With thousands of soldiers headed home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the government “safety net” for veterans, which already has proven to be inadequate, is being strained far beyond its capacity. Tens of thousands of young men and women who put their lives on the line for their country are facing innumerable problems and challenges. Many are impoverished, homeless, severely mentally ill, a danger to themselves and others and in desperate need of services of all sorts.
Holding government – at the federal and state level – accountable for providing these veterans with the help they need is one of the most important tasks for reporters in 2012 and beyond. To do that, journalists need to understand the web of bureaucracies responsible for providing services to veterans, monitor whether they’re delivering on their promises and bring to light their failures.
What you’ll learn:
How the VA works. An in-depth understanding of this complex bureaucracy and how to get crucial information.
Who in Congress and the executive branch monitors the VA’s effectiveness?
Is the VA capable of delivering the quality health care — especially mental health treatment — returning soldiers will need?
What information/data is available for reporters to answer those key questions?
Which laws and programs – state and federal – are working and which ones aren’t when it comes to providing help for veterans at a time when our economy is struggling?
Computer-Assisted Reporting techniques. How to get beyond the anecdotal and dive into the bureaucratic maze to figure out what’s wrong with the VA system.
How to take your reporting several notches up the ladder of watchdog journalism.
How to present your stories on multi-media platforms.
You’ll also get an overview of some of the best reporting on this topic and take home a list of story ideas you can immediately begin working on for your news outlet.
To participate in this training you’ll need to secure an agreement from your editor that he/she will meet with you after the workshop to discuss a plan for coverage of veterans issues and provide you the time to apply the skills you’ve learned.
James Dao – National correspondent for The New York Times covering military and veterans affairs. The beat has taken him from Fort Jackson to cover the first woman to become the Army’s top drill sergeant; to Fort Sill to write about aging Army recruits in basic training; and to Afghanistan to report on American troops in Operation Enduring Freedom. He has also profiled Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki and written extensively on post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mark Horvit – Executive Director of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors). Mark became IRE’s executive director in January 2008. A longtime IRE member and native of Texas, Horvit most recently served as projects editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His journalism career includes reporting and editing duties at The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.), Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times, The Houston Post, Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer before joining the Star-Telegram, where he worked both as a reporter and an editor.
Al Tompkins – The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. For almost 10 years, thousands of people a day read his online journalism story idea column “Al’s Morning Meeting” on Poynter.org. Tompkins is the author of the book “Aim For The Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters,” which was adopted by more than 75 universities as their main broadcast writing textbook. He co-authored four editions of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation’s “Newsroom Ethics” workbook. Tompkins joined Poynter’s faculty from his job as news director at WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tenn. For 24 years, he worked as a photojournalist, reporter, producer, anchor, assistant news director, special projects/investigations director, documentary producer and news director.
Other faculty will include representatives from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the US Veterans Administration.
Who Should Attend?
Reporters, bloggers and citizen journalists with a desire to provide in-depth, insightful coverage of the myriad of issues impacting Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
When: March 5-7, 2012
Where: The New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University
Apply by: February 20, 2012
Tuition, Hotel, Meals and Travel: Underwritten by a generous grant from The McCormick Foundation
Note – This program is only open to journalists reporting in the United States.