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Eight things I learned or remembered at #IRE15

I went to the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Philadelphia last week. Here are eight things I learned or remembered.

1. There are many cool ways of telling stories with Tableau Public.

I’ve used DataWrapper, Infogram and Fusion Tables. But I haven’t created anything with Tableau Public before. My plan is for that to change.

You can check out some cool uses of it at Tableau’s website.
2.) I am now part of Gannett.
Fellow YDR reporter Brett Sholtis got photographic proof.

3.) When you look for stories in data, you should explore “positive deviants — those who are getting better than expected outcomes.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Deadly Delays coverage is one example of why. Two other great examples are Education Lab and The New York Times’ Fixes blog.

4.) Running along the Schuylkill River is pretty cool.

The last time I ran in that area was probably for one of the Midnight Madness races. I am currently training for a June 28 half marathon in Harrisburg.

So on Friday night, I took a long run.

5.) You can use data visualizations and maps to find stories, not just tell them.
Alexandra Kanik of PublicSource shared some cool data on abandoned mines, nursing homes and hospitals. Her news organization used that kind of data for a story about the potential danger of crude oil derailments.

7.) Don’t just throw numbers at people. Tell stories.
The Fugitives Next Door coverage from USA TODAY and other Gannett news organizations is a great example of that.
Panels about “Getting great stories from hidden data sets” and “Humanizing Numbers” were good reminders about the importance of combining analysis with good storytelling.

8.) Conferences can be overwhelming. The people you meet there can be references for a long time after the conferences end.