Photo: Erik Westra

SRCCON 2019 • July 11 & 12 in MPLS Support the SRCCON team

SRCCON 2019 Session Proposals

Thank you to everyone who submitted a session idea for SRCCON this year! After we review each proposal, we’ll notify everyone about their session status by May 10. And between now and then, we hope reading through the proposals here helps spark ideas about how you’d like to participate.

Our call for participation form for tickets remains open as space is available, so tell us if you’d like to be there.

"Abandon normal instruments": Sideways strategies for defeating creative block

Proposed by Katie Park and Alex Tatusian

Sometimes the well of ideas runs dry and we find ourselves stuck in a creative rut. If we can’t move past it, let’s try thinking sideways. Drawing inspiration from Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, a card-based system that offers pithy prompts for creative thinking, we’ll discuss ways to shift our perspective in the process of brainstorming, designing and problem-solving. Some of Schmidt and Eno’s one-line strategies include:

“Not building a wall but making a brick.” “Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place.” “You can only make one dot at a time.”

We’ll look at projects that emerged from unconventional sources of inspiration, share our favorite methods of breaking creative block and then develop our own list of “oblique strategies” that we’ll publish online after the session.

A method to Distrust about electoral news

Proposed by Adrian Pino

This year we launched the project Desconfio in which we have developed a methodology to analyze distrust electoral information. This allowed us to create indicators and establish a ranking of confidence in the news that we would like to share in the event.

A playbook for reporters interested in reaching people at risk of being undercounted

Proposed by Ashley Alvarado

The 2020 census is a year away, but chances are you’ve already heard about it. The census is making headlines because several states are suing the Trump administration over its plans to include a citizenship question. But much of the news glosses over why the census is important and how it affects everyone’s lives. Congressional representation is at stake, along with $800 billion in federal funds that will get disbursed for state, county, and community programs over the next decade.

When KPCC conducted human-centered design research into the census and the opportunities for public service journalism, one finding stood out: We can’t assume educated news consumers know the stakes or the mechanics of the census. There was a very low level of census knowledge among the people we interviewed, including current NPR listeners. How can we address this knowledge gap? We have some ideas. Let’s talk.

Agile in the newsroom: successes, failures and shades of gray

Proposed by George LeVines and Troy Thibodeaux

If you’ve used or ever wanted to use parts of the agile method for news gathering and dissemination (as opposed to product/platform development) we want to hear your ideas and share ours.

In this session, we’ll use a discussion format called a fishbowl to compare notes, hear success stories and brainstorm ways we can adapt agile tools and methods to help ease the pain of newsroom chaos and deadlines.

Are you not entertained? When to make fun of the news

Proposed by Ha-Hoa Hamano

In the relentless news cycle for journalists and feelings of content overconsumption by people, what can news comedy formats like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert teach us about engaging audiences and editorial discretion.

Assembling the Scramble Suit

Proposed by Thomas Wilburn

In a post-Gamergate world, how should we think about personal data in our reporting and our research? What responsibilities do we have to the privacy of the communities we report on? While many journalists have struggled with this question, few newsrooms have an explicit ethics policy on how they retain, release, and redact personally-identifiable information. Let’s change that, by drafting a sample PII ethics policy that can be adopted by organizations both large and small.

Bang for your buck: how to help your newsroom get the most out of SRCCON (or any journalism event)

Proposed by Emma Carew Grovum and Dave Stanton

Conferences may be educational and inspirational for you, but also expanding value to your team and organization should be at the top of your mind. Having a process to help in preparing, attending, and post-event knowledge sharing can help focus your attention to maximize the time you spend at conferences. In this session, we will define the common types of conference attendees and map to activities before, during, and after conferences to provide a solid framework for making conferences a must-fund part of your team’s budget. If you’ve ever come back from an event inspired and excited, but unsure how to take the next step, this session is for you.

Beat as a product: Lessons from product innovation for the newsroom

Proposed by André Natta

It’s often assumed there’s a difference between being part of an innovation team and working a beat in a traditional newsroom setting. There is much that is transferable between the two jobs. This session would explore similarities between two seemingly different functions in the modern newsroom and try to answer the following questions: How do you bring the level of exploration and experimentation to your beat? What lessons might folks with a product manager/design background be able to share with fellow journalists to make the return easier?

“Because the Boss Said So”: How the h*ck do we make decisions anyway?

Proposed by Cordelia and Tina Ye

We use a bazillion code words to describe how decisions are made—data-driven, data-informed, consensus-based, human-centered, testing-driven, “design by committee”, KPIs, micromanagement, the list goes on—but they all tend to gloss over the messy parts of what is actually happening between humans and the thought process behind them. How do we make sure we make the correct decision? How do we do it in a way that is collaborative and where everyone on the team is heard and bought in?

How do we make sure product managers and designers and developers are all on the same page? How do we make sure they’re thinking the same thing as the editors, product owners and everyone else? What do we do when there are cultural differences? How do we deal with disagreements and power dynamics within the org? Different communication styles? How do we change our minds as we learn new things? How do we center voices from historically marginalized communities? How do we go one step further and include the communities we serve in decision-making?

Join Tina and Cordelia as we take a stroll through some of the theory behind facilitation methods and figure out how to make it fit into our processes.

Before I Let Go: Leaving The Business without Leaving the Work

Proposed by Sydette Harry

We really love journalism. We really love tech, and what it can do. We’re not so sure it’s sustainable for us in the long term or maybe even the short. We want to brainstorm ways to stay help connected and useful, even if /when that means running for the hills.

How can we support this necessity of a good world and not sacrifice ourselves.

Being in the room: the hard work of interview-based hiring

Proposed by David Yee

We have an obligation to our teams and our companies to bring great new people into our work who can help push our teams forward, and yet interviewing candidates can feel extracurricular and rote. We need to discuss what we might be doing wrong, what the consequences are, and how to better focus our efforts when we are interviewing the people who want to work alongside us.

Let’s talk about how to create safe and respectful spaces in a job interview. Let’s think deeply and critically about how we spend the thirty to sixty minutes we have in the company of potential colleagues to ensure we’re learning the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons. Let’s discuss different approaches to advocating for a candidate you believe in, finding the person behind the candidate, questioning unconscious bias as you observe it, and teaching others how to do likewise.

This session is designed for both for seasoned interviewers and folks who have never done it before. Using actual interviews as a practice space and group discussion about foibles and tactics, we hope to walk away from this session with renewed focus and better, more respectful tools for getting to know a potential colleague and doing the hard work of bringing them into our newsrooms.

Better than Coffee: Fasting as a Fuel for Focus

Proposed by Jennie M Shapira

Since ancient times, humans have used fasting as a powerful tool to enhance mental acuity. We see this from people like Hippocrates, Plato, and Benjamin Franklin, all strong supporters of fasting, to the great mathematician Pythagoras, who required that his students fast to maximize their focus. Fasting has been shown to reduce brain-fog, increase memory, improve mood, and even resist aging. This completely free technique takes no time nor effort to do, and yields great benefits.

The ritual of eating 3 meals per day was introduced relatively recently, as the product of a colonial attempt to appear more “civilized.” Break free from wasted time day-dreaming about lunch. Break free from 3pm slumps where all you can think about is a nap. Learn to harvest the focus and zen that comes from fasting, and channel it into your passions.

This session will be focused on learning how incorporating fasting into your lifestyle can help you get the most out of your day.

Breaking Through the Ambivalence: The Future of Security Cultures in the Newsroom

Proposed by Jennifer Henrichsen

Political intimidation threatens media practitioners worldwide and disinformation campaigns destabilize public trust. Journalists are under surveillance, are increasingly hacked, doxxed and harassed. Over the last several years, numerous journalists and news organizations have reported incidents in which their communications have been hacked, intercepted, or retrieved (Der Spiegel staff, 2015; Wagstaff, 2014). When journalists’ digital accounts are vulnerable to hacks or surveillance, news organizations, journalists, and their sources are at risk. These risks vary and can include financial loss, physical threats, or sources’ unwillingness to share information for fear of related consequences (FDR Group & PEN America, 2013, 2015).

Despite these myriad concerns, many newsrooms lack the resources necessary to build robust and resilient security cultures. This session will address these concerns by documenting the needs of participants and their newsrooms. Drawing on guides like OpenNews’s “Field Guide to Security Training in the Newsroom,” participants will articulate what has worked and what hasn’t – from information security technologies to data policies – in order to identify core themes and challenges. Participants will walk away with a co-created best practices document that they can use as a starting point in their newsrooms to foster robust security cultures in a time of increasing doxing attempts, labor precarity, financial constraints, and decreasing trust in the media.

Breaking silos - how OKRs helped our team communicate and drive innovation

Proposed by Eimi Okuno

Innovation is freedom to experiment. Innovation is creative and fast. Innovation is not production. Innovation in the newsroom is all of those things for BBC News Labs. As News Labs grew from a small experimental team to a full multidisciplinary team, the flexibility of “innovation” reduced our ability to communicate with each other. Will innovation be restricted by structure, when it demands flexibility to try out ideas? Is cultural change possible when the ideology of the team is synonymous to what is problematic? This session will explore these questions and how re-introducing structure - Objective Key Results (OKRs) - helped us break silos in our team.

Build Tools: We're all making it up as we go along

Proposed by Daniel Wood

Gulp? Grunt? NPM? 😱😱😱You’re not the only one in over your head. Tools are rapidly changing, and what works for one team might be too opinionated for a lonely coder working on their own. On top of this, when do we find time to learn (let alone build) these tools while on aggressive deadlines?

Bring your rigs, your successes, your failures, and your questions. We will show off tools we have built and compare notes about where to begin, what to prioritize, and what to avoid.

Building newsroom capacity by tapping into expertise outside the newsroom

Proposed by Madeleine Bair and Mike Rispoli

Developing sources is standard practice, but what about developing collaborators? Community members have so much more to offer than choice quotes and timely expertise. What if we developed the capacity of our audience to pitch stories, design distribution strategies, report, analyze, and disseminate the news?

Let’s flesh out the resources that exist among our audience & within our communities, and the possibilities to invest in those resources so that the community invests in our journalism.

Free Press plans to partner with a newsroom or community partner to facilitate this session.

Calling All Media Diversity Avengers: Now’s the time to act.

Proposed by Hannah Wise and Emma Carew Grovum

In this session, we’ll collaboratively create ways to help folks from historically privileged backgrounds be better allies to their colleagues from minority and marginalized backgrounds. The goal is to advocate for fair and comprehensive coverage and a more inclusive newsroom culture. The method by which we get that done is up to us, but will aim to result in a community that continues beyond SRCCON.

It’s time for the people with privilege to do the hard work of making things right. This might be a messy and awkward process, but our work, our workplaces and our lives will be better for it.

Can Computers be Fact Checkers?

Proposed by Christopher Guess

In the modern political landscape truth is a challenging concept to fully grasp but one that is heard about from all angles. What is considered truthful, what is considered falsehoods, and how to tell one from the other, is discussed ad infinitum on TV, in op-eds, journalism schools and the halls of power. Since 2016 the words “fact checking” have been thrown about as a panacea to all of our woes, but the reality of fact checking, its actual process, and how technology is coming up to assist with it, is, mostly, fundamentally misunderstood.

I want to shed light on this vaguely opaque and still nascent form of journalism. How does it differ from the fact checkers that newspapers and magazines have employed for decades? How are these decisions reached? How, and if, technology and modern concepts such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can play a role in holding politicians and public figures to account. This will be the place to ask questions, figure out where different expertises can assist in the problem, and maybe even get a bit of hope for the future.

Celebrate good times, come on!

Proposed by Amy L. Kovac-Ashley

In the thick of relentless news cycles, it’s easy to forget to take the time to celebrate and acknowledge the truly great work that we are doing to serve our communities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. In this session, we’ll focus on the need to celebrate wins – both large and small – as individuals and members of a team. We’ll examine different styles of celebrating and recognizing each other, and we’ll look at examples of how workplaces emphasize joy and gratitude as well as collective celebration. Participants will work with each other to craft a plan for how they want to mark important milestones in their own work. In the immortal words of Kool and the Gang, “Bring your good times, and your laughter too.”

Changing journalism's awards culture

Proposed by Stephen Stirling

Being a journalist is hard these days and awards aren’t a bad thing. But data I’ve compiled shows that the best work of the year is often backloaded into November and December, when most contest deadlines come due. But this is also likely the least ideal time for big impactful work to come out as regular people and those with power to effectuate change leave work for the holidays. Let’s have a discussion about how we can change that, to be able to fete our peers while also remaining true to our mission.

Citizen Science As Engagement

Proposed by Elaine Chen

What if your audience could give you data on the issues you’re reporting on? Whether it’s investigating pollution levels in a community by using air quality monitors, or figuring out how stressed out we feel about politics by doing saliva tests, or tracking the urban heat island effect using temperature and humidity sensors.

A research partner is indispensable, and the results are somewhere between journalism and science. But the experience can reveal the inner workings of scientific research. It’s engagement where you — usually along with your audience — explore in a hands-on way the ideas you’re covering in your stories.

I’ll dig into the challenges and joys of partnering with researchers, and the thrills and frustrations in reporting on data from an activity you organized.

I’d also guide them through a brainstorming on a scientific or research collaboration they might do. Everyone will then share their projects and get some feedback.

Conversations with friends: developing strong peer mentorship relationships

Proposed by Marie Connelly and Nozlee Samadzadeh

So much career advice revolves around mentorship, but many of us struggle to build mentorship relationships. How do you even find a mentor? And what do you do once you get one? It can feel intimidating and overwhelming to even get started, especially if you’re the only person with your title in the newsroom. Enter peer mentorship. As coworkers from different disciplines, we’ve found that peer mentorship has helped us grow in our careers, navigate the day-to-day challenges of life at work, and get shit done. We’ll talk about how you can identify potential peer mentors in your midst, what the peer mentorship relationship is and isn’t, and share some tips for structuring that relationship successfully. As a bonus, you might even leave the session with a potential peer mentor from the SRCCON community!

Creating the Space for Journalism

Proposed by André Natta

Many of us work for organizations focused on the production and distribution of news and information via printed and digital formats. One thing we don’t often consider is the space this work is consumed within or the impact our work could have on the physical world. This session would focus on a deeper conversation about the role the physical world should play in how we approach the development of and distribution of news.

Creative ways to teach complex issues

Proposed by Jennifer LaFleur and Jaimi Dowdell

Teaching data journalism in newsrooms and at universities has forced us to come up with creative techniques. We wrote The SQL Song to help one group of boot camp attendees understand the order of commands. In an attempt to help students fine-tune their programs, we did a game show called Query Cash. To make string functions make more sense, we’ve created silly, but useful performances. To make this session interactive, we propose inviting attendees to bring their ideas. We also will pose some problems and have teams work out creative solutions.


Proposed by Blaise Aboh

Will automated journalism compete with human journalists? Is it a way to cut costs and replace human journalists? or would it complement quotidian journalism and journalists? These are the questions this practical and conversational session seeks to answer. In the past few years, algorithms have been used to automatically generate news from structured data. In 2014 Associated Press, started automating the production of its quarterly corporate earnings reports.

Once developed, not only can algorithms create thousands of news stories for a particular topic, they also do it more quickly, cheaply, and potentially with fewer errors than any human journalist. Unsurprisingly, this efficiency has fueled journalists’ fears that automated content production will eventually eliminate newsroom jobs, however some experts see the technology’s potential to improve news quality with a human-machine alliance.

Designing a Culture of Inclusivity and Diversity

Proposed by Angelica Hill and Leza Zaman

Two women working at The New York Times in digital innovation share their recommendations, and facilitate conversations, rooted in their lived experience in corporate culture. Through discussion and exercises we hope the session gives you a starting point and a few tips and ticks to start designing a culture of diversity and inclusion. We plan to facilitate conversations around three core pillars to help employees at their company, whether big or small, no matter what industry: Structure, Conversation, and Assessing Success when designing culture and cultural change.

“Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.” - Jacqueline Woodson

Designing the next phase for newsroom technologists

Proposed by Tyler Fisher and Brittany Mayes

Over the past few decades, newsroom technologists have pushed the field of journalism forward in countless ways. As we approach a new decade, and arguably a new era of digital journalism, how must newsroom technologists evolve to meet new needs? And how do we center technology in a newsroom while also fixing the problems news organizations have long had regarding diversity, representing their communities, speaking to their audiences, etc.?

In this session, we will start with a set of hypotheses to seed discussion.

For journalism to succeed in the next decade:

  • Newsroom technologists must have real power in their organizations.
  • Experimentation and product development must be central to how a newsroom operates.
  • News organizations must be radically inclusive of their communities.
  • Cultivating positive culture and interpersonal relationships is key to developing sustainable newsrooms.

Given these hypotheses, what skills do we need to grow in newsroom technologists? What must we think about more deeply in our daily work? What tools do we need to develop? How must this community evolve? Together, let’s brainstorm these questions and leave with ideas to explore and deepen newsroom technology and culture beyond SRCCON.

Developing good habits in our self-care

Proposed by Erin Brown

Journalism is a tougher job mentally than most people realize. Deadlines and the high-pressure to achieve perfection are part of it. But we are often on the front lines in experiencing the worst of humanity. Lately, we’re targets simply for doing our job. Now, more than ever, we need each other.

We can take a moment to lean on each other to discuss tips for taking care of our mental health, from simple ideas such as developing good habits in our self-care to deeper situations which may involve medical help. What are the signs to be aware of? What safety nets exist for us to turn to? How can we be a good colleague in making sure those struggling around us are not being ignored?

In this off-the-record session, let’s share our shoulders for crying and our personal stories for inspiration.

Developing your democracy metrics

Proposed by Simon Galperin

Democracy is a word that gets thrown around a lot as a by-product of journalism. But when was the last time you took a moment to really interrogate what democracy is and how to measure it? What is our relationship to democracy and how do we cultivate more of it?

This session follows a session from SRCCON:POWER where participants developed consensus definitions for democracy and brainstormed ways to cultivate a more thoughtful democratic practice in their work. (Read more about it here: We’ll work with those definitions and your own to develop metrics for measuring how your work cultivates democracy. This will be a highly participatory session. Participants will leave the session with an understanding of democracy as a practice and approaches to measuring and articulating their own democratic impact.

Document Dumpster Diving: Using Crowdsourcing and ML to Turn PDFs into ~Data~

Proposed by Michael Morisy

How would you tackle a 100 million pages of PDFs? That’s a question we’ve been thinking a lot about ever since DocumentCloud and MuckRock merged last year and we get increasingly close to that milestone. We’re working on finding new ways to help analyze, categorize, search, sort, and otherwise help journalism tackle larger and larger documents sets in a way that supports the journalism we want to do. Come learn about our new crowdsourcing and machine learning efforts. More importantly, share your hairiest document analysis problems as we explore where the future of collaborating, analyzing, and reporting on massive document sets needs to go.

Document this conference! An introduction to Library.

Proposed by Isaac White and Maxine Whitely (Rebecca Halleck and Umi Syam would be great additions, if possible)

Writing good documentation is hard, so let’s write some together in a low-pressure environment! This session isn’t just about writing documentation to go with SRCCON; it’s an opportunity to learn how to improve documentation at your organization and perhaps take-away a prototype install of Library, too.

We’ll start by collaborating on successful approaches to writing and sharing documentation in a newsroom, then use Library to collect useful documentation for all SRCCON attendees.

Library is an open-source documentation tool released by the New York Times in collaboration with Northwestern University’s Knight Lab earlier this year. Because every page in Library is a Google Doc, you already know how to use it!

Don't compete, collaborate: Lessons learned from covering the 2019 Chicago municipal elections

Proposed by Matt Kiefer

[cue Star Wars scroll …]

Heading into 2019, Chicago faced a historic election. For the first time in decades, the mayor’s office was up for grabs with no incumbent and no heir apparent to the 5th floor of City Hall. Meanwhile, the clerk, treasurer and entire 50-seat City Council were up for election. Competition was fierce.

Small newsrooms faced the daunting task of covering all of these races. More than 200 candidates were running for local office – including more than a dozen for mayor – from complete unknowns to career pols. All of this was taking place in a news environment where media often struggles to engage voters and help them make informed decisions.

With these challenges in mind, a group of five local independent newsrooms decided to pool their resources and work together to create a one-stop resource to serve voters. In a matter of days, the Collaborative was founded, launching a website with candidate profiles, articles, voter resources and other information. The collaborative grew to 10 partners and traffic to the website surged heading into the February election and eventual April runoff. We literally built the car as we drove it, rolling out new features as fast as we could develop them. All while publishing new stories and information daily.

We quickly learned a lot about collaborating, building on each other’s strengths and overcoming challenges. Here are our takeaways, what worked and what didn’t, along with tips, insights and all the key technical details that could help you and your collaborators cover the next election.

Engineering Beyond Blame

Proposed by Joe Hart and Vinessa Wan

(Subtitle: How The New York Times is Moving Towards a Culture of Growth and Accountability Through Blamelessness.)

Co-facilitator: Vinessa Wan (who will be submitting her own form today, too.)

Incidents and outages are a normal part of any complex system. In recent years The New York Times adopted a collaborative method for discussing these events called Learning Reviews. We’d like to give a brief introduction to Learning Reviews—where they originated, why they’re called Learning Reviews, what they are—followed by a few exercises with the attendees. Some of these group exercises would focus on communicating the idea of complexity and how that impacts our ability to predict the future. In doing so, we’d also communicate how complex systems have a degree of impermanence and how this contributes to outages. This segues into the theme of the discussion, how do we look back on an event in a way that prioritizes learning more about our systems and less about finding fault with a human? We’ll go over the importance of language and facilitation in this process.

Ethical journalism in an information overload age

Proposed by Alex Veeneman

Journalism can feel like a bit much in this social media age, but it doesn’t have to be. How can you promote meaningful, ethical, public powered journalism in a sea of noise? What needs to change about focus and culture in journalism? This session will attempt to answer those questions and exchange ideas.

Everyone Together to the Calendar Table

Proposed by Christian Skotte

At most organizations, different departments all work on different timelines. News may think 36 hours is a long time, video features may think of a month as a short turnaround, and fundraising or ad sales needs to know NOW what is happening.

How do you balance the interests of a news team that makes last-minute decisions and works with a quick turnaround? How do you keep everyone in the know without compromising programming deadlines and managing time and resources?

Learn how public radio’s Science Friday successfully implemented an organization-wide editorial calendar and discover new tools to implement your own.

Extraordinary Measures: Learning from the parallels of journalism and health care to improve both

Proposed by Heather Bryant and Shady Grove Oliver

In a 2013 survey of doctors, researchers found that 88.3% of doctors wish to “forego high-intensity treatments” and decline resuscitation, choosing different end-of-life care for themselves than their patients. The study states “it is likely that doctors recurrently witness the tremendous suffering their terminally ill patients experience as they undergo ineffective, high intensity treatments at the end of life and they (the doctors) consequentially wish to forego such treatments for themselves.” What does journalism look like under such a lens? How would we cover the next shooting? The next devastating natural disaster? A personal tragedy? A public embarrassment? When it is us, our families, our lives, how do we want our colleagues to conduct themselves? How do we want our stories told?

We’ve combined our backgrounds in narrative medicine, local journalism, ethics and access research into a project examining the parallels in how health care and journalism have evolved in the U.S. Across both fields, practitioners often cite the appeal of service to others as why they do the work, but are communities truly being served? The very practices of health care and journalism are shaped, challenged, and even threatened by the compromises created by the conflict between delivering a service and seeking revenue. They both have become industries that suffer from lack of access for local or rural communities, are distorted by the drive for profit or financial influence (like insurance companies and hedge-fund owners), deeply ingrained problems with diversity and representation and questions of agency, ethics, autonomy and participation from the people on the other side of the pen and stethoscope.

Join us for a frank group discussion and brainstorming session around the parallels between medicine and journalism and to push toward solutions that make our communities healthier—physically, emotionally and intellectually.

Fade In: What Data Journalism Can Learn from Screenwriting

Proposed by Phi Do

Screenwriters use many techniques to distribute information throughout a film: building context to create goals and desires, withholding knowledge to create intrigue, planting clues to create suspense, and revealing discoveries to create surprise. By establishing rhythms of expectation, anticipation, disappointment, and fulfillment, a well-written screenplay keeps us captivated as it directs us through all the plot points and to the heart of the story.

Data journalism shares a similar goal. Are there lessons from screenwriting we can use to write engaging, data-driven stories, so we don’t end up with an info dump? Let’s find out together.

In this session, we’ll participate in a writers’ room to discuss how screenwriters use different strategies to jam-pack information into scenes while building a narrative and keeping pace. Then we’ll try out different screenwriting approaches to see how we can best break down complex data sets in our reporting, guide readers to the story, and keep their attention. Wipe down the whiteboards, grab some Post-its, and let’s “break” a story!

Feed your readers’ curiosity: building a customizable (news) feed for publishers

Proposed by Anna Coenen and Kika Gilbert

Feed-based architectures have long been the primary drivers of engagement for social media companies and online-first publishers. On the other hand, the digital offerings of older more mature publishers still mirror their print counterpart: Content is ordered by section and readers have no control over what they see. In this session, we want to explore if and how customizable feeds can work within a more traditional news website or app.

Here are some questions we want to discuss: How does one build a feed to begin with? How can users personalize it to their interests? By adopting the feed concept, are we just one step closer to trapping our readers inside their own filter bubbles? How may we responsibly use algorithms to improve the relevance of a news feed? How, if at all, can we involve editors in the process? What is good data to collect in order to power a valuable feed for readers

In this session, we’ll share how we’ve started to answer some of these questions at The New York Times and how organizations can begin to program the most relevant journalism for their readers.

Feedback Loop: How to separate from the noise and build healthy communities of feedback

Proposed by Kevin Huber

As contributors, we walk a fine line with feedback. Often we want constructive criticism but don’t know how to ask the right people to invest in our work. Alternatively, when asked for feedback, we only celebrate the strong parts and ignore critical issues. Occasionally even compliment sandwiches lose their border bread and become toxic. We’re left just wanting to turn off the comments.

In this session, we’ll identify how to frame feedback- both when soliciting and giving. We’ll explore how to build healthy systems of feedback within organizations, communities, and as a freelancer. Optionally, come with something you are working on- design, code, text, concepts, or anything in between- and we will practice our feedback superpowers. Join us as we learn to more meaningfully communicate and build!

Feel your feelings

Proposed by Kelly Chen

“Audience growth” optimizes for engagement, but who is advocating for the wellbeing of news audiences? As more and more people in the U.S. are exposed to trauma, how can the journalism we produce meet audiences where they are and help them not only stay informed but process and heal? How can we establish a relationship with news audiences built on empathy and listening? How can we make room for complexity and nuance, even when there is no succinct nutgraf or sweepy headline?

Fill in the blanks: Designing newsroom experiments using analytics

Proposed by Shirley Qiu

In many newsrooms, analytics are a reactive tool. We propose a more proactive method: treating analytics as real-time results of intentional editorial experiments. That takes a mindset shift, from waiting for answers to actively searching for them.

In this session, we’ll start with a short presentation on some of the innovative ways newsrooms have used data for experimentation. Then we’ll break into small groups to build out our newsroom experiments using Mad Libs-style brainstorming. The more unusual the ideas, the better; we want this discussion to throw out any constraints you’ve felt in the role analytics should play and think about other ways you can use analytics to improve your newsroom processes.

Fix your feedback loop: Letting people, not polls, drive your election coverage

Proposed by Ariel Zirulnick and Stephanie Snyder and/or Bridget Thoreson of Hearken

We are all too aware that the 2020 election is coming up. But do our community members feel empowered by the coverage we’re producing? Unlikely. Typically it starts with the candidates and what they have to do to win, rather than the voters and what they need to participate. We should flip that.

If we let the needs of community members drive the design of our election coverage, it would look dramatically different – and be dramatically better for our democratic process and social cohesion, we think. Bonus: those community members will be pretty grateful to you for unsexy coverage like explaining what a circuit court judge does. At a time when we’re pivoting to reader revenue, this public service journalism model is not just good karma – it should be seen as mission critical.

We’ll explore the “jobs to be done” in election reporting, how to ask questions that will give you a deeper understanding of voters’ information needs, the tools at our disposal to do that, and the ways that newsrooms can ensure they have enough feedback from actual voters to resist the siren call of the latest campaign gaffe or poll results.

From the Classroom to the Newsroom

Proposed by Kathy Trieu

You’ve acquired the skills you came to learn, now what? Brown bag it? Demo? Lecture…? In this interactive session, you’ll learn how to use techniques from the classroom to teach and engage your team or workshop participants. This session will give you the tools to teach anyone, anything, anywhere.

Game of Newsletters: A song of inboxes and subject lines

Proposed by Emily Roseman and Joseph Lichterman

Too often, tips and suggestions for email newsletters at newsrooms can take a “one size fits all” approach. We’ve seen that the way a newsletter is made at a newsroom can enormously vary based on the size, resources and purpose of any given newsroom.

In this session, we’ll create a card-based strategy game that will guide small groups of participants through the process of creating a new newsletter product that meets an outlet’s editorial and business outcomes. Groups will have to develop a strategy that meets specific goals and will have to overcome hurdles and challenges that we throw in their way.

Throughout the simulation, we’ll present then guide the room through a series of discussion topics and exercises based around the key worksteams of an email newsletter at a newsroom: user research, content creation, workflows, acquiring new email readers, and converting readers to members or donors.

Getting Back in the Game: Journalism as a Side Project

Proposed by Erin Brown

Nobody goes into journalism for the money, but sometimes we have to leave the industry because of it. :( Many of us have shifted from a certain beat, moved up the corporate ladder or left completely. And yet we still long for the experiences which made us love the business in the first place.

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again!

Let’s discuss strategies for identifying and finding outlets for our skills and expertise; managing time to pursue our passion projects; and plan for the catches that often come with a side-gig.

Ghosts in the Machine: How technology is shaping our lives and how we can build a better way

Proposed by Kaeti Hinck

Technology intersects with nearly every aspect of our lives, and based on the number of digital sabbath services and “I’m leaving social media for good this time (probably!)” posts that have been published, our relationship to technology feels out of control.

But our brains aren’t what’s broken, they’re working exactly as they evolved to work. Technology has just evolved much, much faster. And that tech is affecting our emotional and physiological well being. Media companies and platforms have capitalized on our innate psychological and neurological vulnerabilities to make money and keep us hooked. But there have to be better ways to build community and share information on the web. Let’s dig into the systemic issues (cough, capitalism) that have led to tech that makes us miserable and then design/brainstorm what humane platforms could look like.

Go beyond “Save journalism!” when making the case for membership

Proposed by Rebecca Quarls

As an industry, we’ve struggled to get beyond “Save journalism! And democracy!” when it comes to helping readers understand the merits of supporting our work financially. Learn how to write timely, topical appeals that rally support around your newsroom’s most impactful work. The work featured may have had an impact on a particular reporting subject or community, or it may simply be something that your team is really proud of. During this session, you’ll draft concise language that may be used to promote membership or subscriptions across your website, social media and email.

Great/Terrible News! Everyone's Using Your Open Source Library!

Proposed by Jared Novack

What happens when you post your code to GitHub and people actually start using it?

What makes for success in open source? How can you get your code noticed? Encourage contributions? Develop process? Reap the rewards of thousands of users using, testing and PR-ing to your work?

But also: what happens when it goes too far? How do you manage the chaos? Set expectations? Ensure you “code” responsibly (oh, and leave enough time for your day job)?

Growing a team from scrappy startup to software powerhouse

Proposed by Aram Zucker-Scharff and Amanda Hicks

The Washington Post’s Research, Experimentation and Development (RED) team was established four years ago with the mission to build better ad tech. RED took its baby steps operating as a startup within a large media organization but has undergone a transformation to triple in size. This session will follow the team’s progress from a ragtag group of engineers through its awkward teenage phase when growing pains made project prioritization difficult to current day when the group is hitting its stride as an adult member of the Post.

The two presenters, both of whom joined the team in its early phases, will talk about the types of projects they developed early on, the challenges they encountered and what made them switch from individual solutions to more sustainable platforms. They will track the adoption of an agile development mindset and discuss when it does and does not work. Finally, they will showcase the Post’s user testing lab and how the results from periodic qualitative feedback have shaped the development roadmap. This is a session for attendees who want a peek inside the Post’s research advertising arm and those who want to know how to manage a development team through significant growth. We also will discuss how R&D groups at other publications can partner with RED in the ad tech and journalism space.

Herding Cats: Strategies to build and nurture successful teams

Proposed by Caroline Cox-Orrell and Karissa Cummings

Ever worked on a horrible team? Same. Teams are the atomic unit of many organizations, and while we often consider how best to work, we don’t necessarily think about how to work together. We talk about team success as an outcome of psychological safety, team culture, or synergy, but what do those things actually mean and how do you cultivate them?

Join us to talk about building collaborative and cross-disciplinary teams that are actually fun to work on. We’ll use Tuckman’s Model for Group Development as a framework to understand how teams grow and share some of our best practices. We’d also love to hear how you help your teams build mutual respect, establish a shared mission, and continuously improve.

Hi! I'm new(s) here.

Proposed by Christopher Schwing

A meetup for those who are new to the world of journalism. For those just starting their career or for people who have shifted from a different industry. A casual time to discuss observations of the industry and trying to fit in with our seasoned newsroom colleagues.

How are we in community together?

Proposed by erika owens

It’s been amazing to see how the news nerd community has grown and evolved over the decades, and as we’ve gotten to meet in person over the last 5 years of SRCCONs. We have data about who is part of the news nerd community, and through various Slacks and events like this one, we’ve seen how members of this community support and care for one another. Let’s take a moment to reflect on this community (with the support of an outside facilitator): who is a part of this community? Who is not (or is not yet) included? What are our responsibilities to each other? What does our collective future hold? We’ll explore what we need to create that future, together.

How can newsrooms be more active catalysts for change?

Proposed by Cole Goins and Kayla Christopherson

While journalists talk a lot about having an impact, we’re not as forthcoming on how we can be more deliberate and active in informing structural change in our communities. Our work is often geared to spark surface-level outcomes (a law was passed, an official was held accountable, etc.), but even when media organizations are equipped to do deeper investigative work, they often don’t invest in longer-term strategies that can illuminate pathways for citizens to create more equitable, healthy systems.

Using a practice called systems thinking – a holistic approach to grappling with complex issues – journalists can develop more collaborative frameworks that help people build power and resiliency to address some of our most deeply rooted problems. Through the lens of systems thinking, we’ll open a discussion about some of the big ideas and questions that a change-oriented approach holds for journalists: What new roles can journalists play to help evaluate and facilitate opportunities for social change? How do we negotiate traditional journalistic principles and standards while working to actively dismantle oppressive systems? How can we better communicate and act on our values?

We’ll offer ideas from the systems thinking playbook, discuss examples of journalists who are actively rooting their practice in systems change and lead a visioning exercise to imagine new possibilities.

How open sourcing your project can help scale it to the the rest of the organisation

Proposed by Pietro Passarelli

In this session will open up the conversation to knowledge share successful open source strategies, drawing on participants questions and experience.

At BBC News Labs we recently open sourced a transcript editor component ( using a “code in the open” / “open source from the start” approach we engaged a community around the project. This has helped us to improve the project beyond what we had initially anticipated.

Biggest discovery was that a lot of the key to a successful open source strategy was around the so called “soft skills”. Curating the project and communication within the contributors, drafting documentation, guides, ADR (architecture decision record), as well as talking to contributors and learn more about their use cases, online and offline.

We also discovered that it was instrumental in transferring our project to a production team to scale it to the rest of the organization.

Will discuss what has worked, and what hasn’t worked for participants, and divide into groups to knowledge share potential open sourcing strategies.

This session welcomes both people who have no open source experience and are curious about how to get started as well as seasoned open source contributors/maintainers and anything in between.

How to Bring a Community Together to Build a Podcast

Proposed by Jordan Gass-Poore' and Heather Chin

In this session, I’ll provide a comprehensive review of how you can bring a community together to build a podcast and why audio content can be valuable to local communities.

We’ll discuss how to focus on the news impacting your communities. You want to build trust with your listeners through respectful collaboration and give mis/underrepresented voices in the city a place where they can be heard. We’ll go over the methodologies that can build this mission into your organizational structure. Participants will learn how to create a mission statement and begin a series of task force meetings, along with how to: -Create a listener advisory board -Hold monthly meetings throughout neighborhoods in settings relevant to the discussion -Welcome locals to attend these meetings to come and share their ideas and insights for stories that the podcast should tell about their community -Invite locals to contribute their expertise and share their experience

It’s important to research how your community digests news. Really think about the neighborhoods you want to cover: Who is the audience you want to build? And who is reporting it? It helps if reporters are living in that area and/or reflect the identities of that area.

This session will also explore how you can incorporate your listeners into the storytelling.

How to edit data as seriously as we edit words

Proposed by Hannah Recht and Kate Rabinowitz

Your newsroom has a rigorous process for editing words and traditional reporting. How can data journalists ensure that we’re editing data analysis with the same rigor? How can we take lessons from research and other fields and apply them to a fast-paced newsroom?

In this session, we’ll talk about how newsrooms are already doing this work—and how we can up our game. What are some of the challenges in adding new steps to existing workflows? How can you do this work if you don’t have a dedicated data editor? And how do you get the rest of the newsroom on board? We’ll share among participants the successes and challenges we’ve had, and try to find the ideal data editing process together.

How to iterate on a newsletter product with a "Jobs To Be Done" framework

Proposed by Anika Anand and Carolyn Gearig (and potentially another person from another newsletter)

We’ve made dozens of iterations on our daily e-mail newsletters because of user feedback and resource constraints, business considerations and technological and design efficiency. To get smarter about what our users want and how we can work more efficiently to give it to them, we’ve used the “Jobs To Be Done” framework to define what each newsletter section does for our users. We asked several other newsletter writers we admire how they would use the Jobs To Be Done framework for their newsletters, and here’s what we learned.

How to lead without power

Proposed by Steven Rich

In newsrooms, as in other workplaces, most are given power leadership through title and job description. But many of us operate in spaces where there is no one above you who can edit you. Let’s explore how to lead your newsroom without the title and exert power over the things you care deeply about. And let’s explore the ways you can acquire power by playing within the system.

How to plan a kickass, diverse conference

Proposed by Sinduja Rangarajan

In the last two years, I have organized conferences and have been invited at several others to speak and lead sessions. I have often been invited last minute to give a “female” perspective on issues and panels. I have been told how it has been very hard to find women data journalists. I have also reported about diversity in technology companies and have heard about how there is deficiency in the pipeline for hiring women of color. I’d like to share my approach to planning and organizing a diverse conference. This workshop will talk about strategies to find and recruit diverse speakers, creating a safe and inviting space for bringing perspectives from different backgrounds and walking through the process and challenges of building a diverse community.

How to re-org your newsroom around product without breaking it

Proposed by Jessica Morrison and Amanda Yarnell

At SRCCON:WORK, I talked about re-building our newsroom org charts to reflect the work we’re doing today and to prepare us for where we’re going. Joined now with C&EN’s editorial director, Amanda Yarnell, we’ll show you how we built a product team and re-structured our newsroom around it in one year.

If you’re interested in building a newsroom-wide roadmap, streamlining and prioritizing newsroom ideas, creating and managing a sprint-based product team, and growing stakeholder alignment across business units, join us. In this session, we’ll share our blueprint, our successes, and our challenges, so you can do it faster.

How to spot and ship visual stories

Proposed by agnes chang

From photo inundation in stories about social media, to seemingly “visual-less” financial reporting, how do you spot a visual story? We’re interested in everything from photo/illustration, graphics, interactives, and online audio productions. We’ll share a few examples for inspiration to kick off discussion, but we’re mainly interested in hearing from everyone how they keep generate ideas and how they read drafts for potential. How do you think about the visual purpose? E.g. visuals as evidence, for empathy, or an emotional journey? We also want to hear everyone’s favorite tactics for visual research: how to get the visuals or the information to make them, from crowd-sourcing, open datasets, records requests, Google Earth, to interview tips. Finally, as we all know, visual stories tend to take more time than standard stories. What’s your process? How does your newsroom think about planning, setting expectations, and scoping (and the fact that it’s possible to rush edit a half-finished text into publishable form in a day if needed but not possible to hack a half-finished code project into functional form in a day)?

How to use VR / AR to tell a story

Proposed by Andrea Roberson and Swetha Kannan

Technology is constantly changing the way we tell stories. But is it always for the best? Let’s take a look at how virtual reality and augmented reality tools have evolved, discuss when and how they can improve our stories, and learn some tricks to start using this technology.

If I knew then what I know now

Proposed by Erin Petenko

Let’s enter the Data Team Time Machine and go back to our old graphics and long-ago code. Even the biggest superstars have a first project or an outdated framework that seems quaint now. In this session, we’ll unearth some ancient work and talk about how we’d approach it differently with our current-day toolbox, whether that’s refactoring some code, building with some modern-day software or scrapping it and starting again. Come to this session if you want to feel better about how far you’ve come and if you want some inspiration to look at your projects in a new light.

Interactivity IRL: Creating interactive visualizations without computers

Proposed by Lisa Waananen Jones

Technology is a primary focus of innovation in data visualization and visual storytelling. So, what happens if we step away from our screens and instead create interactive visualizations without computers? Examples of non-digital interactive visualizations exist in many disciplines, from scale models used to get feedback about architectural plans to activist bake sales where women pay a different price than men to draw attention to pay disparities, as well as data art and installations. In this session, we’ll think about how to use objects, conversations and the built environment to show a visual story in an unexpected way, and then make physical interfaces in small groups to test interactions and identify principles that can translate back to digital spaces.

Journalism post-subscriptions: What’s next?

Proposed by Brent Hargrave

News organizations large and small are focused on the conversion of audiences to subscribers as a primary source of revenue in order to remain sustainable. It may already be time for them to think about what happens when this approach is no longer viable as a primary one. It may help to do so while approaching the issue by thinking about how your community is consuming and receiving their news and information.

Key Performance Indi-what? How to watch—and react to—metrics that move the needle for membership

Proposed by Rebecca Quarls

What are the common traits among newsrooms with strong membership programs? How can your newsroom watch—and react to—metrics that move the needle for membership? The News Revenue Hub has built a first-of-its-kind Key Performance Indicator (KPI) report and benchmarking system for the 35-plus newsrooms it serves. We’d love to share what we’ve learned so far; but, moreover, we’d love for participants to contribute their own ideas for refining these tools and advancing the digital news industry’s membership model for fundraising.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: How to write and sustain reusable code in the wild

Proposed by Alexandra Kanik

Anyone who writes code has been here before: you know the code you want to write, you know you’ve written it before, but you’ve been searching your library for nearly 30 minutes now and you’re ready to just give up and write the damn thing all over again.

And you’ve probably been here before too: you processed the data by hand the first time around because it was just quicker to pivot table than it was to pandas. But it’s a year later now and your editor wants you to update the story because new data were released but you cannot for the life of you remember what you did because you are always overworked and you can’t even remember what you had for breakfast yesterday.

Let’s talk about writing and organizing reusable code so that we can avoid ever being in either one of those situations ever again.

Lessons from outside of journalism

Proposed by Faye Teng

It can feel as though you have to have a journalism degree in order to be taken seriously in a newsroom. However, it’s long been a common practice for people to enter the profession from another one, often bringing new approaches and mindsets to it. Join journalists who’ve entered the profession from all walks of life as we navigate a wide-ranging conversation about what these hyphenates bring to the table and how they can help shape the future of the profession.

Let's Find the Boundaries of our Documents Practices

Proposed by Tiff Fehr

Let’s sketch out the boundaries of our collective newsroom practices in working with documents. One document or many, many, many documents – there is much to talk about in how we help with the work. Our expectations may touch on vocabulary, degrees of technological sophistication, project scale, evergreen collections, learning curves, workflows, etc. I’d love to discuss supporting shared tools, custom approaches and the inherent challenge that unites any doc-rich project: “wow, that’s a lot of documents, where do we start?” (Are we looking for ammo to help guide own newsroom? Yes, we are. And we could really use your help!)

Let's JAMstack! How to Make Data-driven Static Sites

Proposed by Carl Johnson

The dream of the 90s is alive with static sites! The JAM stack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) is a new twist on an old idea. Making static webpages has many benefits for newsrooms in terms of cost and long term maintainability. In this session, we will go through the basics of the static site generation landscape and participants will deploy their own custom static site, like GeoCities never died but with a data driven twist.

Let's build some ethical advertising

Proposed by Ian Carrico

The world of online advertising has been under a lot of fire. Online advertising has been used to target disenfranchised groups, those deemed manipulatable, and to push political disinformation. The economies of scale, having the many different types and origins of advertising, has made it even more difficult to prevent bad actors on different platforms. The question then arises, what makes an ethical ad? What can we do on our publications and platforms to help promote more ethical advertising?

Local News Initiative Road Show and Listening Tour

Proposed by Joe Germuska

Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism has been engaged in a multi-faceted Local News Initiative for the last year, looking for opportunities to help local news organizations find ways to thrive. We’ve conducted big data analysis of the web reading behavior of paying subscribers, and we’re exploring ways to introduce students to media product development methods and seeing how we can boost their work with Knight Lab’s development staff. We have some other projects starting to take shape, and we’ll be seeking more funding to continue the work and extend it to new partners and different environments.

In this session, we’ll talk about what we’ve done so far, but, more importantly, we want to talk with people working in local news to get direct perspectives on the challenges and opportunities they are experiencing. After a brief presentation about the project, we’ll use some structured conversation methods to learn about what’s needed and identify interesting opportunities for us to help.

Longevity of a student-run data journalism section

Proposed by Henna Dialani

Daily Bruin’s data journalism blog, The Stack, started in 2015. It’s gone through many ups and downs since its founder, Neil Bedi (a Pulitzer finalist this year) started it. The Stack is the one-stop shop for students interested in the intersection of data insights, coding and storytelling at UCLA. When I joined as a contributor in Fall 2017, the section had lost some of its best contributors and struggled in leadership and productivity for a whole academic year. There was a lack of camaraderie and need for collaboration which hindered the ability to produce much output as well, which took a long time to rework. Ensuring that data sections still work well and are adapting to the world around them is a tough deal.

I hope to discuss not only the challenges of starting a student-run data journalism section, but ensuring its continuity and sustaining the content it produces for the community it serves. I’m interested in talking about how to engage with the local data journalism community (having LAT Data Desk employees who used to work at Daily Bruin to train students, for example) was crucial for boosting morale. Pushing to hire diverse students with varied skill sets and different backgrounds allowed for sensitive stories and working with data and sourcing in a more human-centered way. Working with senior leaders to incorporate data literacy and accessibility in small ways, as well as working with sensitive data (for example an interactive map allowing students to document their personal experiences with sexual violence anonymously) helps push boundaries and is worth investing in, in student newsrooms.

Making The Case For Remote Work

Proposed by Adam Schweigert

There are many resources out there for managers leading remote teams. Similarly, there are plenty of resources for the people on those teams to work, communicate and collaborate effectively. There are also plenty of arguments that have been made for how remote work improves employee effectiveness and satisfaction, why it has economic benefits for employers, and on and on.

And yet, national news organizations concentrate their staff in the most expensive cities in the country. Let’s try to figure out why that is and help make the case for supporting a more remote-friendly workforce.

In this session we’ll try to come up with as many of the common objections raised by hiring managers when they insist that a given position be based in a particular location and then come up with a playbook of effective arguments to overcome those objections.

Additionally, we’ll come up with some high level talking points regarding how supporting remote work can improve the fundamental economics of journalism while improving the lives of employees and the communities they serve.

Manager vs Editor: Navigating your boss’s management style to get you both where you need to go

Proposed by Lauren Flannery

Art vs Science. Creativity vs Deadlines. Leading a team at a news organization requires a lot of switching between left and right brain to get meetings scheduled but to coax the best ideas out of the team. But what happens if you get a boss who trends more to one side than the other?

It’s more common than you think. Especially as newsrooms create more roles that straddle technical and editorial lines. So sometimes you may need a boss to get in there and wrestle with the material with you, but they’re busy overseeing a team of 20 people. Or you want someone who will go up the chain to argue that workflow changes are needed, but they would rather code review and tweak wording.

If any of this sounds familiar, let’s uncover the patterns in the way we interact with our higher-ups in order to have a strategy going forward. Without judgement, let’s take stock of ourselves and the people we report to in order to find ways that lead to better work relationships.

Mark(er)ing up stories

Proposed by Tim Evans and Bach Bui

Marking up is the process of adding editorial context to content. Anyone who works with content does this, in ways both intuitive (like making notes in a margin) and unintuitive (like writing html). Because we do this constantly it’s easy to overlook how unintuitive our digital markup systems can be. How can we markup content in a way that both we and our digital systems can understand, while preserving our editorial intent for the future?

In this session, you’ll work in groups using arts and crafts to add an editorial voice to stories. You can bring your own story (please print it out!) or we’ll provide one for you. After, we’ll discuss how the choices made by technology might limit what you can express and how long your markup will last in an archival state. We have some ideas of how to balance these needs, but would like to hear your ideas as well!

Measuring the quality of the reading experience

Proposed by Jim Johnson-Rollings and Sarah Shenker

At the BBC, we’re now focussing on how to best present our storytelling to younger audiences aged 16-35. So our big question is ‘what is the metric for reading experience?’

How do we judge whether a feature is successful? How do we compare two features to prioritise which to build next? How do we know that users are getting any value from us continuing to develop the product? Are the product and the storytelling able to be separated in terms of measuring the effectiveness of the output?

An interactive session exploring ideas for metrics, how they can help and how they can be misused - with a hope that we can take the first steps to finding a meaningful way to measure our storytelling ability.

Meeting management challenges in local newsrooms

Proposed by Erin Mansfield and Heather Bryant (Project Facet)

This will be an interactive and honest conversation about how management can be improved in local newsrooms. We’ll break the subject into a few key conversation starters – the factors that lead to promotion of non-transferable skill sets, the dramatic industry disruptions that lead to a chaotic situation for management, and how we tackle those big issues through human resource development.

One of the keys early on in the session will be to have people identify themselves as managers and former managers, versus our typical worker-bee reporters. We’ll encourage dialogue between the managers who are willing to talk about their fears and shortcomings, and worker bees who are willing to talk about how they want to be managed. We want to embrace this vulnerability, allowing managers and worker bees to speak with each other and come to better understandings of their counterparts.

Membership Has its Privileges (and They Are Not Just for the Privileged)

Proposed by Candice Fortman and Ariel Zirulnick and Simon Galperin

Let’s work together to build a membership model that is inclusive (meaning all the things you think that means and also accounts for things like skills as an entry point). Membership should be more than a monetary transaction and early access to Wait Wait tickets. It should be a gateway to the communities we serve.

Important: There will be LEGO’s in this session!

Membership launch 101: How to launch a membership program with fanfare

Proposed by Rebecca Quarls

Launching a membership program is like eating an elephant. How do you do it? One bite at a time. From launch campaign planning to pressing send on your first email, learn how newsrooms are launching membership programs with fanfare. You’ll walk away from this session with an action item list, member level framework, launch campaign copywriting template and tips for assessing campaign performance.

Mini Design Sprints: Generating Lots of Ideas in a Little Time

Proposed by Ranu Rajkarnikar and Anna Smith, Amy Sweeney, Norel Hassan

We all have innovative ideas, but how do we effectively leverage them to bring creative solutions and unique perspectives to light in order to solve our business and user problems? Enter the mini design sprint. In this session, we’ll leverage an abridged (read: 2 hours or less) design sprint format to promote rapid idea generation through problem alignment and sketching.

We’ll go over the goals, ground rules and best practices for planning and facilitating mini design sprints, including the use of How Might We statements and personas. We’ll also introduce different methodologies and exercises you can use to support ideation, including effective ways to sketch individually and in groups. Finally, we’ll do a mini design sprint of our own so you can see it all in action, and touch on the best methods for synthesis and sharing post-sprint. Walk away with the confidence to plan and run your own design sprints.

Moderating An Online Community For the First Time? Here’s How to Dive In (And Stay Sane)

Proposed by Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn

Chances are you may be one of a handful of people in your newsroom tasked with creating and moderating an online community—maybe it’s a Facebook group, a subReddit, a chatroom (are those still a thing?), or creating conversation in the comments section of a specific beat/story. Maybe you’ve run a Facebook page or a social account before, but how do you foster a meaningful community, set appropriate guidelines, and moderate sensitive conversations?

Let’s have a conversation about how to build a community from scratch, create support systems for yourself and your team (moderating is emotionally exhausting!), and run through some moderation scenarios and workshop ways to respond. Moderating discussion online isn’t just about making sure there’s no profanity in a posts—it’s become a tricky landscape that involves recognizing misinformation and disinformation tactics and checking your own biases. We hope you’ll come away from the session armed with tips on how to create strong community guidelines and ways to tackle tough conversations.

Murder Mystery: Collaborative Journalism Edition

Proposed by Laura Laderman and Maya Miller

People are dying and it’s up to you to figure out why. In Queens, New York the percentage of people who die after suffering a heart attack is on the rise. Join our collaborative investigative team to solve the mystery and enact change.

A la a murder mystery party or the world’s shortest LARP, you’ll play a character—perhaps a journalist, data analyst, EMS first responder, public housing resident, graphic designer, professor, city council member, hospital administrator, or community activist. Like any good mystery, you won’t be able to solve it alone.

At the end we’ll return to our everyday selves and discuss what we learned about working collaboratively, in and outside of journalism.

Mutual CMS Demos

Proposed by Albert Sun

Let’s all show each other our CMSes and workflows! A lineup of people involved in the development or operation of their CMS demos several key workflows and how different newsroom users accomplish the same tasks. Each demo will follow the same structure and show the same tasks for easy comparability.

Noise & Signal: Knowing when to adopt new tech, and when to ignore it

Proposed by Alexandra Kanik and Kai Teoh... I think he's applied but if he hasn't maybe we can pull him in anyway because he's really responsible for a lot of this idea

Many of us are overworked, lonely coders. How do we accomplish every day editorial projects and also dedicated time to learning new technologies and documenting workflows that we spend so much time implementing and testing? With all this newfangled tech, what’s noise and what’s signal?

Let’s talk about devising coping and filtering mechanisms for the onslaught of newness so we can all actually benefit from it.

Outside Sources: Sharing inspiration from beyond journalism

Proposed by Cole Goins

Journalists can learn so much from other practices, industries and fields. Approaches to public health, art, community organizing, critical theory, science and more can all carry valuable lessons for our work. Let’s talk about the ideas we’ve gathered from texts, experiences and sources outside media and how they’ve affected the way we do journalism.

Bring one example of a reading, artwork, speech, event, interaction or anything that has deeply inspired your journalism practice and had nothing to do with journalism. We’ll share our examples with each other and generate a list of sources that we can continue to build for others to draw from.

Parachute Journalism: Can outsiders report accountably on other people's communities?

Proposed by Lewis Raven Wallace

“Parachute journalism” is the practice of national outlets or freelancers flying into local communities they’re not a part of to report a story, then leaving again. It’s a part of our journalistic economy, as the money and power in journalism is focused in just a few geographic locations–but it can also be damaging to local communities, and it can lead to misrepresentation, distrust and resentment. Often, national journalists appear in a community in times of trauma and elections, and report stories with insufficient context, while local journalists struggle to access equivalent resources for necessary ongoing reporting. This session will explore our collective experiences with parachute journalism as both insiders and outsiders to a community, in order to produce good ideas about how to do harm reduction, increase accountability, and shift power dynamics. We’ll ask: Are there situations where it’s better if this story just doesn’t get told? How do we evaluate that? What can national media outlets and freelancers do to connect and collaborate with local journalists and local communities? What are the ethics of accountable partnerships? In what ways do local and regional/national media needs differ, and how can journalists collaborate to produce stories that better address the needs of all involved? All of this will be driving at a larger question: What does justice and accountability look like in the practice of journalism?

Programming The News: What Content Do We Surface Where, and Why?

Proposed by Angela Guo

News organizations produce massive amounts of content every single day. The current political climate means relentless breaking news about the government. Newsrooms are also producing short novels’ worth of non political news, cultural criticism and other feature pieces that are not only great journalism but also important counter programming to the political coverage. At The Times, all this journalism exists online and in the paper but promoting a story on the web home page or on social really boosts a story’s reach. For many readers, the articles chosen to appear on those platforms become their main understanding of our report.

How do news organizations best surface content to readers? How can we use technology to aid what is ultimately an editorial decision about what stories go on the limited real estate that exists in those platforms (the home page, Twitter and FB)? As we retool our home page programming tools at The Times (and other platform programming tools soon too!), personalization and machine learning/AI to suggest content for promotion are things that have been talked about and experimented with. We want to make sure new readers get new news every time they visit our site but we also don’t want new people to miss big news. We want a good balance of politics and feature writing. And we want all of this to look and feel consistent across mobile, tablet and desktop despite the vast differences in those device displays. Mindful use of technology can help reduce the amount of friction required to keep platforms up to date and curated. But what does that look like in practice? And what are some things to be cautious about in this space?

In this session, we’ll walk through some simple examples of using technologies like machine learning to classify news tonally and surface content intelligently as both a technical exercise and a thought experiment. Then we’ll have a conversation. What excited you about the potentials of these technologies? What concerns do you have about applying these technologies to programming the news?

Proposing the impossible: Approaches for advancing real change

Proposed by David Yee

As newsrooms and product teams, we face some important organizational challenges: Create time and space to report on an exponentially more chaotic 24-hour news cycle, make our organizations more representative of the communities around us, find new ways to sustain our craft and businesses. These problems require radical change, but change is scary, so we often make that change in incremental ways. But incremental change tends to yield negligible benefits.

Instead of picking the low hanging fruit, what if we assumed there was no cost to taking immediate, decisive, and thorough action—what would we do? What if we dropped everything? In this session, we’ll air the most radical possible solutions to the problems we face and use a mental framework to pull slightly back from the impossible to the merely audacious (instead of slightly forward from the status quo). We’ll talk about how to find real opportunities to turn a corner in organizational work, create actionable plans for proposing it, and find allies and license to try it.

We will walk away with a conversational framework for evaluating audacious changes, a shared willingness to propose it, and—hopefully—a few radical and compelling solutions to tricky problems.

Proud to be a Platypus: Finding Your Own Innovative Role in News

Proposed by Vignesh Ramachandran and Hannah Birch

One of the most frequently cited reasons ( journalists in digital roles leave their jobs is lack of promotion and career advancement opportunities. At the same time, journalists with a nontraditional mix of skills, who sit at the intersection of roles, departments or teams — we call them platypuses — are proving to be pivotal to the future of news. So how can newsrooms use the people they have to push their digital initiatives forward?

This session brings together digital journalists and managers to discuss career growth within the newsroom, especially for people with a nontraditional blend of skills. A lot of growth in digital careers is uncharted territory, but through our empathy interviews we will bring together tips and frameworks for how digital journalists can fit into forward-thinking newsrooms.

We’ll share success stories and lessons learned, and we’ll workshop tactics that could work in participants’ newsrooms. This session is meant to be a launchpad for conversations and plans to better empower and grow newsroom digital talent — and not lose them to other newsrooms and industries.

Seek Truth, Report and Engage

Proposed by Alex Veeneman

Engagement, public powered journalism can make an impact - not only in informing and engaging audiences, but also restoring trust. But where does an individual reporter start with a project like this and navigate the challenges of an ingrained media culture? This session is designed to help answer those questions and be a guide to help with any new projects, thanks to insight from reporters who have done these projects and the editors that support them.

Have an idea? Share it! Wanting to integrate a project into a beat or subject? Ask about it! When this session is done, you’ll not only have a better understanding of where to start in beginning engagement journalism projects, but have ideas in the works to help make journalism better.

So you’re the minority on your team: Building an agile team where anyone can thrive

Proposed by Jacquelyn Wax and Karissa Cummings

Many members of underrepresented groups in engineering — women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and others — find themselves on agile teams where they are the only member of their or, indeed, any minority group.

Efforts to recruit, retain, and advance more underrepresented people in engineering are critical, as are ongoing unconscious bias and psychological safety trainings. But in the meantime, there are some straightforward practices engineering teams can adopt immediately that, on the surface, have more to do with building a strong, healthy engineering culture than encouraging underrepresented engineers to thrive — but whose result is just that. One of us, an engineer, learned this through observing and reflecting on the practices of the all-male team where she made meaningful contributions and grew from a junior to a mid-level engineer. The other of us, a program manager and a leader of an interest group for Women in Tech, has experienced both teams that did and didn’t do this well. We’ll share our experience and engage in exercises and conversation to exchange ideas on what others have seen that works and doesn’t. You’ll leave this workshop with actionable ideas to bring back to your team.

Sponsorship: Promoting Underrepresented Groups into Leadership.

Proposed by James Rooney

Last year, The New York Times tech org launched a Sponsorship program with the specific goal of promoting underrepresented groups into leadership positions. Those are both management and individual contributors positions.

Each Sponsee is matched with an executive sponsor (Executive Director to CTO) specifically tasked to help them get larger positions.

In the first year we’ve already had 80% of the participants promoted, while retaining our rigorous promotions process. No free rides! Each promotion is well earned.

There was a ton of discussion, planning, and hard decisions that went into building this program. The goal of this session is to provide you with everything that we learned in making is successful, and give you all the tool you need to bring a nearly fully-baked proposal back to you your company.

This session will take you through:

  • How we determined the scope of the program
  • Who was ultimately brought in, and promoted
  • The structures that we invested in to make it work (trainings, facilitators, executive outreach, and internal Sponsor recruitment)
  • Q&A on the challenges faced and what we needed to make it work

Spreadsheets IRL: The How and Why of Making Data With Your Community

Proposed by Christopher Hagan and jesikah maria ross

A lot of data journalism takes place in front of a computer, but there is a lot to be gained by creating data together with your community. As part of a documentary project about a culturally diverse, low-income community, we recently invited residents to map their neighborhood — not online, but with paper and pens at in-person gatherings. We not only generated unique data, but also stories and context we never would have heard if we hadn’t met people where they lived.

More and more, journalists are experimenting with community engagement practices to accurately reflect and represent people’s lived experiences. We can do the same by taking an analog approach to creating data, including our community in the stories we tell about them. This helps verify the data by collecting it ourselves and having subject matter experts (your community!) vet it along the way. It also makes our reporting process more transparent and creates a group of people invested in our work.

We’ll share what we did and what we learned in our neighborhood mapping experiments, and invite a discussion on other ways to weave community engagement into data reporting. Our goal: draft a starter kit of ideas for doing data journalism IRL that you can take back to your newsroom.

State of Newsroom Diversity Reports

Proposed by Moiz Syed and Disha Raychaudhuri

In recent years, many news organizations have published their diversity reports to educate folks in the industry about their challenges with diversity and to indicate that they are taking newsroom diversity seriously. This has also led to a number of conversations in the Journalists of Color slack and at other in-person settings about diversity committees at news organizations trying to figure out what their diversity report should cover and how they can convince management to publish effective indicators of diversity.

In this session we would like to facilitate a conversation around the topic of diversity reports. We will start with a quick survey of recent diversity reports published by prominent journalism outlets and then move to a discussion/group activity to work out what measures should be included in diversity reports to further the actual goals of increasing diversity in newsrooms.

Staying with the trouble: Doing good work in terrible times

Proposed by Mandy Brown

It seems everyone is talking about ethics in technology these days. Examples abound of poor decisions leading to unintended harm, of planned exploitation and avoidance of consent, of prioritization of financial gain over literally everything else. What’s the ethically-minded technologist to do? This session will be an open, off the record conversation among designers, developers, and journalists about the things that keep us up at night: the ways our work can cause harm, the systems driving us to do the wrong thing, the incentives that make it hard to even know what’s right. We’ll work from a vantage point that assumes good intentions, recognizes that impacts matter more than plans, and acknowledges the impossibility of perfect solutions: no matter what we do, we are all complicit. But we are not alone, and we are not without the ability to effect change.

Subscriptions, a new hope

Proposed by Marcos Vanetta

Subscriptions and memberships are doom to save our industry, our jobs, democracy, and more. Ok, maybe that’s a bit much, but let’s be real. How much do we actually know about subscriptions? In this session, we will explore together the subscriptions and retentions business model. We will share and discuss different subscriptions options. We will look into the ones that our industry is offering. We will explore success and failure stories, and we will try to build the perfect subscription. The idea of this session is to understand what is suppose to save our industry, explore its variances, recognize flaws and limitations, and discuss what could the industry be doing better.

Supercharge your text editor with a few time saving commands

Proposed by Daniel Wood

Step 1: Learn a bunch of time[read: sanity] saving shortcuts in your text editor. Step 2: Profit. I’ve been using Sublime for 5+ years, and only have begun to really understand its power. Whether its batch editing like a boss, using regex’s to find exactly what you’re looking for in source code, or quickly tabbing to the line of code you want, modern text editors are chock-full of Easter eggs and hidden tricks to enhance your workflow.

Bring your favorite text editor and hacks, and share them with your fellow SRCCONster. We’ll walk through some monstrous source-code puzzles and discuss clever ways to tackle them.

Supporting Journalism from the outside

Proposed by Lo Bénichou

A guide to supporting journalism in a journalism adjacent capacity. Everyone can help improve and solidify journalism even if they aren’t a journalist. Actually, we NEED people outside of newsrooms to enrich journalism. This session will explore how you can support the journalism world and why it’s crucial for these support structures to exist in order to make journalism better. Some examples: promoting open data and transparency, building tools, technically supporting solo developers in newsrooms, build opportunities for collaborations, provide resources to smaller newsrooms, writing guides, and so much more!

Take care: The Importance of Self-Care in the Newsroom

Proposed by Kristyn Wellesley

We don’t talk about it a lot in the newsroom, the fact that we see and hear things all the time in our jobs that likely affect us in ways it’s hard to describe to someone else. One of the first roles for most reporters and photographers is covering breaking news - chasing the police scanner from one traumatic event to the next. Our newsroom might have to cover a traumatic event on a larger scale - a mass shooting, a devastating brush fire, hurricane or tornado. We take care to tell the stories of those affected, to make sure their voices and their grief are heard. But we also need to take care of ourselves and our colleagues in these moments. What should you be looking for to make sure you’re protected and feel empowered to speak up for yourself when you don’t feel comfortable or need help? What are some things you could do if you are the editor to take care of your staff? What types of services could news organizations offer that would help in these situations?

Taking Up Space: Making Room for People with Disabilities at The Times

Proposed by Katherine McMahan

Diversity initiatives are popping up in most companies these days. Newsrooms are talking about gender and race representation, re-examining how we cover stories and how we create space for employees of all genders and races. We laud ourselves for being aware and being inclusive. However, noticeably missing from the conversation, at least for those who identify as such, are people with disabilities.

The New York Times has employee lead initiatives to help correct that. From the tech task force that turned into a team designated with making our site more accessible, to the internal panel on employees with disabilities that turned into an employee resource group the disabled community and their allies at the times are standing up and taking space.

During this session we will examine how the disability community is represented in newsrooms and institutions, discuss what has been done, and set a framework for how to take action now. We will work together to figure out what ally-ship looks like and what it means for diversity initiatives to include people with disabilities, and how they miss the mark when they don’t – both for employees and our coverage.

Talking In Code: How to help non-technical coworkers understand you

Proposed by Alexandra Kanik and Natasha Khan

Our unique skillsets as data journalists and developers can sometimes earn us more money, but they also earn us more responsibility. Especially when it comes to communicating what we do to managers and other reporters.

Let’s brainstorm ways we can better communicate with our newsrooms in order to get the respect and support we need to write data-driven stories and build awesome tools.

The Evils of Web Page Performance

Proposed by Michael Donohoe

In broad terms web page performance can be thought of as the time it takes from entering a web address in the browser to when the reader thinks the page is ready.

It really should be that simple but there is so much to disagree on that its hard to know where to start.

How do we even measure performance? How do you measure that? When you account for all the different ways that people access the same articles and news sites with different hardware, browsers, and connection speeds, internet congestion, and from different parts of the globe - the question and answer get thornier. We’ll go deep on that.

Setting that aside, why should you care? What are the user-experience implications and the business implications between slow and fast pages? What are the consequences to the reader? Short answer: Lots of good reasons.

We’ll give you a broader understanding of the issues and guidance on common issues. Also relevant for those who built interactives and standalone pages and have data-heavy visualizations.

The Geeks Won: Now What?

Proposed by Jeremy Bowers

News nerds came of age in newsrooms that were hostile to their efforts. But now, the geeks are running the show. There are few holdouts left. Winning was easy. Governing is harder.

What should the agenda of the nerds be in newsrooms where they are finally winning territory and mindshare? How will we use our positions to further our agenda?

The Impossible Task of Creating a SecureDrop Whistleblower Guide in 2019

Proposed by David Huerta and Kevin O'Gorman

SecureDrop is an open source whistleblowing platform under the stewardship of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. It’s designed for the most extreme Internet surveillance conditions imaginable, to protect the privacy and anonymity of whistleblowers who use it. Source protection, however, is dependent on several factors before and after a document is leaked to the press. In this session, we discuss what some of those factors are, and the challenge of creating a guide for potential sources to using SecureDrop with these external factors in mind.

The Spiritual Dimensions of Journalism

Proposed by Jennifer Brandel

The work of journalists, therapists and clergy can look very similar:

  • Listening intently
  • Suspending judgment or at least trying to remain objective
  • Searching for truth
  • Being fair-minded
  • Synthesizing complex information to find meaning
  • Encouraging people to right wrongs and move forward

We don’t of course talk about our jobs as being in a continuum of healing alongside these other professions. But what might we learn if we did? Also: what might we learn from how we bring our spiritual practices to work, or transform our work into a spiritual practice. At this session, bring on the woo-woo and the heart.

The Technology Behind The New York Times Crossword

Proposed by Darren McCleary

The New York Times Crossword is serious business. With over 450,000 paying subscribers, the Games Team at The Times works tirelessly to keep our solvers happy while driving significant revenue to support great journalism. With serious solvers comes the need for serious technology. See how the Games Team drives innovation at The Times with the most cutting edge tools and infrastructure.

The Website is Knot Down: An interactive, hands-on approach to Incident Management readiness @ NYT

Proposed by David Porsche

A conversation about incident management in a cloud centric world. Why it’s important, how to be prepared, all while having fun and learning new things (like knots).

How leveraging experience as a volunteer firefighter, along with years of service within technology led to the blending of both worlds. Inspired by the National Incident Management System (NIMS), we created an Incident Management Process for The New York Times and fun ways to learn about it.

The ‘cyber’ is leaking into the ‘space,’ Journalists assemble! Let’s crowdsource a guide to XR for journalists.

Proposed by Ben Connors

CALLING ALL ENGLISH MAJORS & ENGINEERS, YOU’RE COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS ARE NEEDED! Behind the hype of AR,VR & XR, a spatial c̶o̶m̶p̶u̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ communications revolution is coming.

With this revolution will come: new ways to document our world; a new visual language for expressing narrative and non-narrative data; questions about ownership of public space, privacy, data overlay; opportunities for disruption and most importantly AN OPPORTUNITY TO ASSERT JOURNALISTIC VALUES!

In an effort to create some common ground for the session, we’ll quickly share what we’ve learned about XR so far, what we hope for and what we worry about.

Next we’ll break out into topic groups. We’re specifically leaving room for groups to spontaneously coalesce, but some of the areas we’d love to mind-meld on are: a glossary of XR Journalism terms; a set of ethical guidelines for 6DoF journalism; a list of open-source (or otherwise accessible) tools & resources; a reference list of influential XR journalism pieces, hot-topics for spatial computing as a beat.

We’ll finish up with lightning-style report backs to the bigger group, and we’ll leave enriched with a public document that should help guide XR journalism newcomers, inform future conversations and maybe even inspire our newsrooms!

Things the future taught us

Proposed by Brian Boyer

How has science fiction helped you understand the world? Yourself? Justice? Let’s talk about the role of SF, and how it’s taught us to be better makers, teammates and people. Bring a book to swap!

Three tools we use to help our team feel heard

Proposed by Anika Anand

There’s a joke I often hear journalists make: Our job is to clearly communicate information to our audience, and yet we’re terrible at communicating with each other in our newsrooms. That’s partly because we don’t use the right tools or frameworks to encourage clear and consistent communication. At WhereBy.Us we’ve used three tools– user manuals, weekly team health checks and personal OKRs– that help every person in our organization share with their colleagues how they work best with others, how they’re feeling at the end of a week, and what personal goals they want to work toward. This session will help attendees learn more about these tools and potentially adapt them for their own workplaces. I would also love to learn from others who have used tools like these to help their colleagues feel more heard and satisfied in their newsrooms.

Transforming grassroots diversity/inclusion/belonging efforts into a sustainable, organized team

Proposed by Greg Linch and Bo Morin

Attempts to increase representation in news organizations often come from the bottom-up. Sometimes it can be an individual, sometimes it can be several people. That’s how things happened where we work. Scattered efforts led to mixed degrees of success. But coalescing these efforts into a more formal grassroots team has been a game-changer. Our group — the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) team — started with just a few employees. Since last summer, it has grown to include volunteers from most departments, representatives from HR and recruiting, and support from the company founders. With this session we’ll share lessons from our experience, but primarily hear from others what has worked well and what hasn’t.

Our goal is for participants to leave this session energized with actionable ideas and plans to increase diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity within their own organizations. If they want to, we hope this will give them the foundation to launch their own DIB initiative or take their current DIB efforts to the next level. We will also compile everyone’s lessons into a short guide that can be shared widely.

Using Retrospectives to Learn From Your Past Mistakes. No, Really This Time.

Proposed by Anna Smith and Ranu Rajkarnikar and Amy Sweeney

You’ve filed the story, finished the project, or launched the latest iteration of your feature, so your work is done, right? Not so fast! Consider the retrospective, an agile tool that helps you and your team celebrate what went well, troubleshoot what didn’t, and identify and commit to changes you’d like to make for your next adventure together.

We’ll discuss the different frameworks, tools, tips, and tricks that you can use to facilitate a productive discussion with your cross-functional team, regardless of the type of project you’ve worked on, and we’ll stress test them by running a mini-retrospective in real time. Emerge from this session with the resources you need to ensure that each of your projects is better than the last.

We can’t fix your life, but we can fix your [CV, LinkedIn, cover letter, interview approach, negotiating tactic]

Proposed by Stacy-Marie Ishmael

From the folks who brought you “how to do a double-opt in introduction” and “please stop asking busy people to pick their brain, what are you, a zombie?” This interactive session will equip you with some specific tips, recommendations, and strategies to help you stand out for all the right reasons.

We should rethink the way we think about percentages

Proposed by Ryan Menezes

We often come across percentages in journalism, simple numbers that convey a powerful amount of information. But a percentage can obscure crucial information. If one ZIP code has 30 homeless individuals out of 100, and another has 30,000 homeless out of 100,000, the percentages indicates similarity, but the two geographies will have vastly different times dealing with the homeless population. When looking at a list of percentages, we should endeavor to find those that are distinct. Tools from statistical theory can help us tease out what’s unusual and what isn’t. It doesn’t require much complicated math, just a little algebra.

We've got a crapload of high quality anyone going to use it?

Proposed by Daniel Wood and Alex Tilsley

Finding the right data can be a big hurdle for journalists who are on deadline. Meanwhile, think tanks and academics have the time and money to agonize over research and data collection. At the Urban Institute, we’ve spent the last few months building (what we hope is) a simple tool for extracting custom snippets from massive (and often inscrutable) education databases. We think its extremely powerful, but does it meet your needs?   In this session, we will explore ways to democratize data together. We’ll brainstorm tools and partnerships, and pull apart existing examples. You’ll design your ideal data tool. By the end, we hope to move toward an understanding of how journalists and researchers can work together to ensure that the best research and data is informing fast, high-quality reporting that holds institutions accountable and drives change.

Welcome aboard! First impressions matter and we can all make a better one

Proposed by Matt Johnson

Starting a new job is sort of like the first day of school, if everyone else had already been at school together for a long time without you. Whether you thrive on the social and logistical challenge of navigating a new workplace, or are driven to anxiety just thinking about it, we can all agree that a lot of workplaces throw new folks into the deep end of the pool without much structure or forethought.

This session is about bringing more intentionality to new team member onboarding, integration, and inclusion. Even if we’re not in a position of official hiring authority at work, we almost all have some part in the experience of newcomers to our teams and organizations.

First, we’ll share as a large group some of our own experiences and ideas about how to best facilitate the integration of new members of our own teams.

Then, we’ll break up into a few fictional “companies” – each with its own norms, culture, and inside jokes – and a develop proactive program to onboard our new people. Finally, we’ll see how our ideas work by switching tables and going through another “company’s” process.

What happens to journalism, when AI eats the world?

Proposed by Sarah Schmalbach and Ajay Chainani

Many news organizations are investigating how to apply artificial intelligence to the practice of journalism. Meanwhile many individuals and organizations are funding advancements in the field of news and AI. Do we take into consideration unconscious bias when developing algorithms and methods to build these new digital tools? How can they be best applied? What does the application of AI mean for newsrooms and the public they serve?

What the 2018 Election Can Teach Us About Funding Journalism

Proposed by Charlie Rybak

During the 2018 election, micro-financing of campaigns up-and-down the ticket exploded. Small dollar donations have been a dominant force in politics since the Obama campaign in 2008, but in 2018, that finally reached the local level (from congressional races to district attorney races and everything in-between) in a real way. Powered by grassroots groups, candidates began to draw a high volume of donations of $50 and less from people that live nowhere near the areas they represent.

Journalism has lessons to learn from the 2018 election. Principally, in the hunt for new revenue, identifying small dollar donors that care about your mission can be a potential outlet for financing journalism in markets around the country. Is there a way for locally-focused organizations to build up an audience of revenue-generating customers that live outside of the areas they serve? If so, what can we learn from how political organizations and campaigns have operated?

What to expect when you're expecting a new engineer.

Proposed by Sierra Saitta

Companies often lament that they are trying to hire a more diverse community of engineers, but that they struggle to find strong candidates. But if companies want to hire more diverse candidates, they need to be open to the idea of hiring people with diverse educational backgrounds: people without college degrees, people who are self-taught, and people who went to a boot camp.

Newsrooms and product organizations that are reluctant to hire candidates from non-traditional educational backgrounds eliminate a host of candidates right off the bat. How can teams and managers become more confident in non-traditionally educated engineers? If employers were better aware of what knowledge these engineers may not have, they could prepare both these new engineers and their current team, fostering an environment more easily able to absorb this kind of talent.

I want to talk with engineers from non-traditional educational backgrounds about the things they encountered that “everyone seemed to know”. What did they get stuck on starting their first job but were too embarrassed to ask? I want to talk with hirers about their experiences hiring first time professional engineers, and some of the things that have held them back from doing so. What support did they think they needed to have in place to take them on? I hope for people to leave with a greater understanding of each other’s fears and new ideas for how to onboard more diverse groups of engineers.

What's better than cramming? Self-educating with intention for a new job or focus.

Proposed by Sasha Koren

With continuous evolution in newsrooms comes the periodic introduction of new roles that involve new technologies and ways of working. Many of us have probably been the first person to hold a position within our organizations - or will be that person at some point in our careers. For example: An editor who once focused on text may now be involved in audience development or audio. A product manager working on a traditional CMS now may start overseeing strategy for voice-activated devices or AI.

So when you’re breaking new ground in a newsroom or starting something that’s new to you, how do you best get your head around the new technologies, frameworks for decision-making or ways of working that become central to the new role you’re taking on? How do you do so quickly and thoroughly enough to have a good understanding without spending too much time going down rabbit holes or making yourself crazy in the pursuit of a ‘complete’ body of knowledge?

Let’s brainstorm about ways to self-educate for new work situations that might help with these beginnings – and what kinds of support we might ask for from the people we work with and the organizations we work in. Come with any examples of what’s helped you – or what hasn’t – when taking on something new.

Where the sidewalk starts: How to find your people in a sea of well-meaning, super busy news nerds.

Proposed by Sarah Schmalbach

Have you ever heard the saying that you’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with? Well, that may or may not be true, but it does prompt some useful reflection. Who do you spend the most time with while at work (in person, or remotely), and do they support you? Also what if you thought really hard and couldn’t even come up with a list of five people? Well, you pitch a SRCCON session of course, and ask people to help you and others discuss ways to find (and keep) your work crew.

In this session we’ll discuss:

  • If you don’t already have “your people”, what can you do about it? Where are they and how can you find them?
  • What if you do have a network, but you don’t reach out to them enough because you’re worried about “bothering” them? Are they really your people then?
  • If you don’t already have people, who do you vent to? Who do you learn from? Who do you take cues from?
  • And further, should you ever strong-arm your way into an existing group? How does that go? Is it even a good idea?
  • What if you’ve recently moved, switched jobs or taken on a new role inside your company? Do you find new people, keep your old crew, or maintain both?

These topics and more will be discussed, and people can share their experiences, best (and worst!) practices for finding their network and finally realizing that everyone belongs somewhere (phew!)

Why do people look at me funny when I say “semantic web?”

Proposed by Isaac Johnson and Joe Germuska

More than a decade ago, much of the web world was infatuated by the promise of the “semantic web,” a vision of seamless connections between data on independent systems. But before long, that vision seemed caught up in overly-complex abstractions and doomed to obscurity. Meanwhile, a combination of technology growth and recalibrated expectations may have set the stage for a new approach to achieving these goals. Wikipedia, better known for its collaborative, volunteer-written articles, has also incorporated its sister project Wikidata for structuring data in its pages and disambiguating names with stable identifiers. And, the standards group has come up with simpler ways for web publishers to make their intentions explicit, empowering application developers to work with that information without needing Google-scale resources. In this session, we’ll look at these two developments. We’ll provide a practical introduction to working with Wikidata and its related APIs and datasets, and, we’ll discuss what might be possible if structured data was more completely baked into our research, articles, or web applications.

Why it matters — Designing stories for impact

Proposed by Anjanette Delgado and Jun-Kai Teoh

How would we do journalism differently if we were to think about impact — real-world change — at the brainstorming stage, before we started to write or shoot? If we knew something needed to happen to make things better, could we identify a few levers to pull that’d make that something more likely? Would we frame the story differently? Share the data openly? Talk to different sources? And how do we do all of this without going too far, without crossing into advocacy journalism? Now more than ever, with more nonprofit newsrooms forming, more for-profit newsrooms turning to consumer revenue (on the sales pitch that journalism matters) and trust at a crisis point, we need to measure and show why our work matters. This session will cover published examples and studies but is meant to be a discussion about what we can do — and what’s going too far — to make a difference. We might also, using design thinking strategies, prototype a project designed for impact.

Work/Life Balance is a myth. Try this instead.

Proposed by Kristen Hare

Work/life balance is impossible - most of us “work” more than we “life,” and a lot of us are lucky enough to love that work. Trying to balance it all leads to burnout, resentment and ideals and expectations that never get met. There’s a better metaphor, one that takes into account all the elements of your life, helps you figure out what drives you and come up with strategies to protect it. It’s called work/life chemistry.

Workbench: Reproducible data work without coding

Proposed by Pierre Conti and Jonathan Stray

Workbench is an open source tool that puts all stages of the data journalism process in one workspace, including scraping, cleaning, monitoring, and visualization – all without coding, and all reproducible. In this hands-on tutorial, you’ll learn how to use Workbench for several different newsroom tasks. Clean and explore data, monitor sources, create live embeddable charts that update when new data is released, or automate useful queries and workflows that other journalists can use to report. Workbench is built to help make data tasks accessible to more people in the newsroom. This session is good for journalists of all skill levels.

Working together to grow local data into big data

Proposed by Eric Sagara and Cheryl Phillips

Come join Big Local News for a discussion on how newsrooms can work together to grow regional and national datasets from local reporting. We are in the midst of building out a platform for newsrooms to share not only data, but story recipes and methodologies. We want to use the great work being done in data-driven, accountability journalism to inspire others in small and large newsrooms throughout the country.

We’ve already begun. Earlier this year Big Local News released an update to a database of police traffic stops, collected and standardized from dozens of different police agencies around the country. The release was the result of a partnership with the Stanford Computational Policy Lab and timed to around a pre-NICAR workshop where we taught journalists how to analyze the data to uncover patterns in racial disparity.

We also started a conversation at NICAR centered around a coordinated effort to collect more police data. We want to expand on that conversation now. What other datasets can we be collecting in health care, education and other important local topics? How can we help local newsrooms not only collect data, but analyze and archive it for others to work with? And how do we incentivize such efforts? What obstacles are there to building a cooperative environment where data is shared freely between newsrooms and how do we overcome them? And lastly, what features would you like to see in a platform that would facilitate this effort?

Come help us answer these questions and build a network to collect and sharing data for use in accountability journalism. And if you have data to share, bring that too.

You work in a newsroom; but what if you ran one? Let’s talk about Newsroom Co-ops.

Proposed by Moiz Syed and Akil Harris

There are a few examples of web development, design, non-profit and advocacy organizations that have non-traditional organizational structures but almost all digital newsrooms have adopted organizational structures that mimic the traditional top-down structures of old. These structures mimic the problems of old media organizations, problems that come from when people in power thrive on telling as little as possible to their employees before making significant editorial or business choices.

In this session, we want to have a conversation with SRCCON participants about what other organizational structures should be explored that could encourage the decision-making power to be shared equally amongst the members of the organization.

We want to talk about the pros and cons of building a newsroom co-op where every member could have an equal-voting power to make editorial and financial decisions. Such an organization would also have its own limitations and we want this discussion to be a frank conversation about what those could be and how we could work around them.

For a part of the session, we want to break into small groups to think about how they would organize their ideal organization. How will they be structured, what their goals and missions be, how will they be funded and what topics would they cover. We want the participants of this session to leave with a sense of hope that another world is possible.