All Resources from the McCormick Foundation's Specialized Reporting Institutes

Covering Water in a Changing World

Undrinkable water, severe drought or unprecedented flooding; conflicts over water rights ... Water issues touch every aspect of daily life and therefore are relevant to all areas of journalism.

This specialized reporting institute funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation was designed to offer journalists and weather broadcasters who report on water issues and the impact of climate change exposure to key issues.

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Fresh Angles: Covering Disability within Education, Employment, Healthcare and Housing

In an age of budget battles and cuts to social services, this Specialized Reporting Institute takes a look at the impact of those cuts on some of society's most vulnerable citizens: people with disabilities. Access Living and ADA 25 joined The Poynter Institute to present a two-day workshop to give journalists the knowledge and skills to create engaging and powerful journalism on this topic. The focus was on potential budget cuts in Illinois and their impact on key social services for people with disabilities, but the issues resonate in communities across the United States.

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Nominating a President 2016: How to Cover the Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa Caucuses are the first official chance for voters to weigh in on the presidential candidates, garnering a huge amount of media attention for the state and its residents. Some journalists spend weeks or months getting to know the voters, issues and candidates in Iowa. Resources on this page will help journalists to cover this key political contest thoroughly and effectively.

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Race, Police and Community Coverage

Baltimore is only the latest city to face charges of police violence and massive demonstrations and violent reactions to the death of an African-American during an encounter with police officers.

How can journalists cover these events, providing a national as well as local perspective, and maintain a balanced, fair approach to coverage? What are the most common problems and what solutions show promise? How does race affect policing, relationships between community members and police, and national opinion?

The resources on this page will get you started.

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Covering the U.S. Visa System in Your Own Backyard

Immigration reform, the U.S. visa system, how to handle the immigrants already here and those who attempt to enter the U.S. every day — these are already hotly debated topics, and the discussion is likely to only become more intense as the 2016 election campaigns get going.

Many journalists don't know where to start in coverage of this complex topic and its many associated issues and conflicts.

This resource page provides information and links that will help journalists jump start their coverage of immigration, visas and related topics.

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Covering Infectious Disease

As the fear of the Ebola virus consumes the U.S. and dominates the media, how can journalists sort out science from scare tactics and produce factual pieces that educate their audience — acknowledging but not pandering to the fears of the public and the politicians?

The Poynter Institute took a leading role in responding to the Ebola crisis, evaluating media coverage and providing guidance for accurate, science-based, ethical journalism.

This resource page provides journalists with a starting point for solid coverage of Ebola and other infectious diseases.

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Reporting on Suicide and Mental Health Issues

Suicide is a serious and preventable public health problem that claims thousands of lives each year, without regard to age, education, social standing, race, or gender. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans, the second leading cause of death for adults ages 25-34, and the third leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24.

How can journalists cover this challenging and important topic in a sensitive, accurate, and thorough manner?

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Covering the Common Core

As the Common Core educational standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) are phased in around the country, the issue of whether schools should use them has become increasingly politicized and controversial. What is a journalist to do?

The Poynter Institute and the Education Writers Association joined forces to produce a Specialized Reporting Institute, held in Chicago in June 2014, to provide journalists with the resources and knowledge to cover this important issue. The workshop was funded by the [Robert R.

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Fueling Investigative Reporting for 2014 Elections

As we enter the 2014 Midterm Election season, investigative reporters and other journalists will need to sniff out the connections and influences that political donors have on candidates and the prominence of various issues, as well as on the public's awareness and knowledge of a variety of hot-button issues.

This resource page points journalists toward online resources, such as to compare political donor influence across states and election cycles and across levels of government.

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Covering the Regulation of Shale Gas and Oil Development in the U.S.

Energy policy and developments are always big news, but not always well understood. For example, the process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," a process that extracts shale gas or oil, is an energy-related topic that is frequently in the news but not always clearly explained.

The Society of Environmental Journalists hosted a two-day Specialized Reporting Institute to guide reporters on the complex legal framework and policy debates surrounding shale gas and oil development.

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