2011 Woodglen Cres.
1992-1995: Taught broadcasting to second-year students. The focus on the course was the importance of solid research, writing for broadcast and telling good stories.
2004-present: Teach research methods – Journalism 5206 — to master of journalism students. They learn how to file federal access-to-information, as well as provincial and municipal freedom-of-information requests. In addition, they acquire other skills such as reading forms publicly traded companies must file with securities regulators, computer-assisted reporting and historical research at National Library and Archives. They use my textbook, Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide. For more information on the course, please feel free to visit:
2004-2007: Taught computer-assisted reporting to third-year undergraduate students. This mandatory four-week course was part of an analytical reporting section that stressed the need to consume the news critically. They learned how to use the Internet more efficiently, how to enhance their numeracy skills, and how to use Excel to crunch numbers on everything from police statistics to election campaign finances.
2008-2009: Developed an investigative reporting program for fourth-year students. During the year-long course that built towards year-end projects where the students produced stories for all platforms, they learned how to file access-to-information and freedom-of-information requests, search for public records, and improve their interviewing and writing skills.
2009-2010: Taught an introductory course — JOURNALISM 2201B — to second-year students. This is their first real taste of journalism. As such, the year-long course covers the gamut, ranging from learning the difference between a topic and a story, finding stories, conducting interviews, the basics of good writing for all platforms and the essential elements of storytelling. Towards the end of the year, once they have acquired the necessary skills, the students spent three consecutive classes functioning as newsrooms, where assignment editors, copy editors and reporters used six-hour blocks of class time to produce a publication using Microsoft Publisher. The finished product was posted on my syllabus. This is a foundation course that all second-year students must take, as it sets them up for the rest of their courses at Carleton.
2013-Present: Developed and teach a data-journalism class for fourth-year undergraduates and graduates
2008-Present: Help run a week-long data-journalism course at the University of King’s College in Halifax.
2006-2016: Taught computer-assisted reporting to second-year students. During the 15-week course, the students acquire advanced Internet search techniques that include finding people, searching websites more efficiently, locating public records such as annual reports, coroners’ reports, and court records. They also learn how to use Excel to pull data from the Internet and sort the fields containing numbers and text using computer-assisted reporting techniques such as pivot tables. When using this data to tell stories, they learn how to think more critically about numbers. In the Fall of 2009, some of the students teamed up with The Ottawa Citizen and the Chronicle Herald in Halifax to map out where the millions of dollars in federal stimulus dollars were going. The students spent weeks pulling the data from the government’s website, putting the figures into Excel, and then allocating the projects to ridings in order to determine how much of the money was going to Conservatives. The effort resulted in stories in both papers, which won the Canadian Association of Journalists 2010 award for computer-assisted reporting. The students use my textbook, Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Comprehensive Primer.
University of British Columbia
2006-2015: I’ve been a guest lecturer at the UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism for a week in the spring, where I teach the students investigative research a techniques using Internet research and computer-assisted reporting. The students use Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide.
2006-2007: Was the external supervisor for Darcy-Anne Wintonyk’s thesis on the relationship between national security and open government at Transport Canada. To conduct her research, Darcy-Anne used my website that contains data from the federal Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS).
University of King’s College
2004-2006: Was a guest lecturer, teaching the students investigative research techniques such as computer-assisted reporting. The mini-course contained two parts: a lecture that introduced the students to computer-assisted reporting and some of the reasons why journalists learn the skills. We saw, listened to and read stories that were produced using computer-assisted reporting methods. In the second and more practical portion of the course, the students used these techniques to produce stories on topics such as workplace safety and crime as part of their investigative reporting assignment.
2007-2015: Work with assistant professor, Fred Vallance-Jones, to run a week-long computer-assisted reporting boot camp for journalists. They learn how to use Excel, the database manager program, Access, and open-source software that allows them to map certain trends such as Nova Scotia’s gambling hot spots. The students also learn how to pull the data together and tell compelling stories. Storytelling is emphasized because they must learn that it’s pointless to do all the work to collect data if the effort leads to boring stories that everyone ignores. The students use Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Comprehensive Primer.
2011-Present: Was appointed to be an adjunct professor in the new master’s program at the University of King’s College school of journalism. I have designed a summer course called Public Records Research. This course will teach students how to locate, obtain and read public records with an investigative mindset. Students will learn to probe public records to uncover connections and patterns of information that might be invisible reading any one record alone. Students will learn how public records fit into a complete research strategy with the aim of telling original and breaking stories. The course will cover tools such as Freedom of Information requests, as well as legal rights to specific types of information and key depositories of public records such as documents and electronic databases. The course will show students how to think laterally about these records, find journalistically-relevant information in records created for other purposes, and connect information found in different types of records using other investigative methods.
2008-2009: Was a guest lecturer in an investigative reporting class, where I talked about a joint investigation with the Toronto Star on food safety in the wake of the listeriosis crisis in the summer of 2008 that led to the largest food recall in Canadian history, resulting in the death of 23 people.
Thompson Rivers University
2007-2008: During a two-day course, I taught the professors how to teach investigative techniques. They learned the basics of Excel, and then a number of practical sessions they could teach using data sets including federal election contribution data. They learned how the data could be separated by ridings in the immediate area in order to determine which candidates received the highest number of corporate donations ( which were still legal back then ) compared to individual donations. Such knowledge would help in choosing which candidates to profile for the school newspaper.
La Cité Collégial:
2008-2009: Through two, half-day sessions, the students mined the Internet for public records, and downloaded data from the Ontario government’s public sector salary disclosure registry. After importing the data into Excel, they filtered the information by categories, including universities and colleges, allowing them to identify and count the number of teachers at the college earning more than 100-thousand dollars a year. The sessions were conducted in French.
Service to the profession
2014-Present: Led a weekend data journalism boot camp at Carleton University.
2009: Was a judge for the investigative category for the Canadian University Press’s national awards competition.
2010: Was a screener for the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Television category below top 20 markets category.
2012: Was a judge for the National Newspaper Association Columns category.
2014: Was a screener for the 2013 Investigative Reporters and Editors mutliplatform – small category
2016: Was a judge for the Investigative Reporters and Editors Philip Meyer Award.
Other work experience
1995-present: Editor of Media, magazine of the Canadian Association of Journalists.
2005-present: Maintain a website that tracks federal access-to-information requests and am in the process of migrating it to my WordPress site.
2007-2008: Trained journalists at business publications for Transcontinental in Montreal. The journalists learned how to access information from the federal government’s online proactive disclosure databases which track all contracts worth more than 10-thousand dollars. The day-long session was conducted in French.
2007-2009: Ran two, day-long workshops at The Vancouver Sun where the reporters learned how to use Excel and the database manager program, Access. The sessions led to front-page stories that same week on planes flying too close together at the Vancouver International Airport and the occupations that are most under threat in British Columbia.
Knowledge of software
Open-source mapping software for analyzing data and recognizing trends.
Excel for analyzing data and recognizing trends
Access for working with large data sets and creating relational databases.
MySQL and PostgreSQL for working with even larger datasets that Access can’t handle.
WordPress for laying out my course syllabi.
InDesign for laying out Media magazine for the Canadian Association of Journalists.
Photoshop for working with photos for Media magazine.
Wavelab for editing sound files for my radio stories.
DaletPlus for editing sound files for my radio stories.
Microsoft Publisher for laying out publications for produced by students in class.
Quantum GIS: Mapping program for Macs and PCs that can be downloaded for free.
ESRI Press’ ARCGIS products, including ARCMap ; ARCCatalogue.
Qgis: Open-source mapping program
Conferences, workshops and seminars
The Canadian Association of Journalists
2000-present: Trainer with the Canadian Association of Journalists. Conduct workshops at the CAJ’s annual conferences on research techniques on the Internet, access-to-information, storytelling, and computer-assisted reporting. Each fall, I conduct a day-long computer-assisted reporting boot camp for journalists who mainly come from the Ottawa area.
1998: Appeared on a CAJ panel that examined coverage of the military after the Somalia affair.
2001: St. John’s conference: An access-to-information workshop that lasted half a day.
2002: Ottawa conference: Day-long session on Access to Information.
2005: Winnipeg conference: Day-long workshop on computer-assisted reporting.
2006: Halifax conference: Day-long workshop on investigative techniques using the recently-published Digging Deeper as a guide.
2006: Halifax conference: A workshop on telling stories.
2007: Writer’s symposium in Moncton: Presented a workshop on storytelling.
2007: The CAJ’s global conference in Toronto: A morning workshop on computer-assisted reporting.
2007: The CAJ’s global conference in Toronto: An afternoon workshop on using advanced techniques to find information on the Internet.
2008: Edmonton conference: A panel on using advanced research techniques to locate information on the Internet.
2008: Edmonton conference: A day-long workshop on computer-assisted reporting.
2009: The Vancouver conference: A day-long workshop on computer-assisted reporting.
2009: The Vancouver conference: A panel discussion on covering pandemics.
2011: Ottawa conference: A panel discussion on covering health care and a hands-on session on using Excel to crunch data and discover trends that generate story ideas and stories.
2012: Toronto conference: A two-day, data-journalism workshop held at Ryerson University: Excel, Access, ArcMap, web scraping.
2013: Ottawa conference: A two-day, data-journalism workshop at Carleton University: Excel, Fusion Tables, ArcMap
2014: Canadian Association of Journalists’ annual conference in Vancouver. Taught a day-and-a-half data-journalism workshop ( Excel, Fusion Tables, ArcGIS).
2016: Canadian Association of Journalists’ annual conference in Edmontron. Ran workshops on Excel and ArcGIS Online.
The Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
2006-present: Trainer with the U.S.-based National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting and the Investigative Reporters and Editors. As part of their annual conferences, NICAR and the IRE conduct hands-on sessions for journalists across the United States who want to learn computer-assisted reporting skills using Excel and the database manager, Access, as well as other investigative techniques. In order to teach these sessions properly, it’s necessary to design lesson plans using real data on topics such as crime. Using simple formulas, the journalists learn how to determine crime rates for their cities and then compare their city to other municipalities in the United States.
2005: Conference in Denver: Was a panelist for a session on using computer-assisted reporting to investigate health stories.
2007: Conference in Phoenix: Participated on a panel about getting the most mileage out of computer-assisted-reporting investigations.
2007: Conference in Phoenix: Conducted a hands-on session teaching journalists to perform calculations and sort using Excel.
2008: Conference in Miami: Ran a boot camp on sorting and filtering using Excel.
2008: Conference in Miami: Took part in panel discussion about investigating the pharmaceutical industry.
2010: Conference in Las Vegas: Ran boot camp on using string functions in Excel to clean up data.
2010: Conference in Las Vegas: Took part in a panel discussion on covering the military.
2016: Was a just for the Investigative Reporters and Editors Philip Meyer Award.
National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR)
2009: Conference in Indianapolis: Took part in a panel that walked people through the steps of using workplace safety data to find stories. I worked with a dataset from Washington State.
2008: Conference in Houston: Ran a boot camp teaching journalists how to use Excel to calculate ratios and rates.
2008: Conference in Houston: Participated in a panel discussion on conducting investigations into health care, emphasizing specific methods for obtaining information on pharmaceutical companies.
2009: Conference in Indianapolis: Ran a boot camp on using the database manager program Access.
2011: Conference in North Carolina: led a hands-on session teaching participants how to group information using the database manager, Access.
2013 and 2016: Cross-border conference in Toronto: presentation on the evolution of data journalism; workshop on Google Fusion Tables
2002-present: I’m a trainer with the CBC, teaching journalists how to file access-to-information and freedom-of-information requests.
Access to Information
2006: Presented evidence to the May 30th House of Commons Legislative Committee on Bill C-2 that studied changes that, among other things, promised to introduce more accountability to government. My presentation covered necessary changes to the federal Access to Information regime that would lead to greater openness and a more effective law.
2006: Presented evidence to the September 20th meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that was also studying Bill C-2. I elaborated on my presentation to the Members of Parliament, stressing the need to make administrative changes to the Access to Information regime – such as hiring more staff — in order to ensure more success in obtaining records in a timely manner.
2009: Took part in panel discussion about using the federal Access-to-Information Act at a Right to Know conference organized by the office of the federal Information Commissioner.
2008: Delivered a speech on the challenges of using access to information at a conference organized by the Ontario privacy commissioner.
2008: Delivered a session on using federal access-to-information and provincial freedom-of-information laws to obtain data and inspection reports on accidents in the workplace at a conference sponsored by the B.C. Health Sciences Association.
2009: Participated in the Information Commissioner’s Right to Know week panel discussion on ways to use the Access to Information Act more efficiently.
2010: Participated in the Information Commissioner’s Right to Know week panel discussion on weaknesses of the act and how to encourage more journalists and students to use the law.
1982-1992: Freelance Journalist, print, broadcast, magazines
1992-present: Journalist with the CBC
1992-1996: Regional radio reporter with CBC Ottawa covering city hall.
1996-1997: Regional radio reporter with CBC Ottawa covering the federal government.
1997-2002: Seconded from the regional newsroom to work on special projects including an in-depth look at adverse drug reactions and workplace safety.
2002-2009: A member of the CBC’s investigative unit producing stories for all platforms: television, radio and print stories for online
2009-2010: Member of the CBC’s parliamentary bureau producing original and investigative stories for all platforms. I also have a weekly blog entitled Inside the Numbers.
2010:Present: Investigative producer with Power & Politics
Co-author of Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide 3rd Edition, published by Oxford University Press. Digging Deeper is in its second edition.
Co-author of Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Comprehensive Primer, published by Oxford University Press.
Co-author of a follow-up book to Computer-Assisted Reporting called The Data Journalist: Getting the Story published by Oxford University Press.
Co-authored Your Right To Privacy: Minimize Your Digital Footprint, a follow-up to Your Right to Know.
Contributed a chapter to Brokering Access, to be published by UBC Press. The book focuses on the access-to-information law. Brokering Access is due to be published in 2011.
Contributed a chapter on using Excel to find stories for a German-language textbook.
Was one of the subjects for Maxine Ruvinsky’s book Investigative Reporting in Canada published by Oxford University Press.
1978-1982: Bachelor of Journalism, Carleton University
1995-2001: Master of Journalism, Carleton University
2003: RTNDA award for coverage on corruption at the Joyceville Penitientiary.
2004: RTNDA award for coverage of a botched clinical trial at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario that led to the death of a four-year-old boy.
2005: The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) computer-assisted reporting (CAR) award for stories on adverse drug reactions and Health Canada’s failure to adequately warn Canadians about side effects affecting kids.
2005: The CAJ’s overall investigative award for the same story.
2005: Online News Association award for the same story.
2005: Michener nomination for the adverse drug reaction stories.
2006: The CAJ’s CAR award for continuing coverage on adverse drug reactions, this time an examination of the effects on seniors.
2006: The CAJ’s radio award for stories about seniors for whom adverse reactions led to serious injury or death.
2006: The CAJ’s overall award for the series. It was the first time that the same media outlet won the overall award for two consecutive years.
2006: The Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) award in the radio category for the series on seniors.
2006: The Canadian Medical Association’s in-depth health reporting award for radio for the series on seniors and drugs.
2007: The Canadian Medical Association award for health reporting for a series on workplace safety called Dying for a Job.
2008: The Registered Nursing Association of Ontario award for a series on violence against seniors in nursing homes.
2009: The Michener Award for a joint investigation between CBC News/Radio-Canada and the Canadian Press on the use of Tasers by the Mounties.
2010: A group of my Algonquin College computer-assisted reporting students shared the CAR award with The Ottawa Citizen and the Chronicle Herald in Halifax for a story on the federal government’s stimulus spending and the ridings that benefitted the most.
2011: Three of my Algonquin College students who interned with me at the CBC were finalists for the Canadian Association of Journalists’ student award for their stories about a negligent landlord that failed to repair the apartments in one of its buildings in a low-income Ottawa neighborhood. The students used the provincial freedom-of-information law to obtain the city’s building inspection data in order to identify landlords frequently cited for failing to do repairs and to provide services such as heat during the winter months.
I coach my daughters who play competitive soccer at the regional and provincial level. Cycling. Music and movies.