During the last IRE conference, I had the chance to hear Nicole Hannah-Jones discuss investigating racial inequality and her favorite methods and tips for finding and proving racial inequality. She is especially brilliant when it comes to covering issues with education and housing.
At NICAR, Jones joined Ron Nixon of The New York Times and the Ida B. Wells Society to discuss investigating inequity.
Panels at NICAR and IRE will have a specific reporting topic or process and then we invite them to come and speak about it. Many panelists will share examples of their own stories and just describe how they found their story, their reporting process and other thoughts on how to go about reporting on that topic.
For me, a good panel goes beyond just talking about their reporting. Reporters and editors can talk about a specific story, but it adds more value and context when they give specific methods they used that can be applied elsewhere. And that’s why Jones and Nixon was a special panel.
Jones talked about stories that she had worked on and ones that other people had done, but she used them as an example for the places that she found data and how she interpreted it.
She also shared a handful of useful links for finding databases and how to use them.
The most important part of Nixon’s discussion was his call for people to collect government databases before they disappear. This is incredibly important, as there have already been issues with the Trump administration and data conveniently disappearing.
Collecting data is something that I plan to try on the local level. Even if the threat of local data isn’t as severe, it’s an important practice.