2012 Drilling Deep Investigative Reporting Workshop: Tampa

SABEW Staff Report

PHOENIX –Brant Houston and David Cay Johnston, a pair of luminaries in investigative reporting, will headline a special SABEW workshop Nov. 30 at the Tampa Tribune.

The workshop will be final stop in the “Drilling Deep” series, sponsored by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

The workshop will feature two experts with ties to the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) organization: former IRE executive director Houston of the Investigative News Network, and current IRE President Johnston.

Joining them in the lineup of speakers is Chris Davis, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and investigations editor for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times) and Aaron Kessler, a staff writer covering international corruption for the not-for-profit 100Reporters.  Kessler is an award-winning investigative reporter who formerly worked at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The foundation awarded SABEW a $25,000 grant to provide training in investigative business reporting in four cities.  Workshops were held this summer in Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and Toronto, drawing a total of 165 journalists.

Workshop organizer Marty Steffens, the SABEW chair at the Missouri School of Journalism, rounds out the speakers.  Steffens was the principal planner of the Oklahoma City workshop.

To see materials from the workshop, click here.

The workshop will be held at the Tampa Tribune at 200 S. Parker St. Tampa, FL 33606.




Brant Houston

Brant Houston holds the Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting and teaches investigative and advanced reporting in the Department of Journalism in the College of Media at Illinois. Houston serves at the chair of the steering committee of the newly formed Investigative News Network, a coalition of nonprofit journalism centers, and as coordinator for the Global Investigative Journalism Network. Houston became the chair after serving for more than a decade as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 3,500-member organization, and as a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 17 years. He also is the author of three editions of the textbook, “Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide,” and co-author of the fourth edition and fifth edition of “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook.”


David Cay Johnston

David Cay Johnston is one of the foremost investigative reporters in the U.S., and is current president of Investigative Reporters and Editors. His latest investigative book, published in September, is The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use Plain English to Rob You Blind.  In 2001 while at the New York Times, he received a Pulitzer Prize for exposing tax loopholes. Just two of the tax dodges that were shut down after his expose were valued by Congress at $260 billion. He is known as the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States” and other journalists have called his work  the equal of the late 19th Century great muckrakers Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair.  Since 2009 he has taught the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management.  Johnston’s other books include  Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill, about hidden subsidies, rigged markets, and corporate socialism. That 2012 release follows his earlier book, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—and Cheat Everybody Else, a New York Times bestseller on the U.S. tax system that won the Investigative Reporters and Editors Book of the Year award in 2003.



Chris Davis

Two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Chris Davis is the investigations editor for the Tampa Bay Times, formerly the St. Petersburg Times. As a reporter and editor in Florida for the past 15 years, he has led investigations on a variety of subjects, including real estate fraud and property insurance. As an editor, he helped lead the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to numerous national awards including its first Pulitzer in 2011 for a series on Florida property insurance. He joined the Tampa Bay Times last year and leads the newspaper’s investigative team. Mr. Davis grew up in South Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina. He lives with his wife in the Sarasota area.

Aaron Kessler

Aaron Kessler is a staff writer covering international corruption for 100Reporters, an investigative journalism nonprofit started by several veterans of The New York Times. He has spent nearly a decade investigating a range of subjects — from financial crimes and corporate fraud to government abuses at the local, state and federal levels. As a business reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Kessler conducted a multi-year investigation of contaminated Chinese drywall, which has wreaked havoc in thousands of U.S. homes. He has twice been a finalist for American business journalism’s highest honor, the Gerald Loeb Award, and has won numerous national and regional awards, including from the Society of American Business Editors & Writers and the Society of Environmental Journalists. His work was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, and was also named a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Kessler has previously reported for the Detroit Free Press, Charlottesville Daily Progress and Joplin Globe, and his investigative work  has also appeared in the Kansas City Star and Richmond Times-Dispatch.



Marty Steffens

Marty Steffens is SABEW Chair in Business Journalism at the University of Missouri.  She worked in the newspaper industry for 30 years, heading up many in-depth and investigative projects. Projects she edited helped change federal laws on military air crashes involving civilians, and court challenges she spearheaded opened family court records in New York.  She worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dayton Daily News, Minneapolis Star, Evansville Courier and St. Paul Pioneer Press. She was executive editor of the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin and San Francisco Examiner.   She’s led coverage of all types of disasters, from fires to flash floods  and is the co-author of  Reporting Disaster on Deadline (Routledge 2012).  She has trained journalists in more than 18 countries, weathering a typhoon in Hong Kong and domestic terrorism in Moscow.

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