Investigative Journalism Summer Conference
Designed for journalists. Open to all.
25 – 27 June 2020

Class information 2020

The classes below were available at the 2019 Summer Conference. They are listed for reference and the classes for 2020 will be confirmed here soon.

You can book for individual days as well as for all three days. On Thursday 25 June and Friday 26 June we will focus on practical skills, while Saturday 27 June 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 [R] on the timetable will be recorded. Videos will be published on the CIJ YouTube channel a few weeks after the conference.

Data journalism workshops will require you to bring your own laptops. Please see Technical Requirements page for all the info. The Data Concierge service 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.

Data Concierge
Help with installing data software for #CIJSummer 2020. Bring your laptop and tell us the data journalism sessions you plan to attend, and one of our ‘concierges’ will help you to install the necessary software before you arrive at your chosen sessions.

You will need to have admin privileges on the laptop you are working with.

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

Keynote/Networking Day Saturday 27 June

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 – Keynote 1.

Speaker – TBC

12:10 – 13:10 – Lunch


13:10- 14:10  – Keynote 3

Speaker – TBC

14:30- 15:30 – Breakout talks.
Breakout 1 

Speaker – TBC

Breakout 2

Speaker – TBC

15:50- 16:50 – Keynote 4

Speaker – TBC

16:50 – 17:00 – Closing remarks
17:00 – Drinks reception, networking

Information Security Advice Clinic

Thu 25 – Sat 27 June: 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 25 June – Friday 26 June

Hands-on Workshops: (B) signifies beginner, (I) intermediate and (A) advanced levels
You do need to have your own laptop for all of the hands-on classes.
Courses with numbers (eg Excel 1, Excel 2, Excel 3…) are best taken in sequence.
The number of places in hands-on classes is limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis. 

All sessions are listed in alphabetical order.

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 types 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, an online 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.

Build a Better News Mousetrap: A crash-course in design thinking 1 & 2, Hands-on
Aron Pilhofer
Design thinking is a methodology for building better news products. It is used by some of the largest, most innovative news sites in the world to rapidly develop and test new products and features. In these hands-on workshops, we will learn the basics of design thinking, and how this approach has revolutionised the process. Together we will learn the basics of design thinking and apply what we’ve learned to a real-world problem.


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 major channel in the UK and major international broadcasters. Learn about role playing, bonding with the subject, coping and exit strategies, the latest equipment and how to escape when rumbled. There’s never been a better time to get involved with covert filming. Learn from the best in the business.


Creating Data Visualisations and Interactives with Flourish, Hands-on
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. The trainer 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.
Own laptop required. 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. Please sign up for a free Flourish account (via https://app.flourish.studio/register), so the class can get started right away.


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 if you bring your own laptop.


Excel 1: The Power of Data Analysis for Stories (B), Hands-on
Jonathan Stoneman

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 spikes in data and explains how sorting and filtering can help you generate story ideas.
The class takes place in a Goldsmiths computer lab. No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like. See technical requirements. 

Excel 2: Finding Patterns in the Data (B), Hands-on
Jonathan Stoneman

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.
The class takes place in a Goldsmiths computer lab. No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like. See technical requirements. 

Excel 3: Summarising Your Data for the Big Picture (I), Hands-on
Jonathan Stoneman
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.
The class takes place in a Goldsmiths computer lab. No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like. See technical requirements. 


Finding the Human Face in a Data-Driven Investigation
Leila Haddou and Paul Bradshaw
We use data in our investigations to find out about the the scale of a problem that is affecting people, systems that aren’t helping them, or to shine a light on particular individuals. This workshop focuses on techniques for finding the human stories that help bring that data to life, from scoping the characters and settings that can help inject movement into your story, to tips on finding and interviewing key sources.


Googlesheets 1 (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan and Luuk Sengers
Data journalism introduction: overview of the seven building blocks behind data stories. The basics: use Googlesheets to carry out basic calculations and percentage increases.
The class takes place in a Goldsmiths computer lab. Please create a Google Drive account, if you do not have one already. No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like.

Googlesheets 2 (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan and Luuk Sengers
Finding your top line: sorting and filtering in Googlesheets/Excel. With handy/fun tools such as split, concatenate, currency conversion, translate.
The class takes place at a Goldsmiths computer lab. Please create a Google Drive account, if you do not have one already. No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like.

Googlesheets 3  (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan and Luuk Sengers
Quick-smart data summary/analysis using pivot tables, merging datasets (VLookUps) and basic scraping using Google’s Import tools.
The class takes place at a Goldsmiths computer lab. Please create a Google Drive account, if you do not have one already. No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like.


Graph Databases 1 (I) Hands-on
Leila Haddou and 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 software 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). See technical requirements. 

Graph Databases 2 (I) Hands-on
Leila Haddou and 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). See technical requirements. 


Introduction to Data Journalism: How to get the most out of the #CIJSummer Data Strand.
Data trainers
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 advise you on the best data pathway and explain how you can improve your journalism with data analysis.


Investigating the National Health Service
Shaun Lintern

A walk through of some of the Health Service Journal’s most high-profile investigations, including tips and pitfalls to avoid when working with bereaved families and whistleblowers, plus how best to get to grips with complex policy to find that story.
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.


Investigating Offshore Finances and Money-Laundering
Graham Barrow
How do you investigate ‘dark money? Knowing how ‘dark money’ enters the financial system is crucial to covering money laundering, corruption, bribery and tax evasion. In this session you will be provided with the tips, tools and resources for shining a light on a murky world.


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.


Open Source: 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? And what to do when a Twitter account is completely deleted? You filter social media with what you have. In this session you will find out how Mr/Mrs Brown was tracked down via clever use of fantastic filtering in social media, based on the trainer’s work for European news media.


Open Source: Tracking Down a Most-Wanted Criminal via Instagram
Henk van Ess
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?
How can you track down a fugitive criminal with Instagram and a little help from Facebook and Google, when the police want to know who the convict contacted and where he is right now? This session will answer all these questions and more
This is the first public session ever about the case that made headlines in The Netherlands this spring.


R 1: Introduction to R (B), Hands-on*
Caelainn Barr and Niamh McIntyre
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.
Own laptop required. See technical requirements. 

R 2:  Data Wrangling and Statistics (A), Hands-on*
Caelainn Bar and Niamh McIntyre
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.
Own laptop required. See technical requirements. 

R 3:  Scraping and APIs (A), Hands-on*
Caelainn Barr and Niamh McIntyre
In the third and final class, 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.
Own laptop required. See technical requirements. 

*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.


Story-Based Inquiry 1: A Method Through the Madness
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
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: Practical Tools
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: Crafting 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.


SQL for Journalists 1 (I) 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 that 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.
Own laptops required. See technical requirements. 

​SQL for Journalists 2 (I) 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.
Own laptops required. See technical requirements. 

SQL for Journalists 3 (I) 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.
Own laptops required. See technical requirements. 


Understanding Company Accounts: How to get the Most 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.

Understanding Company Accounts 1-4
Raj Bairoliya
This mini-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 the 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. 


Web Scraping for Journalists 1+2 (B) Hands-on
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. See Technical requirements. 


Web Scraping Without Code (B) Hands-on
Pamela Duncan and Niamh McIntyre
How to use the import functions for scraping data into Googlesheets, building a basic scraper with websraper.io and OCR 3 ways.
The class takes place at a Goldsmiths computer lab. Please create a Google Drive account, if you do not have one already.No laptops required, but you can use your own if you like.<


Why Code? 
Max Harlow, Niamh McIntyre, Helena Bengtsson. Chaired by Leila Haddou.
A talk for those who are unsure on how knowledge of code can help journalists in their investigations. Leila Haddou will talk to a developer, Max Harlow; a code newbie data journalist, Niamh McIntyre; and a code old-hand data journalist and editor, Helena Bengtsson. The discussion will cover the use of code for journalism, which language to learn, and why and how it can improve your investigations. Questions from the audience are welcome and encouraged.