick start your data skills? Come get answers to these and other questions you may have for getting off to the right start in computer-assisted reporting and data journalism.
Excel 1: The Power of Data Analysis for Stories (B) Hands-on
Data is everywhere – from government computers to websites. This course introduces data analysis using Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheets can help reporters find story ideas in the data. Participants will learn basic calculations, rates, ratios and analytic tools that generate story ideas. Class handout: Excel quick tips.
Excel 2: Finding Patterns in the Data (B) Hands-on
The second spreadsheet course covers built-in analytical tools, such as sorting, filtering, chart creation that help reporters quickly find great stories within databases.
Excel 4: Applying Statistics for Journalists (A) Hands-on
Statistical analysis that produces good story tips does not have to be done with statistical software. Reporters comfortable with spreadsheets will find that many stats can be done using Excel. This session takes participants through cross-tabulations and regression analysis using a spreadsheet, and shows how reporters find stories with these techniques.
Access 1: Understanding Databases (B) Hands-on
Spreadsheets are a great way to get started with CAR. But what happens when that dataset gets a little too big, or your analysis too complex? That's when it's time to move to a database manager like Microsoft Access. This class will introduce the basics of working with databases, including basic queries, filtering and sorting.
Access 2: Digging for the Story (B) Hands-on
The second Access course continues by introducing more complex analytical tools and techniques. The session will cover grouping, counting, summing and other aggregate functions.
Access 3: Joining Databases for Deeper Analysis (B) Hands-on
Basic analytical techniques only go so far when you have multiple datasets to work with. The third class in the database series introduces the real power of relational databases. In this session, you will learn how to take multiple tables of data and stitch them together to find hidden gems that make a great story.
Social Network Analysis: Using NodeXL to Analyse Social Networks (A) Hands-on
Journalists often notice how various groups differ from the rest of the society in terms of sex, age, income level, etc. This course introduces the use of methods that enable us to examine the social structure inside a group and between that group and society. It is now possible for a reporter to describe who has the most powerful connections in a community and how business boards are connected through interlocking directorships Learn how to use a free Excel add-in -- NodeXL -- that helps you visualize these social connections.
Getting CAR Right (B) Best Data Journalism Practices and First Efforts
How do computer-assisted reporting and data journalism stories get done? What steps and skills are necessary to go from start to finish? And how can you see investigative stories in a bunch of rows and columns of data? How do you wrestle data from reluctant bureaucrat? Learn about doing CAR from first efforts to the era of big data and see examples of award winning CAR work.
Download class handout
What to do When There is no Data: Sampling and Building Databases (A) Hands-on
You know what you want to investigate but the documents are overwhelming. They’re not yet data but are on paper or in PDF file. You’re overwhelmed. Learn techniques to reduce the mountain of paper and electronic documents into a database you can mine for stories.
Using technology, logic and esoteric websites to investigate individuals and organisations online. See how to manipulate social networks and work with search engines and images as you learn the skills of the Web detective.
What’s Next? Ideas, Trends and Practices (B)
So you've completed much of the CAR training, but you still have questions and concerns. Can't remember how to do a pivot table? Wonder how executing a database join will help you discover a story? Then this session is for you. Using a Q&A format, instructors will review any of the CAR skills taught in the summer school. Come with questions.
Data Visualisation 1: Principles and Spreadsheet Tools for Finding Visual Patterns in your Data (B), Hands-on.
You’ve heard visualising your data will help you see patters of fraud and other practices you want to investigate. But where do you begin? How do you make sure your visuals are easy to analyze, fool-proof and even worthy for posting to the Web. Learn principles of good data visualisations and see how you can do them quickly in Excel.
Importing Data: Getting data from the Web and other sources into your spreadsheet (B)
The web is flooding with data, but before it can be analysed, it needs to be downloaded and put into a computer. Participants will be introduced to different methods of data transfer and loading from web pages and PDF files using Excel and other tools.