RTDNA is hitting the road in 2024, with the support of the Google News Initiative, to bring training on digital tools for elections coverage to broadcast and digital newsrooms, as well as conferences and events, around the country - free of charge. The tools focus on mis- and disinformation, fact-checking and source verification, to name just a few. 


How It Works

It's simple: You request a training, we work with you to get it scheduled, and one of our RTDNA Trainers shows up ready to train! Sessions can be in person or virtual, range from one to three hours in length and can provide an overview of several Google tools or in-depth training on one specific Google tool. And, thanks to the support of the Google News Initiative, trainers are paid by us, so there's no cost to your newsroom. 

While RTDNA and Google provide the teaching talent and the tools, the host organization is responsible for:

  • Marketing of the training program to reach a maximum number of event attendees. For conferences or events, prime positioning in your program, with minimal concurrent programming, is encouraged. For newsrooms, work to get as many participants as possible when thinking about scheduling.
  • A location for the program that will hold all the participants with, ideally, table space for personal laptops.
  • An LCD projector/screen, laptop audio, Wi-Fi, and power.
  • Working with participants to ensure they complete a brief post-training online survey.
  • Good and timely communication should there be any change in schedule or things that we should know to make the training more successful.

We're In! Sign Us Up!


Our Trainers

Lead Trainer: Mike Reilley

Mike is a senior lecturer at the University of Illinois-Chicago and founder of JournalistsToolbox.ai, a free website featuring AI tools and training videos. He’s the author of two books: “Data + Journalism” (Routledge, 2023) and “The Journalist's Toolbox” (Routledge 2024).

Mike has spent the last eight years teaching Google News Initiative and other digital and AI-driven tools to more than 14,500 journalists and educators in 425 trainings in 42 states. He’s currently the lead trainer for both the RTDNA/GNI Election Fact-Checking Program and the ONA/Microsoft AI in Journalism training program.

He also is co-founder of and trainer with Penny Press Digital LLC, a consulting and training company that has several clients, including Gannett. When he’s not doing trainings, he teaches data and multimedia journalism at UIC, where he is a full-time faculty member.

A former reporter at the LA Times and web editor at the Chicago Tribune, Mike served for 13 years as a faculty member at Northwestern, Arizona State University and DePaul University, teaching digital journalism to hundreds of students and professional journalists. An early adopter of the web, he is one of the 11 founding editors of ChicagoTribune.com.

He holds journalism degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (undergrad) and Northwestern University (masters). Mike also runs the Chicago data-driven news site, The Red Line Project (redlineproject.news). Twitter: @itsmikereilley @journtoolbox | Email: mikereilley1@gmail.com


Amara Aguilar

Amara Aguilar is a professor of journalism at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She teaches journalism for mobile/emerging platforms, social media storytelling for Latinx audiences, visual journalism, engaging diverse communities, public relations strategy, and interactive design, among other courses. At USC, she co-founded Annenberg Media’s award-winning bilingual outlet, Dímelo, focused on serving Latinx audiences.

Aguilar has written for Los Angeles Times, CNN, NiemanLab, and other outlets. She has worked as a designer, visual journalist, reporter, social media engagement producer and consultant. She’s conducted social media, data, and digital journalism training for the Associated Press, ABC News, the National Football League and other organizations. Aguilar earned an Online News Association Challenge Fund grant for Innovation in Education in 2020, was named a TOW Knight Disruptive Educator for innovation in 2018, MediaShift’s top innovative journalism educator in 2018, a Scripps Howard Foundation-AEJMC visiting social media fellow in 2017, and an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2015. Her collaborations at USC include work with ABC7, L.A. TACO, NBC Latino, Snap Inc., Fusion, KPCC, NPR Next Generation Radio, Las Fotos Project, Azteca America, and others. She is also an SPJ trainer on Google News Initiative tools.

At USC she is a regular collaborator and faculty fellow for the Center for Public Diplomacy and has also worked with the Center for Health Journalism. She earned her doctorate at USC’s Rossier School of Education in organizational change and leadership, where her research focused on converged newsrooms.


Benét J. Wilson

Benét J. Wilson is director of the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship, a year-long program designed to train early-career journalists.

She was previously a senior editor for The Points Guy. She serves on the boards of Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism and the Institute for Independent Journalism. She also served on the Online News Association and the National Association of Black Journalists boards.

She is a strong advocate for media diversity, mentoring and career navigation. She has been a Google Tools trainer for five years and has moderated workshops and webinars on topics including resumes/cover letters, digital journalism, branding and social media.

She graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., with a B.A. in broadcast journalism. She resides in Baltimore, Maryland.


Dan Petty

Dan Petty is ProPublica's director of audience strategy. He focuses on helping the news organization's journalism reach wide, loyal and diverse audiences on and off the organization’s platforms. He was previously director of audience development at MediaNews Group, where he worked on editorial strategy, operations and business development and helped build the company’s digital subscription business.

Prior to that, he spent seven years at the Denver Post in a variety of production and editing roles. He has consulted for news organizations in Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Center for Journalists and the U.S. State Department.

He received a bachelor of science in biology and journalism from the University of Richmond and an MBA with honors from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2022.


Debora Wenger, Ph.D.

Debora Wenger, Ph.D., is Associate Dean and Professor in the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.
Prior to her academic appointments, Wenger worked as a reporter, producer and in newsroom leadership roles for multiple TV stations. She has worked for the U.S. State Department providing journalism training in the South Pacific and in Europe. She has conducted workshops on data journalism, verification, and video storytelling in newsrooms around the country and has been a trainer for the Society of Professional Journalists in association with its Google News Initiative Program.

She is co-author of a textbook, Advancing the Story: Journalism in a Digital World, and serves as the Editor in Chief for Electronic News, the journal for the Broadcast and Mobile Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJCM). Her research on news video and local television news was completed with support from the Knight Foundation. In 2018, AEJMC’s Electronic News Division honored Wenger with the Larry Burkum Service Award for her contributions to journalism and journalism education. Wenger received her Ph.D. from Kingston University in the U.K. 


Frank Bi

Frank Bi is a journalist, technologist, educator and nonprofit leader passionate about the intersection of media, technology and business.

He is the Director of Tools & Technology at the Star Tribune and an Executive MBA candidate at New York University's Stern School of Business. 

Frank is also the Senior Vice President of the Asian American Journalists Association. He lives in Minneapolis and New York City.


Lara Salahi

Lara Salahi is an award-winning journalist, author, and Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Endicott College. 

She has worked in every medium, from film and  local news, network and cable television, international print, and documentary film, and her work has been published in and broadcast on numerous news outlets worldwide.  She is a respected field producer, covering major stories across New England for news networks including ABC News.

Lara has reported on nearly every major public health epidemic in recent history through multiple formats. She is the executive producer of Track the Vax, a podcast hosted by Everyday Health and MedPage Today focused on the COVID-19 vaccines. The series breaks down the process and science behind the largest mass vaccination program in U.S. history.  


Samantha Sunne

Samantha Sunne a freelance journalist based in New Orleans. She is the recipient of several national grants and awards for investigative reporting, most recently the ProPublica Local Reporting Network fellowship. When not on a reporting project, she teaches at conferences, universities and newsrooms around the world, including Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

Her first book, coauthored with trainer Mike Reilley, “Data + Journalism: A Story-Driven Approach to Learning Data Reporting,” was an Amazon bestseller in 2023.


About the Google News Initiative

The Google News Initiative is Google's unified effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age. It's focused on three key objectives: elevating quality information, evolving business models to support quality journalism, and empowering news organizations to use new technology to meet their needs.