The Art & Science of Comment Requests – NICAR 2017

Comment requests are a crucial part of any story. They’re even trickier when you’ve spent months analyzing data and collecting documents for an investigation and the subject of the story doesn’t want to cooperate.

I hosted a panel at the 2017 NICAR conference in Jacksonville about comment requests for data journalists, at which Rob Barry (Wall Street Journal), Sarah Ryley (The Trace) and I shared some tips for navigating these tricky situations. Among the things we discussed:

  • How do you maximize your chances of getting a meaningful response?
  • When to begin the process of requesting comment for a story?
  • What does a well-crafted comment request look like?
  • And what should you expect – and not expect – when you request comment for your story?

Here are my slides from the talk, which share some lessons I’ve learned from my experiences seeking comment.