Summer School 2012
6-8 July 2012
At this year's Summer School we asked what makes a great investigative journalist? Over 130 delegates and nearly 30 speakers took part in the school.
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Watch this space for the Summer School comments and feedback.
Keynote speakers: Dr Phil Hammond, Sheila Coronel, the Leveson panel: Brian Cathcart, Charlotte Harris and David Leigh.
Watergate started with a routine local court story about a burglary. Britain’s biggest ever corruption scandal, surrounding the architect John Poulson, began with a bankruptcy court hearing. Revelations that one of the richest British families, the Vesteys, paid no tax were set out in civil court records. All politics is local and so is corruption. Think Dame Shirley Porter and Westminster council’s homes-for-votes scandal. Follow the money usually means following the corporate food chain – a paper trail that leads to the face behind the money (Michael Ashcroft and his funding of the Conservative Party).
Documents make stories. Think the BAE slush fund and the State Department cables. But big stories, like secrets, need sources. From Woodward and Bernstein’s “Deep Throat” to Nick Davies and the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone. That means finding and developing contacts to make sense of the documents or open the door to receiving that box of secrets.
We looked at the powerful basics of investigative journalism – courts, councils, companies, contacts – where the big stories and basic journalism begin.
You can watch videos of a selection of the Summer School 2012 talks below:
Lessons from Leveson
Do investigative journalists need to behave differently? A panel discussion chaired by Gavin MacFadyen.
Dr Phil Hammond: What's Wrong with the NHS?
The writer, broadcaster and comedian talks about the state of the NHS.
Talks and Training
How to Request Documents Under the Freedom of Information Act
Brendan Montague and Lucas Amin from Request Initiative introduce the 'grazing' and 'mining' approach to making requests including how to establish a legal case to challenge refusals.
Miscarriages of Justice: the Case of Sam Hallam
Sam Hallam was wrongly accused and later acquitted of murder. He spent eight years in prison. Chair of the Sam Hallam campaign Paul May and solicitor Matt Foot speak about the methods they used to get this innocent man out of jail.
Statistics and how to Interpret Them
Statistics are everywhere. The creation and use of the statistics can be a mystery. Ed Swires-Hennessy gives a practical demonstration of the basic concepts of statistics and when we use them; it closes with a look at results and how to interpret them.
Communicating with Statistics
Everyone believes they can handle numbers effectively but reading stories in newspapers clearly indicates that not all journalists can. In this session Ed Swires-Hennessy looks at how readers will interpret – or not – the statistics presented, and how simple principles can be applied to communicate better.
How to do Court Reporting and get the Best Stories
Paul Cheston, probably the only dedicated courts reporter in London talks about the tricks of the trade, but also about the thrill of reporting from the courtrooms.
Best Data Journalism Practices and First Efforts
Kathryn Torney and David Donald talk about doing CAR from first efforts to the era of big data and see examples of award winning CAR work.
How do Investigative Stories get Commissioned?
David Leigh, the Guardian’s investigations executive editor and Iain Overton, the editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, talk about the process of commissioning investigative stories: what they look for and what would make them say yes to a story idea.