First, I just want to remind you that calories don't count at IRE or any conference.
Second, a bit about my qualifications for writing this: I grew up about five miles from where the conference is taking place. The list of reasons I am not qualified is much longer: I haven't lived in Phoenix for seven years, so I really don't know what's new. I generally like large quantities of food, and don't care how good it tastes. I often like restaurant food at the same time others don't like the same restaurant food. And I am generally horrible at writing food reviews. All this said, I know how important food is to my fellow journalists, so I offer you here my unqualified opinion of the best food options in North Phoenix during the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference, 2017 #IRE17.
What this list includes:
Restaurants not at the hotel but within a few miles.
Generally more "local" places (although I realize some are chains).
Please do not try to walk to these places in 115 degrees, you will die. But also good luck calling an Uber in North Phoenix.
List not meant to be comprehensive (see qualifications above).
Coffee! (where the locals go)
Drive-thru: Dutch Bros, 20795 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 OR 6235 E Bell Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
This is literally the most Phoenix place you can go. You must get a flavored iced tea at least one time or you did not fully have the Phoenix experience.
Sit-down: Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf, 20235 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85024
Good but far: Cartel, 7124 E 5th Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Good bagels: Einstein Bros, 21001 N Tatum Blvd #80, Phoenix, AZ 85050
For hipsters: Tryst Cafe, 21050 N Tatum Blvd #108, Phoenix, AZ 85050
A hardy meal: Egg N' Joe (caveat: haven't tried it, but heard it's good) 23271 N Scottsdale Rd a101, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
A bit farther but good: Snooze, 15054 N Scottsdale Rd 110 D18, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 OR Eggstacy, 6990 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254, OR Breakfast Kitchen Bar and Perk (featured on diners drives ins and dives), 15147 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 U.S. Egg, 402 E Greenway Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85022
Lunch when you have the whole break
Local tradition: Islands, 21001 N. Tatum Boulevard #36, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Pizza: Mellow Mushroom, 5350 E High St #115, Phoenix, AZ 85054 OR Humble Pie, 21050 N Tatum Blvd #110, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Pita Jungle, 20910 N Tatum Blvd #140, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Lunch when you're in a rush
Burgers (IMHO better than Shake Shack or Five Guys): In-N-Out 21001 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050 (Note: Lines can be LONG!)
Subs: Firehouse subs, 5450 E High St, Phoenix, AZ 85054
Fast-food tacos (don't blame me if something goes wrong): Del Taco, 16649 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85032 OR Los Betos, 3217 E Greenway Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032
Mexican: Carlos O'Briens: 7000 E Mayo Blvd #21, Phoenix, AZ 85054
Mexican (but you go for the fun bar): Sandbar, 21001 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Best bar: Yard House, 21001 N Tatum Blvd #48, Phoenix, AZ 85050 OR Four Peaks: 15745 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Asian: Kona Grill, 5310 E High St #101, Phoenix, AZ 85054
$$$: Benihana, 16403 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 OR White Chocolate Grill,7000 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85054
A little farther, but worth it: Oregano's (Pizza) 4602 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032 OR Postino (wine!), 7030 E Greenway Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 OR Brio (Italian), 15301 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 OR The Mission, 7122 E Greenway Pkwy, Ste 140, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
If you have another restaurant to list, or if I'm really wrong about something, just leave a note in the comments!
I am honored to have been named a fellow for the 2016-2017 Paul Miller Washington Fellowship out of the National Press Foundation. The fellowship is for reporters who are new to covering D.C. It's basically a crash course (once a month from September to May) in reporting about the federal government in all its glory - Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House, the budget, etc.
It's perfect for me, as while I've lived in this region for six years now, this job at Stateline is the first time I'm working in D.C. and covering national news. I still feel a bit out of place in the city, and if there's one thing I get out of this, hopefully I will at least feel a little more comfortable walking around in historical marble buildings with layers of security.
I can't wait to meet the other fellows. This is just another experience I never thought I would get to have. I feel thankful and blessed for this opportunity.
I went to the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in New Orleans a few weeks ago. Turns out, the Big Easy isn't as restful as its nickname might suggest. The place sleeps almost as little as Las Vegas. It was quite a show. And while what happens in Vegas should stay there, what happened at #IRE16 should not.
@AlisonAnnYoung: When working on a project, create a spreadsheet and use it to track "Hey Martha!” moments in your reporting -- great findings, examples of key issues, names of sources on key topics you may want to talk to closer to when you write. Her tipsheet.
@DavidHo's 50 Apps in 30 minutes presentation is killer. I have an Android so I took notes based on that. Here's what I told myself to check out later: Goodreader to open PDFs and Word docs on your phone. Audio Note and Cogi for recording. Dragon Dictation is the closest thing to magic that exists for journalists. Buffer and Nuzzle for tweets. Voice Record Pro or Smart Voice Recorder - because the regular phone recorder just doesn't cut it. Prompt Smart Pro for a sweet teleprompter. Pocket to read news stories offline. Camscanner and Prismo for scanning docs with phone.
Look at these great resources for investigative reporters going solo. (List on Page 2.)
@HBerkes: "If they say they're enforcing it, make them prove it." I attended an amazing session on how to report out stories regarding government's failure to enforce laws. Do yourself a favor and click to read this fascinating, terrifying story. And then read this one. And some great tips of the trade, here.
If you're interested in #dataviz or data analysis, you should be following @dataeditor and @Rob_Barry. And UGH, @MeghanHoyer, I wish you were around to teach me your tricks when I was first learning data. Click here for Meghan's Excel tipsheet and thank me and her later for saving you hours. And if that wasn't enough, I was later grateful enough to get in another Excel session with @sdoig, who is, quite literally, the King of Excel for Journalists. If you're wondering how to analyze data on a basic level, here's what you need to get started.
Seafood from slaves. Just click it.
For behind-the-scenes from the movie Spotlight, here's an overview of the IRE Spotlight panel written by @EHenderson_TV, who I sat next to on the floor in the packed room.
And all you statehouse/congressional reporters: Did you know about this? LOL.
But you know the best part of all of this? I actually walked away with two story ideas. One that I'm working on now, thanks to @ailworth. And one other that is soon TK.
p.s. If you're thinking, dang, Jen, that summary was pretty horrible. Well, here are some tip sheets you can D/L on your own.
With the primary election coming up in Montgomery County, I realized something recently. I didn't know where to read about local candidates. We no longer have a local newspaper.
It's the first statewide election day since The Gazette closed this summer. Leading up to the election, there have been very few county-specific candidate profiles, campaign finance stories and issue pieces, and, really, not much of anything. I mean, thank goodness Bethesda magazine increased its coverage of Montgomery County in the last year. There is also My McMedia, which is well done, but funded by the government. And there is the League of Women Voters Guide, which is great for election basics, if nothing else. There is also the Post and The Sun's coverage of the U.S. Senate and congressional races, but I haven't seen much from them that has been more local than that. (Here's one Post piece with Montgomery County school board candidates). (Correct me if I'm missing anything.)
The new gaps in coverage are pretty terrifying, considering how congressional, school board and court races are being decided - not to mention those increasingly-important convention delegates, which never seemed to matter before. (Wouldn't a neat story be looking at local undecided delegates, and finding out who they will support?) It made me think whether the outcome of the primary would have been different had there been reporters assigned to vet the background of each candidate, examine their record and donations, and ask them hard questions about how they would do what they say they are going to do.
It also made me think about how much of my knowledge of local government and education policy I have already lost. And that made me realize, if I don't know what's going on - when I'm the kind of person who tries to keep a tab on things - then many, many other people probably don't know, either.
And if that's the case, then what really could be going on, without anyone ever knowing?
(and something more personal)
I had only lived in the D.C. area for 12 days and had only worked as a full-time newspaper reporter for four when I was sent out to cover my first election, on Nov. 2, 2010. I drove out on dark, unfamiliar roads around 6:30 a.m. to my assigned polling place in rural Damascus, Maryland, arriving just before the polls opened. I had the names of all of the races, candidates and their affiliations scribbled in my notebook. I had no idea who they were, or where I was, but I was so ready to go. I stood outside the polling place, smiled, and waited.
A half hour later, and my notebook looked about the same, but my enthusiasm did not. I had forgotten that people have much better things to do than talk to a reporter, especially when they're rushing to vote before heading to work. Especially a reporter who acted as timid as I did. (Also, I was cold. I had just moved from Arizona. I didn't own a winter coat. It was 32 degrees that morning. I know, because my pen only worked sometimes - this is the day I learned to always bring pencils.) When I did convince a few people to talk to me, I forgot to ask how old they were, and their political affiliation. I even got one of the candidate's first names wrong when asking someone who they voted for. Later that day, I threw together a scrappy story that my *amazing* editor mostly rewrote. It was my first political story.
That day was absolutely terrifying for me. But looking back, I see it was just the start of so many new and exciting (and equally terrifying) experiences that I have had since moving out here. Tomorrow is the first election day in five and a half years I won't be covering at the local or state level. It will be hard for me to not be in a newsroom. But I wish everyone who is good fun, and good pizza.