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How Not to Be Bamboozled by Local Economic Studies: Self-guided training

Photo by Flickr user Jordan MacDonald

The two-day webinar, “How Not to be Bamboozled by Local Economic Studies,” took place Feb. 8-9, 2012. | At the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to complete the self-guided training.

This free training gives you the tools and techniques to read economic studies with a critical eye. You’ll learn the sources used by economists, how they can pump or diminish the results, and rules of thumb you can use on the fly to help you ask better questions.


The first session covers the basics of economic studies with two case study examples. Live attendees were given a homework assignment (available below), which was discussed during the second part of the training.

Both sessions are based on case studies. Attendees were given a range of examples and encouraged to pick out strengths and weaknesses.

Sarah Cohen, Knight Chair of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University

Sarah Cohen


Sarah Cohen joined Duke University as its Knight journalism chair in 2009 after 15 years as a reporter and editor, primarily with investigative teams at The Washington Post. She has shared in the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Goldsmith Prize and other national awards.

Prior to the Post, Cohen covered local economics for the St. Petersburg Times and The Tampa Tribune, building on more than a decade of experience as an economist in Washington. She was elected to the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors in 2010.


  • Key questions to ask sources about their studies
  • How to spot pumped-up estimates
  • Sources to do your own analysis instead


You can view the PowerPoints by clicking on the links below. To download and print them, you may be asked to sign up for a free account at a third-party vendor, Slideshare, or you can download them as PDFs.

The latest version of Adobe Flash is required to view the webinar recordings. You can download the latest version of Flash for free here.

Session Recordings

Please see Agenda above.

PowerPoint Presentations

Additional Resources (PDFs)


In Self-guided and archives.

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