A firehose of knowledge blasted through a garden sprinkler

This year’s NICAR conference will feature lightning talks: a series of rapid-fire presentations given by you on a mix of subjects selected by you. It’s called democracy, folks, and we want you to be part of it.

How does this work? It’s simple: Register an account to vote on the talks you’d like to hear. Or better yet, propose one yourself! It can be on technology or techniques — just about anything, really. There’s just one rule: It can’t be one second longer than 5 minutes.

OK, actually two rules: You must attend NICAR to vote or, obviously, give a talk. But that’s about all there is to it.

If you have questions, or problems with the site, drop an email to aron@nytimes.com.

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Investigation in absence of "Access to Information Laws"

It is very hard nut to crack to do investigative journalism in countries where there is no such laws relate to "Access to Information"---which could otherwise could be a vital source for reporters to obtain officials documents. In these countries either laws don't exist or implementation on them remains a pipe dream. So, which tools journalists can use to dig out investigative stories ? Pakistan is a bright example of aforementioned dilemma. Any Suggestion?

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Freelancers

How do you do investigative reporting without a newsroom behind you (and a salary supporting you)? Challenges and opportunities.

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Web scraping made easier with Helium

Grab data from the web without being bogged down with coding. Helium can help make web-scraping less messy for us all. But you can only learn by doing. That's why this is a hands-on offering. We reprise the IRE staff presentation of early Friday morning.

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Local Public Employee Salaries: Requesting and analyzing public payroll

Employee costs are often the largest portion of the expenses of any public agency, but it's also often very difficult to obtain and analyze. Well we've been collecting public employee salary and benefit data in California, from the state down to tiny cemetery districts, since 2008 and we will tell you our secrets. Who gets deferred compensation? Who doesn't pay into their own pensions? What part time workers and officials get full-time level health benefits? We will give you the rundown on the new edition, just live on Friday, of our Public Employee Salary Database (www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2013) as well as our new story on excessive overtime (http://www.mercurynews.com/salary-survey/ci_26047884/overtime-costs-at-bay-area-governments-soar-since). Who's the $420,000 fire fighter? How did a cop manage to get 2,400 hours of overtime in one year?

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Scanner Wars: U.S. vs. Ukraine

So you want to be an investigative reporter? You want the glamour? You want this life. Armed with scanners, we'll show you what it takes to dig into the bowels of a government agency. Meet our new reality TV show: "Scanner Wars" starring Tammy, Julie, Scott, Jen and Katharine with guest appearances from Stephen. Our competition: A bunch of kick-ass journalists from Ukraine who rescued documents in the midst a revolution.

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The freelance dilemma: how to get your investigative story made

If you're a freelance journalist with a dynamite story idea, how do you know who you can trust with it and how much you should reveal? How do you pay to get the investigation off the ground and how do you indemnify yourself against law suits? If you're a commissioning editor, how much would you expect the freelancer to tip their hand and how much would they have to develop the story on their own dime? We'd like to get a good conversation going...freelancers and commissioning editors, come with your suggestions and success stories.

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More Investigative Interview Tips and Tactics with Julian Sher

When is the best time to trip the wire and request that tough accountability interview ? How do you prepare? How do you conduct yourself during a hard, at times uncomfortable interview? What to dare to do and what to avoid. In our Thursday morning session on Mastering The Investigative Interview, we saw lots of examples of great questions and painful mistakes, but we ran out of time and people had plenty of other issues to debate. So this is our chance to dig deeper. With Julian Sher, senior producer of Canada's premier investigative TV show The Fifth Estate and author of six investigative books.

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Tilling the Fields of Agrbusiness: You should do this. Here's why and how.

From food poisoning outbreaks to corporate food to environmental contamination to the rising issue of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 - agribusiness plays a role in much of our daily lives. Find out about the great stories not being covered. The session will offer keys to documents, human sources and data you can use. Join expert journalists from the Midest Center for Investigative Reporting, the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, Harvest Public Media and Kansas City Public Television, including Mike McGraw, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Propaganda war in Ukraine and the danger for journalists

While the war in the east of the Ukraine is accelerating the propaganda war has been going on for month. Russian media is accusing the Ukraine authorities of a "genocid against the Russian people" and the U.S. and the EU of supporting "facists" while there is very few reliable information. The need for investigative journalism has become bigger than ever. Working as a correspondent in the Eastern Ukraine, especially in Donetsk and Lugansk, has become almost impossible. After reporting from Kiev and Donetsk in the last couple of months I regard an additional session on this issue as a beneficial and important add on. It would be great to have somebody from Russia Today on the panel as well a reporter from the Ukraine (if here) and of the Organized Crime and Corruption network.

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Proposed by Zahid Gishkori from Pakistan: Censorship & Militancy marring true spirit of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. "Find an opportunity in Crisis of Investigative Journalism"

Have we ever discussed how "Censorship & Militancy" marred true spirit of Investigative Journalism in South Asian Countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran? The constitutions of these states guarantee "Press Freedom" but there is no implementation on these laws as journalists are being forced to leave their countries since decades. No journalist can expose the wrong doings of military and intelligence agencies and big politicians, if he or she does so then they are forced to leave the country or to brace the bullet. For example, three senior journalists recently left the country after they were attacked allegedly either by the Spy agencies or the military militants. More than 87 journalists have been killed in Pakistan in last 20 years. Pakistani laws limits Censorship but in reality no one write on several issues like blasphemy as well as on rights on minorities like Christian, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmedis, etc. Yes, there are some restriction in laws in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan or public order or morality. Democratically elected government have recently suspended transmission of two leading television channels due to their open criticism on Army and the government. Militants have also forced journalists to leave country if they fail to get published their view point in newspapers. So, Press freedom in Pakistan is limited by official censorship that restricts critical reporting and by the high level of violence against journalists. The armed forces, the judiciary, and religion are topics that frequently attract the government's attention. Same story is with Iran and Afghanistan, where Press don't have such freedom to write freely and independently. Hence, it has several pro-Muslim laws in their Constitutions. Freedom House painted a gloomy picture of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. So, in such circumstances, the concept of Investigative Reporting seems useless in these countries. If we journalists expose mega scandals, human rights issues and large exodus of minorities from Pakistan, it has become a litmus test for us to avoid this censorship. So, there should be debate on how "Investigative Reporting is possible under sword of Censorship and Militancy in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran"?

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Managing your manager and wrangling your calendar

Do you have great ideas but feel stymied by management? Are you brimming with great investigations but feel you don't have the time? I have a few tips on how to manage your manager and tame that calendar so you can get more work done. (There might also be tips for managers, not that I've been one.) This session is geared toward people who write anywhere from several stories per week to several per day. You know who you are.

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Help shape FOIA reform & join the #FOIAFriday community

What can be done to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act? We have a chance to set the agenda of the newly formed FOIA Modernization Advisory Committee. The group, which met for the first time this week, includes one of our own: IRE member Andrew Becker. We are working together to solicit and collect as much input on the administration of FOIA as possible. The goal: To boost the influence journalists have on the committee, chiefly composed of government employees. The committee is the most significant conduit for change to open records laws since the FOIA was enacted in 1966. It’s mission is to “improve the administration of the law.” The agency that oversees this group, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), works to help requesters like you solve FOIA-related issues. A representative of OGIS is aware of our efforts and will be at the conference with her notebook ready. Are fees your biggest roadblock to information? Blanket redactions? Response time? Something else? Let’s decide together. Join us this Saturday, June 28 at 4:50 pm to be a part of the discussion. Don't let reform happen without you. Steering the committee’s direction isn’t all we’re doing. This is also a chance for you to join the growing #FOIAFriday community. More than a hashtag, #FOIAFriday is a space to share tips, ask for advice and coordinate efforts to improve access to public information. From New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to California’s Public Records Act (CPRA) and everything in between, we’ve got you covered. Leading the discussion Saturday will be journalists Ellen Gabler and Djordje Padejski, and attorney Duffy Carolan. Gabler’s award-winning story for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on deadly delays in newborn screening programs drew heavily from data obtained via records requests filed around the country. Padejski founded FOIA Machine, an online platform that automates FOIA requests and helps journalists keep track of documents. Carolan is a lawyer with extensive experience representing journalists seeking information via state and federal open records laws. All will share tips from their experience obtaining, litigating and fighting for public records.

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