BIRN School: Journalists Hone Interviewing Skills

The third day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting saw students taught how to coax important sources into revealing information, how to interview the victims of trauma and how to use Excel to carry out investigations.

Jim Mintz of Columbia University took reporters through the techniques in getting reluctant sources to cough up their secrets, thus allowing journalists to get closer to the truth.

Learning to listen and carefully posing questions were among the tips given by Gavin Rees of the Dart Center Europe in his workshop on how to interview victims of trauma.

Students in the afternoon sessions were taught by Helena Bengtsson, of the Swedish National Broadcasting Service, how to use Excel to organise data from investigations into a meaningful way, revealing potential stories that the journalists may not have thought of.

In the evening, a panel discussion was held with Paul Radu, OCCRP, and Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog, on social media and investigative reporting. The panel discussed the opportunities offered by social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, but also the potential pitfalls to avoid.