Investigative Journalism Summer Conference
Where new tools meet traditional craft
04 – 06 July 2019

Class information 2019

This page will be updated continuously, as talks and hands-on workshops get confirmed.

You can book for individual days as well as for all three days. On Thursday 4 July and Friday 5 July we will focus on practical skills, while Saturday 6 July will feature keynote talks, networking, discussions and #CIJSummer drinks reception.

Please note that some classes form mini-courses and are best attended as a whole.

The sessions marked [Rec] will be recorded.

Some data journalism workshops take place in computer labs where computers will be provided, but most will require you to bring your own laptops. Please see Technical Requirements page for all the info. The Data Concierge will be run every day to help you with installing software if you have difficulty doing it at home. Please make sure you have all the software installed before coming to the classes!

All data journalism workshops are practical, hands-on classes designed to teach participants the software and data analysis techniques used by journalists in the newsroom.

Refreshments are served several times a day (but not all the time) throughout the course, with a speakers and delegates lunch and drinks party held on Saturday.

Keynote/Networking Day Saturday 6 July 

Tickets are available for individual days, including Saturday keynote talks only. See the Book Now page for more information.

09:30 – Welcome from James Harkin, Director of the CIJ

09:50- 10:50 – Gavin MacFadyen Memorial Lecture – speaker TBC

11:10- 12:10 – Clare Rewcastle Brown, editor of the Sarawak Report. The Inside Story of the 1MDB Scandal. 

12:10 – 13:10 – Lunch

13:10- 14:10  – Fiona Hamilton and Michael Gillard. Chaired by Duncan Campbell. A Life in Crime.
How has crime reporting changed, and what are the new challenges of the beat? Michael Gillard, award-winning author of the new book Legacy: Gangsters, Corruption, and the London Olympics, in a rare and wide-ranging conversation with Fiona Hamilton, Crime and Security Editor of The Times. Chair: Duncan Campbell, veteran crime reporter at The Guardian, and author of the new book Underworld: The inside story of Britain’s professional and organised crime.

14:30- 15:30  Breakout talks.

Breakout 1. Robert Hunter: Cross-examination, Interrogation, Political Interviewing: What’s going on beneath the surface?
Robert Hunter is a solicitor advocate, who made interviewing techniques his lifelong interest. Having done many a cross-examination himself, he also analysed political interviewing and even attended the US police interrogation course. He will be sharing his knowledge. Robert is profoundly deaf and is a founder of City Disability charity.

Breakout 2. Cross-border Journalism Case Studies: Karie Kehoe (ICIJ), Nikolas Leontopoulos (Investigate Europe). Others – TBC.
In this session, leading cross-border reporters will showcase some of the most notable stories and share what they’ve learned from their collaborative experiences.

15:50- 16:50 – Shiv Malik, former investigative journalist at the Guardian, author of The Messenger. Let’s talk about sources.

16:50 – 17:00 – Closing remarks

17:00 – Drinks reception

Computer Security Advice Clinic

Thu 4 -Sat 6 July: Getting Hands-on, Installing the Tools for Digital Self-Defence

Visit the security zone in the Atrium with your laptop and learn how to set up tools to browse anonymously, chat and mail with encryption and prevent data-loss from theft/confiscation of laptops and storage media. This will include the TOR-browser, PGP mailcrypto and OTR-chat.

The security software we will be using are all free of cost and will work on Windows, Mac and Linux laptops. They will not work on iPads or Android tablets. Please bring a laptop that you are able/allowed to install software on and contact us with any specific questions beforehand.

Talks and Mini-Courses

Thursday 4 July – Friday 5 July

(In alphabetical order. Excluding Data Journalism, see below.)

Accessing Information Under FOIA – 1
Jenna Corderoy 
This session will outline the basics of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and how you can apply it to your research, campaigns and investigations. We’ll go through the type of information that can be accessed from government bodies and how you can draft effective requests to get the most out of the Act. We will also look at how to make requests for information under the lesser-known Environmental Information Regulations. Towards the end of the session, we will demonstrate WhatDoTheyKnowPro, a new FOIA toolkit for journalists developed by MySociety.

Accessing Information Under FOIA – 2
Jenna Corderoy 
This session will go through the FOIA appeals process, and teach you how to argue your case when government bodies are doing whatever they can to prevent a disclosure. At the end of the session, we will look at how to send freedom of information requests around the world. To finish, we’ll discuss and work through some of the FOIA challenges that you have encountered.

Best European Examples of Data Journalism
Winny de Jong.
For her Data Journalism Newsletter Winny collects the best of the Data Journalism Web. In this presentation she shares her favorites from all over Europe, carefully explaining why she loves these publications so much. Can’t wait for the presentation? Subscribe at http://bit.ly/ddjnews to get a small Data Journalism Party in your inbox every Sunday.
The Cornerman. A True Crime investigation
Alon Aviram
Class description TBC

Crossborder journalism – Everybody can learn it
Brigitte Alfter
If you’re impressed by large crossborder stories like CumEx Files, Panama Papers or Malta Files, don’t be daunted. It is a method, everybody can learn. In this workshop Brigitte Alfter will give an introduction to the basic considerations of crossborder collaborative journalism, the levels of intensity and the process from idea to publication and beyond. Brigitte is the author of Crossborder Collaborative Journalism: A Step-By-Step-Guide. 


The Cornerman. A True Crime investigation
Alon Aviram
Alon Aviram will reveal the rise and fall of one of Britain’s most elusive organised crime bosses whose whispered name terrified communities from London’s glitzy West End to the leafy West Country.
Firmly on the police’s radar ever since his name was linked to two notorious and still unsolved gangland murders twenty years ago in London, the Cornerman used his connection with one of the capital’s most successful crime families to build a network extending along the M4 corridor to Bristol. He walked free from prosecutions for kidnapping, murder and extortion of a championship football club owner. At least ten men, women and children, have been taken into witness protection on the police’s insistence. Meanwhile, the Cornerman continued to cash in by running protection rackets, cosying up to big players in the world of sport, and from providing security for the men behind high society nightclubs loved by the young royals and A-list celebrities. This talk will give a behind-the-scenes account of that long term shoe-leather investigation.


Covert Filming
Paul Samrai
Not so much a masterclass than a highly informative overview of every aspect of covert filming by Paul who has been doing it for last 25 years.
He has worked for every single channel in U.K. and major international broadcasters.
Learn about role playing, bonding with the subject, coping and exit strategies, latest equipment and how to escape when rumbled.
There’s never been a better time to get involved with covert filming. Hear it from the best in the business.


Don’t be Numbed by Numbers
Jonathan Stoneman
What do you do when faced with a really big dataset for the first time? Using examples, Jonathan Stoneman will discuss approaches that help reduce a daunting mountain of data to a manageable mass.
Although this is not a hands-on session it will be possible to download the demo data and follow along.


Fantastic Formulas to Filter Social Media
Henk van Ess
Who is the mysterious person behind a mining contract in the Central African Republic? What do you do when you have only a very common name and no photos? You filter social media with what you have. Henk van Ess from Bellingcat shows you how mr./mrs Brown was tracked down via clever use of internet. And what to do when a Twitter account is completely deleted? Henk van Ess hows you some fantastic filtering in social media, based on his work for European news media.


Follow the Money: Financial Investigations
Cynthia O’Murchu
The session will teach you ways to investigate an individual or company’s finance. I’ll take you on a virtual trip around the world to show how to access public records in offshore jurisdictions and the stories they can yield.


Heineken in Africa
Olivier van Beemen. Chaired by David Dunkley Gyimah
From hiring sex workers to sell their products to buttressing murderous regimes, what are Western multinationals really up to in Africa and how might we go about researching it?


Holding a mirror to the National Health Service
Shaun Lintern
Tips, tricks and ethical insights in how to properly investigate the UK NHS by the journalist who helped expose the Mid Staffordshire scandal. How to work with whistleblowers and bereaved families while at the same time respecting the commitment and dedication to NHS staff. Hear the shocking truth about the safety of the NHS and what role journalists can play in making it safer.


How to Get the Most Out of Companies House
Martin Tomkinson and Robert Miller
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 for those who know how to use the site. The aim of this class is to show how to get the most information from the official website, as well as highlighting what information can’t be found there. 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: Companies House.


Introduction to Data Journalism: How to get the most of Data Tracks.
This session will provide a chance to find out what data journalism classes are on offer and which tools are best for which tasks. Our data trainers will advice you on the best data pathway and explain how you can improve your jouralism with data analysis.


Investigating the National Health Service
Shaun Lintern
Tips and pitfalls to avoid when working with bereaved families and whistleblowers
How best to get to grips with complex policy to find that story
A walk through of some of the Health Service Journal’s most high-profile investigations
Some of the stories included will be exposing the cover-up of a murder on a hospital ward; body parts being stockpiled; uncovering one of the biggest NHS maternity scandals and a year long investigation of a cover-up involving child deaths by the NHS.


Investigative Interview Techniques
Fiona Gabbert
This talk will provide an overview of investigative interviewing tools and techniques used within a forensic context. The focus here is to elicit detailed and reliable information from witnesses and suspects as this can play a
central role in legal decision-making and, ultimately, the delivery of justice. For a number of psychological reasons, even cooperative witnesses do not spontaneously report all the information they know. Further, interviewers can inadvertently limit or contaminate witness accounts through the use of misleading or otherwise inadequate questioning techniques. As such,investigative interviewing is a multi-faceted skill to master, and demands a sound understanding of memory, communication, and other cognitive, social, and environmental factors that may affect the content and accuracy of witness or suspect accounts. Throughout the talk, psychological factors known to underpin successful investigative interviews will be introduced, including building and maintaining rapport, establishing the role of the interviewer and interviewee, providing retrieval support, and asking the right questions at the right time.


Libel and Privacy Laws
Justin Walford
In this session you will learn about libel and privacy and hear how recent cases have affected the law. This class is for anyone who wants to update their legal knowledge and find out how they are affected by recent legal developments.


Online Toolkits and Resources for Data Journalists
Winny de Jong
First Aid for your data journalism learning problem. When you’re diving into a new field of expertise, all can be overwhelming. Winny is here to help: tell her what you’d like to learn and why so far that didn’t work out; and she’ll try to point you to the online toolkit or resource you did not know you wanted. This workshop will be a full improvisation, so buckle up.


SCIENCE: 101 on science reporting
Kevin McConway. Moderated by Wendy Grossman
Where to find stories and how to read research papers and university and journal press releases.  

SCIENCE: Reporting on academic misconduct and the business of science
Éanna Kelly, Hannah Devlin and Holly Else.  Moderated by Emma Stoye

SCIENCE: Digging out research discoveries and science scoops
Crispin Dowler, Joshua Howgego, Julian Sturdy and Mike Power. Moderated by Wendy Grossman


Story-Based Inquiry 1: Hypothesise Your Story
Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter
Investigation has a dirty name with editors, who think it’s about slowly rummaging through piles of garbage till you find (or don’t find) a jewel. Too often, they’re right. This session will show you how to choose a subject and define your investigation as a story from the start, using hypotheses. The method helps you figure out what to look for, how to look for it and how to sell it to your boss and the public.

Story-Based Inquiry 2: Creative Techniques Create the Timeline and Scenarise the Story
Mark Lee Hunter and Luuk Sengers
In this session we map the plot of a story – a sequence of events that must have occurred, which we can subsequently verify and enrich. Simultaneously, we create scenes, with characters whose actions and conflicts define the content and meaning of the story. These events lead to the sources you need.

Story-Based Inquiry 3: From Source Mapping to the MasterFile
Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter
This session begins with an alternative to the timeline – a map of the actors in your story and the sources they hold. Now that we’ve shown you where to acquire information assets, we’ll show you how to optimise them. We’ll create a simple but effective database in which you collect the results of your investigation. This ‘MasterFile’ makes it easier to structure your story – the hardest part of composition. It’s a way to write while you research, instead of first researching and then writing. It’s also a way to build resources for a long, successful career.

Story-Based Inquiry 4: Craft the Story
Mark Lee Hunter and Luuk Sengers
This session shows you how to compose a story that hits hard and fast, and builds to a powerful conclusion. The core of this method is continuous composition and referencing – an approach that saves both you and your colleagues time and anguish. We turn the ‘MasterFile’ into a narrative structure based on a chronology or a sequence of themes and characters. We apply techniques for controlling rhythm, the element that keeps your audience reading, listening or watching. We finish with quality control – reducing the risk of mistakes that can cause damage to others and your own reputation.


Tracking down most wanted criminal via Instagram
Henk van Ess
Henk van Ess shows you how to track down a fugitive criminal with the help of Instagram & a little help of Facebook and Google. The police wants to know who the convict contacted and where he is right now.
This session will show you just that.
What is “chronolocation” and why do we need it? How do we research deceiving Instagrams? What is wrong with Google reverse image search? What is the hidden connection between Instagram and Facebook?
This is the first public session ever about the case that made headlines in The Netherland this spring


Understanding Company Accounts 1-4
Raj Bairoliya
This course taught by a journalist-friendly forensic accountant will show you how to understand company accounts and get beyond the corporate PR spin. The emphasis will be on teaching practical skills rather than a series of lectures. The objective of this course is to ensure that all participants feel comfortable with a set of accounts and know where and how to look for relevant information.
The only prerequisites for this course are numeracy and an interest in financial matters as the theory will be taught in the first class and applied to real-life examples in the following sessions.
You must attend all the classes in this strand to benefit from it fully.
It will include the following topics: motivation to massage earnings; profit and loss account; balance sheet; funds flow statement; notes. And will finish with putting it all together, an interactive session building up a sample set of accounts or case study questions.
The participants are actively encouraged to ask questions throughout.
Raj’s handbook: The Investigative Journalist’s Guide to Company Accounts. Second edition. 

Data Journalism (CAR)

All class descriptions are listed in alphabetical order.Note: (B) signifies beginners, (I) intermediate and (A) advanced levels
Courses with numbers (eg Excel 1, Excel 2, Excel 3…) should be taken in sequence.
You do need to have your own laptop for most of these classes. You do not need laptops for Excel 1-3 and Google Sheets (please open a Google account if you do not have one already).The number of places is limited and allocated on first come, first served basis. 
Creating data visualisations and interactives with Flourish

Creating Data Visualisations and Interactives with Flourish
Katie Riley
Flourish was built on the principle that everyone in a newsroom – not just developers – should be able to quickly and easily make beautiful interactive graphics and data visualisations. In this session, you’ll learn how to do just that. Katie Riley, Flourish’s in-house Data Journalist who previously worked on the graphics team at the Financial Times, will introduce the tool and lead participants through the process of creating, editing and publishing data-driven stories using Flourish. No previous experience with data visualisation or any coding knowledge is required.Technical Requirements: Flourish is a completely browser-based tool, so all participants need to do is show up with a computer that can connect to the internet.

Data Cleaning with Pandas 1 – (I), Hands-on*
Karrie Kehoe
Data cleaning can feel more like data penance, but Pandas can ease your pain, allowing you to clean and structure your data with minimal hassle. Jupyter Notebook’s interactive environment helps you keep track of your changes and allows you to explore your data.
Participants can expect to learn how to clean large complicated datasets quickly and learn how to explore data too large for Excel by using the browser based Jupyter Notebook.
Participants should have previous experience of coding at a basic level or more.

Data Wrangling with Pandas 2 – (I), Hands-on*
Karrie Kehoe
Your data is squeaky clean and ready to go – time to dig deep and start hunting for those elusive leads. Pandas allows you to quickly and easily perform statistical analysis on your data helping you to mine for stories and look for outliers.
Participants can expect to learn programmatic methods to analyse large datasets and to visualise their results within Jupyter Notebook.
Participants should have previous experience of coding at a basic level or more.

*Why Python? 

Python makes it easy to replicate your analysis at a later stage and reduces the threat of human error that many face in Excel. It’s also shareable within teams and allows you to document and explain your work within the notebook so you can come back to it later and easily pick up from where you left off.
There are no upper limits in terms of data size, you can use Python on a csv with 10 rows or a billion. You get to a point where the limitation is the speed of the RAM on your machine, at which point you need to switch to a server.

Dealing with Large Datasets
Jonathan Stoneman
What do you do when faced with a really big dataset for the first time? Using examples, Jonathan Stoneman will discuss approaches that help reduce a daunting mountain of data to a manageable mass.
Although this is not a hands-on session it will be possible to download the demo data and follow along.

Excel 1: The Power of Data Analysis for Stories (B), Hands-on
Helena Bengtsson and Luuk Sengers
Data is everywhere and spreadsheets can help reporters to find story ideas in the data. This course introduces data analysis using Microsoft Excel. Participants will learn basic calculations to find examples, outliers, trends and shares in data and how sorting and filtering can help you generate story ideas.

Excel 2: Finding Patterns in the Data (B), Hands-on
Helena Bengtsson and Luuk Sengers
The second spreadsheet course covers more advanced formulas for Excel – how to clean data and use functions to help reporters quickly find great stories within data. We will also take a look at simple charts for finding trends or ideas for stories.

Excel 3: Summarising Your Data for the Big Picture (B), Hands-on
Helena Bengtsson and Luuk Sengers
To complete your spreadsheet toolkit, learn how to make pivot tables and other functions that will summarise trends in your data and enable you to cross match data from different sources.


Finding Needles in Haystacks with Fuzzy Matching, Hands-On
Max Harlow
Fuzzy matching is a process for linking up names that are similar, but not quite the same. It has become an increasingly important part of data-led investigations as a way to identify connections between public figures, key people, and companies that are relevant to a story. This class will cover how fuzzy matching typically fits into the investigative process, with some story examples. We will show you how to run some of the different types of fuzzy match on some real datasets, including the pros and cons of each.
Own laptop required. Install Python 3 (https://www.python.org/downloads). On Macs open the Terminal (inside Applications, then Utilities) and run: pip3 install csvmatch. On Windows, also install Cygwin (https://cygwin.com/install.html), then open Cygwin and run: pip3 install csvmatch.

Googlesheets 1 (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan
Data journalism introduction: overview of the seven building blocks behind data stories
The basics: use Googlesheets to carry out basic calculations and percentage increases

Googlesheets 2 (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan
Finding your top line: sorting and filtering in Googlesheets/Excel
Handy/fun tools: (split, concatenate, currency conversion, translate)

Googlesheets 3  (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan
Quick-smart data summary/analysis using pivot tables
Merging datasets (VLookUps)
Basic scraping using Google’s Import tools

Graph Databases 1. (I) Hands-on
Leila Haddou, Max Harlow
In data journalism, we tend to use relational databases –  data in table form – such as Excel or SQL to do our analysis and find stories. Graph databases are different, but are incredibly useful to find connections or patterns within our data that would be difficult, if not impossible, to spot using a relational database. This session will provide a hands-on introduction to graph database Neo4j, showing examples of its use for investigative stories including the Panama Papers, and demonstrate how to build a graph database of political donations and match them with corporate data to see at a glance the networks involved.

Own laptop required. For graph databases 1 and 2: Install Neo4j (https://neo4j.com/download).

Graph Databases 2. (I) Hands-on
Leila Haddou, Max Harlow
In part two, you will learn to analyse your newly built graph database using Cypher, Neo4j’s query language. It is advisable to have completed part one to get the most out of this session.

Own laptop required. For graph databases 1 and 2: Install Neo4j (https://neo4j.com/download).

How Can Code Help Your Journalism?
Leila Haddou, Max Harlow
This talk is an introductory primer to understanding how code is used in the newsroom, showing recent story examples, explaining the fundamental concepts in programming and demystifying the jargon.
 You will learn how code is used by reporters to find stories and aid investigations, and gain a basic understanding of how computer programs are structured. 
We will also provide a guide to the most common programming languages to help you identify which would suit your needs if you decide pursue learning yourself.

No computers required

Introduction to Data Visualisation
Sophie Warnes
If you’ve ever wondered how to make well-designed charts, this session will explain exactly how. Sophie will take you on a brief tour of the history of data visualisation, cover the principles of how data is encoded into visual cues, and end with an opportunity to make your own data visualisation using the HighCharts.js library.
Online Toolkits and Resources for Data Journalists
Winny de Jong
First Aid for your data journalism learning problem. When you’re diving into a new field of expertise, all can be overwhelming. Winny is here to help: tell her what you’d like to learn and why so far that didn’t work out; and she’ll try to point you to the online toolkit or resource you did not know you wanted. This workshop will be a full improvisation, so buckle up.

R – 1: Introduction to R (B), Hands-on**
Caelainn Barr
In the first class, R-1, you’ll be shown the basics and get familiar with R and RStudio, import data and learn some functions for getting to grips with your dataset including sorting and filtering. This class assumes no prior experience with R.

R – 2:  Data Wrangling and Statistics in R (A), Hands-on**
Caelainn Barr
In R-2 you’ll get down to some data wrangling and learn how join datasets and carry out calculations in R that will allow you to identify trends in the data for storytelling. You’ll also learn statistical functions in R and how to use ggplot2 for basic visual analysis.

R – 3:  Scraping and APIs in R (A), Hands-on**
Caelainn Barr
In the third and final class, R-3, you’ll use R to scrape, clean and structure data from webpages and APIs. You’ll also learn how to use R to convert, join and split difficult data files.

**If you are a complete beginner, these sessions will work best if you come to classes 1 to 3 as we will be building on knowledge and datasets from class to class. However, if you have experience in R you are free to join classes 2 and/or 3.

SQL for Journalists -1, Hands-on***
Crina Boroş
What to do when Excel is not enough to crunch your data and hardcore coding is not your style? SQL is like Excel, but on steroids! This is the first of three workshops and will introduce you to the lingua franca of programming and a popular relational database. You’ll see what SQL does: create a database, import a spreadsheet, and learn about the main ‘select statements’.
Note: Familiarity with Excel is recommended for those wishing to attend.

​SQL for Journalists – 2, Hands-on***
Crina Boroş
You’ll learn about the power of the Golden Query through the introduction of functions, filters and analysing data using code for reporting. You’ll also start joining tables.
Note: Familiarity with SQL ‘select statements’ is necessary, and with Excel recommended for those wishing to attend.

SQL for Journalists 3, Hands-on***
Crina Boroş
Building on SQL 1 and 2, you’ll make tables talk to each other, clean dirty data and update tables.
Note: Familiarity with SQL ‘select statements’ is necessary, and with Excel recommended for those wishing to attend.

*** Software requirements: SQL
The classes will take place in a computer lab, but if you prefer to use your own laptop you will need:
Microsoft SQL Server Manager; Excel 2010 or newer; Notepad (classic, retro, free one for .txt)​

Web Scraping for Journalists 1+2
Paul Bradshaw
In these hands-on sessions you will be introduced to some of the basic techniques to get started on scraping data for investigations:
– investigation ideas: how to spot opportunities to use scraping and automation in investigations
– scraping basics: finding structure in HTML and URLs; what’s possible with programming
– simple scraping jobs: how to write a basic scraper in five minutes
– data journalism tools: the challenges of scraping hundreds of webpages, dozens of documents, or the invisible contents of databases.
Own laptop required.