More Tips & Tools


Art of the Investigative Interview – Deb Nelson

Video: TEDxUMD | “The Fence, the Hedge and the Moat

Art of the Sensitive Interview – Deb Nelson

Picking & Pursuing Investigative Projects – Deb Nelson

Video: National Press Foundation | “‘Shock and Awe’ — How to Dig Up the Real Story

FOI: A Reporter’s Guide to Freeing Data & Documents – Deb Nelson

Audio: IRE Radio Podcast | Free the Data Step 1Free the Data Step 2,  Free the Data Step 3

FOI Tip and Links – IRE

Find People

InvestigateLocal DMV

Digital Verification: If Your Mother Tweets She Loves You Check It Out

Rising sea levels – Deb Nelson, Ryan McNeill, Duff Wilson

Safety tips – Deb Nelson

How to Write Complex Narratives – Jacqui Banaszynski


The Verification Handbook – edited by Craig Silverman

The Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting – edited by Craig Silverman and Rina Tsubaki

Google Media Tools

105 Vital Sources for Journalists – Sean Flynn

10 Expert Tips in Finding Who, Where and When Henk van Ess



List of open data sources

Data is Plural – weekly newsletter

Data is Plural database archive


Congressional bill status

Congressional Record CapitolWords database of words – Sunlight

Courts – Supreme Court case data 1791-2015

Courts bulk data – Courts Listener

Cruise ship inspections – CDC

Disease – Global Burden of Disease Data Tool Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Drone permits for non-recreations use – FAA  CSV version from The Verge

Economic typology by county – USDA

Federal employee data – Salary, title and demographic data on every federal employee since 1973 obtained by Buzzfeed through a FOIA request.

Gun law data by state

Health Inequality Project

Health data county-level – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Income — Penn World Table relative income and productivity

Infrastructure DHS open data on U.S.  (HIFLD)

Higher Ed data for student investigations – Journalist’s Resource

Homeless data from HUD by location and year

Land cover – NLCD

Natural amenities scale by location – USDA

Nuclear plants worldwide

Population subnational numbers for the world – WHO

Power plants – US Energy Information Administration

Rainfall global – Climate Hazards Group

Tide gauge data

Transit stations, schedules – TransitlandTransitfeeds

TSA legal claims

UK property sales

War and peace – UCDP


10 tools for data journalism


OpenData Socrata

Create a Map with Google Fusion

Create a Knightlab Timeline


quickQuote Open-source app that lets you select quotes from your video and embed in your text story.

TapeACall Subscription app ($9.99/yr) for recording calls while on the phone.  (Check the law for your state in the RCFP “Reporters Guide for Recording.”)

Art of the Investigative Interview

PREPARATION PLAN. Before proceeding, take time for mental preparation. Ask yourself what you hope to get from the interview. What information? What documents? What video/audio? Jot down the topics you want to hit on. (Avoid long lists of specific, pre-worded questions. Instead, identify specific facts you need to get.) What concerns is this person likely …

Art of the Sensitive Interview

Interviews with people who have experienced trauma require extra sensitivity but not less rigor. Here are some basic guidelines for survivors of war crimes, combat, domestic violence, violent crime, abuse, neglect, disasters, accidents, illness, poverty, injustice, racism, human trafficking… Prepare. Understand the grieving and recovery process. Have a working knowledge of the immediate and long-term …

Backgrounding & finding people

One-stop shopping: Bellingcat’s Online Investigation Tool Kit Phones and addresses: DexPages phone book – yellow and white pages for landlines Spokeo – cell, email, address history Numberway Phone #s Email: for finding email addresses by organization or company Social media advanced search: LinkedIn advanced search Twitter advanced search Facebook advanced search Instagram search tips …

Backgrounding Nonprofits & Companies

Links with an asterisk * connect to tutorials about how to read the documents. NONPROFITS Tax-exempt corporations file annual financial statements, called 990s,* with the IRS that must be made publicly available at their office. They also are available through a public records request to the IRS and through various online sources. The documents include …

FOI: A Guide to Freeing Data & Documents

A REPORTER’S GUIDE TO UNLEASHING E-DOCS (A.R.G.U.E.) When you file a FOIA request, the government must justify every field, case or cell it plans to withhold with a statutory exemption.  Under the 2016 FOIA amendments, they not only must show that a record falls under an exemption but also that release of the record would result …

Getting started: How to pick & pursue investigative projects

People frequently ask how often I spend months investigating something only to hit a dead end. My answer: Rarely. While investigative reporting is by nature risky business, there are steps you can take at the start to improve the chances of delivering at the end. Here’s an excerpt from an IRE Journal article I wrote …

Safety tips

GOLDEN RULE: NO STORY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR LIFE Risk assessment From Rory Peck Trust, IJNET/Sherri Riccardi  Are you covering a high-risk event or visiting a high-risk location? What are the risks? E.g. Injury? Arrest? Are you at increased risk because of your occupation, gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation? Are you meeting someone who …

Verification: If your mother tweets she loves you, check it out

For guides, tip sheets and more, visit Global Investigative Journalism Network GIJN.ORG & IRE.ORG Bellingcat’s Online Investigation Tool Kit Check Debunking Handbook Emergent How to spot fake news Field Guide to Fake News Google Fact Check (US & UK) News Verification Guide by Tom Trewinnard Poynter International Fact Checking Network and fact-check research database Snopes Field Guide to …

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