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Webinar: Investigating Public Pensions

December 4, 2012 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


This is a free webinar presented by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism

Investigating Public Pensions: Online, Dec. 4

Pew Center on the States pension underfunding

In fiscal 2009, 31 states (shown in blue) were below the 80 percent funded level that indicates a well-funded state pension system, according to the Pew Center on the States.

A $1.26 trillion gap.

That’s what exists between what the states have promised their current and retired workers in retirement benefits and what they have on hand to pay for them, according to a 2011 report by the Pew Center on the States.

Arizona Republic senior reporter Craig Harris set out to find out how the gap played out in Arizona’s public pensions. His resulting series won the Gold Award in the 2011 Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism, as well as the Toner Prize for political reporting.

Harris will explain how you can dig into your state’s public pensions, too, during the free, hourlong webinar, “Investigating Public Pensions.” Register here.

The Reynolds Center’s sponsored conference session at IRE, “Investigating Public Pensions,” also features Harris’ public pensions project.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to uncover abuses in public pension systems.
  • How to spot red flags in an unhealthy public pension system.
  • Why unhealthy pension systems are a drain to taxpayers and should concern public employees.
  • How to win battles filing public records requests on pension records.
  • How to deal with a guaranteed backlash from public employee unions, their members (and their spouses).
  • How “to do the math” so readers understand how public pensions work.
  • How to organize a pension series with impact and do quick-hit daily stories.
  • And more, including how to translate pension jargon into understandable terms.

Who Should Take this Course

Reporters and editors who are interested in tackling a public pension investigation. Someone in the news organization needs to have a basic understanding of Excel spreadsheets and computer-assisted reporting. The Knight Digital Media Center has this comprehensive series on basic Excel training. The Centre for Investigative Journalism at City University London offers a handbook on data journalism. The Reynolds Center also has self-guided training called, Be a Better Business Watchdog — CAR for Business Journalists. as well as a workshop on the topic in Missoula, Mont., on Oct. 6.

The Particulars

Instructor: Craig Harris, senior reporter at The Arizona Republic

Location: Online

When: Dec. 4, Noon or 4 p.m. ET

Register for this free webinar.

Your Instructor

Craig Harris, reporter, The Arizona Republic

Check out Harris’ behind-the-scenes essay on how he got the story that led to award-winning coverage for The Arizona Republic. Harris also offers investigative tips for other journalists.

For more information on public pensions, review these materials on Poynter.org from SABEW’s public pensions seminar last year.

First-time attendees

Check out our Technology Help Page for connectivity requirements, helpful tips and an instructional video on how to access Reynolds Center Webinars.

About the Program

This webinar is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. If you have any questions about the center’s training, please email Executive Director Linda Austin or call 602-496-9187 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            602-496-9187     end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


December 4, 2012
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:




Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism
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