Your Proposals

We're displaying all the proposed sessions for this year's SRCCON.

We received 149 proposals for SRCCON this year. They were all amazing and are listed here. To see the sessions accepted for SRCCON 2017, visit the Sessions page.

Bias in the News

Proposed by Rebecca Lai

How can we stop our biases from getting into our stories? Is there even such a thing as an unbiased story? Our team has received numerous criticisms about the bias in our work on Trump, Syria, the election, healthcare, the military and the weather. We’ll share our experiences and examples where we could have been more rigirous. Let’s discuss ways we could have been more diligent in culling our views from our work. Let’s come up with ways to curb our biases, vet our data sources, and expand our sources.

My Life In the Bush of Platforms

Proposed by Matt Dennewitz

Distribution platforms like AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News have changed how our organizations work. Having grown reliant on social distribution to reach new audiences, Publishers who had only ever dictated their terms of distribution had to learn to adapt their already-aging business models to walled gardens, new ways to measure reach and engagement, and work within Other People’s Priorities. Content format compatibility issues, maintaining wholly separate designs inside of early-stage platforms with low feature-sets, participation being equally opt-in and required to maintain SEO and reach, reduced ad opportunities, and gaps in analytics…it was a lot to take in. But publishers are doing more than making the best of it: they’re thriving.

In this session, we’ll look at what we’ve learned from learning to adapt. Your humble hosts will draw from their experience at The New Yorker, Pitchfork, Wired, Quartz, Hearst, and Condé Nast to offer a survey of the technologies and strategies publishers have created to navigate this uncharted frontier. We’ll discuss how our organizations monitor engagement, drive subscriptions and revenue, and balance our legacy systems with the needs these new platforms oblige.

Counterpoint: No Greg, Journalists Shouldn't Become Artists

Proposed by Ingrid Burrington

I wasn’t going to submit a SRCCON session proposal but I think I need to have a debate with Greg about this “art and poetry” conversation he wants to host. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in the uneasy space between art and journalism, I think there are extremely important lessons the two fields can learn from each other, and in recent history the research-intensive approach of some conceptual artists could be mistaken for journalism. Frankly, the differences between data visualizations by tech artists and visualizations by reporters are often negligible. But the things that make art valuable are, to some extent, the reasons it can’t and shouldn’t be journalism. This session will look both at some of the ethical and creative dilemmas of the artist-journalist blurring, as well as examples of working through those dilemmas toward productive collaboration.

What IT is…

Proposed by Joe Germuska

On its surface, the phrase “information technology” seems utterly unremarkable. But pull it apart and you realize that human history is a continuous experiment in designing systems for transmitting messages from diverse senders to diverse receivers. Even the written word is information technology.

We’ll begin the session with a few provocations inspired by people like James Gleick, Walter Ong, Marshall McCluhan, etc. Then, we’ll use a series of creative thinking and design exercises to respond to those provocations, and playfully pull the ideas apart and put them back together in a few ways.

Cracking freelance culture

Proposed by Samantha Sunne

Journalism is a dishearteningly tough industry to break into for those not already in “the know.” It’s even tougher for freelancing, an industry that depends almost entirely on personal connections and networks. Journalism has an already-acknowledged problem with including diverse employees, which includes people of different backgrounds, education, nationality, ethnicity, gender and even geographic location. How do we reconcile a heavily networking-based industry with one that wants - and needs - to be open and diverse? We can start with person-to-person networking and tech tools to bridge the gap.

Let’s take care of one another: ways to unplug and relax

Proposed by Vanessa Martinez

We’re constantly bombarded with news and information on our smartphones and other devices. This can take a toll on our mental health. Turn off your phones and check out this session. We’ll explore ways our fellow journalists take a step back at the end of the day to focus on themselves. Bring hobby ideas, advice for fighting the temptation to check your email when you’re off work or on vacation, and any suggestions on ways to clear your mind. Let’s take care of one another.

Reserving the Flow: Will Local Ever Drive The National Discussion Again?

Proposed by Andre Natta

It can be argued that local news organizations used to drive the national news conversation. Now, it’s clearly the other way around as national news stories drive local coverage at the expense of local and regional issues receiving the attention they deserve.

Let’s look at how we can better communicate within a region for a better understanding of local and regional issues. It’s also an opportunity to explore if and how such an approach can make national issues more relatable to a region. We can identify how existing tools and strategies can be leveraged to allow for a more collaborative approach, playing to the strengths of the potential partners.

Robot-Assisted Community Management

Proposed by Erica Greene

Many publishers have shut down their comment sections over the last several years because maintaining a large-scale, civil conversation on the internet is a challenging and expensive undertaking. In this session, we will discuss how advances in machine learning can help solve this problem. We will present the work The New York Times has been doing with Google’s Jigsaw group to experiment with combining human moderation with automatic “bot” moderation that has been trained on millions of comments. We’ll host a discussion on the pros and cons of automatic moderation and we will get everyone set up with the publicly available toxicity API so they can start playing around with the models.

Let's Get Agile: Approaching Journalism Like a Web Developer

Proposed by Matt Kiser

What happens when you apply agile software development best practices to the news production and publishing process?

How might open sourcing the entire “news stack” – the content && the code – lead to new ways of collaborating with the community?

What if every article had version control?

Could these practices help newsrooms build trust with readers and deliver a richer news experience that works the way open source software does?

Let’s talk it out using some design thinking to see what happens when journalism looks more collaborative, cooperative, and iterative.

How do I exist in a newsroom and be a POC? Pt. 2

Proposed by Helga Salinas

The title refers to the question that I have often asked myself after the election and subsequent current events.The events of this past year have caused journalists of color, like myself, to address issues associated with how workflows and newsroom culture reinforce the conflict of being a person of color and journalist. Examples include being told that you can’t be objective to cover a certain community or that stories you’re pitching won’t be interesting to that publication’s audience. Expanding on a conversation I led at NICAR ( ), I’m hoping to not only create a supportive environment for JOC to talk honestly about their workplace experiences, but to identify common themes (i.e., being a token, pitching stories but being told their audience/publication isn’t interested) and exploring possible solutions or success/survival stories.

Arming editors. What types of audience data help drive results for writers/editors. Open discussion and concept development session.

Proposed by Brendon Attebury

As a UX designer who works in digital news I often wonder what types of audience data editors find useful for writing stories. At The Boston Globe we are moving toward a more user centered product. In this session I would like to facilitate a concept development session where we might break the room into groups and have these groups come up with as much information as possible within three timed rounds. We will converge on an idea together and discuss the different merits of concepts by having one person from each group after each group has talked amongst themselves and then participate by discussing the types of audience data that might be useful to help editors write better stories and keep a finger on the pulse of their target audience. The goal is to understand if the quality of stories improves (trend data) when editors are armed with qualitative or quantitative audience data before they begin writing.

Diversity under the radar

Proposed by Annabel Church

In the microcosm that is data journalism and investigative journalism - how can we make sure that we reach a more readers, producing stories untainted by our own biases?

With the ongoing recognition that to cover topics diversely our teams need to be diverse, so let us get together and figure out how to hotwire the system, working to find solutions inside newsrooms, outside newsrooms and across the industry - so we can work more diversely now.

Let's talk about art and poetry

Proposed by Greg Linch

“If [people] were able to be convinced that art is precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology, would they all become artists?” Marshall McLuhan wrote in Understanding Media. Should we all become artists? I seriously thought about it a couple years ago. Here’s why: Whether we use text, images, graphics or code to tell stories, we deal with symbols, images, abstractions and interpretations every day. Journalism’s history is basically one of integrating new disciplines, techniques and technologies to more effectively tell stories. Lately for the data/tech community in news, that’s mostly involved stats, social science, computer science and other quantitative- or science-oriented fields. Although we should continue to do this vigorously, we equally need to embrace the arts. And not just from a visual or design standpoint, but for the ideas that underlie and advance art. In doing this, we can also see how seemingly disparate things relate – like cubism and physics, concrete poetry and GUIs or conceptual art and algorithms. We’ll explore these and other ways the analog humanities can help us think about digital media from technical and humanistic perspectives – going everywhere from abstraction to Afrofuturism.

Working together to evolve Content Storage

Proposed by Blaine Cook

Modern content management is about 30 years old, and that messy computational translation from pure thought and aesthetic intent to the screen has been central to the evolution of the forms that depend on it.

From the first attempts at SGML at scale by the OED, to HTML-in-Wordpress, to Markdown and AMP and so many others, there have been countless attempts at preserving the intent of writers, editors, and designers across the gap between our editorial back-offices and the mass printing press of our users’ many and varied devices.

The solutions we’ve had have been fraught in so many different ways. The unmaintainable solipsistic mess that always seems to result from giving editors access to tweak the raw HTML. The arcane incantations of Markdown, a hex cast by console-dwelling developers to curse users for their ever-stymying needs. AMP, Apple News, and FBIA, those trojan horses of platform control over publishing, the life-blood of content.

We spend a lot of time trying to massage content into the right forms in order to display it efficiently, and most importantly to create interesting new ways for authors, editors, and designers to express their ideas creatively and efficiently. The proliferation of device form factors isn’t helping to make it easy.

This discussion is intended to be a space for attendees to share their frustrations with existing systems, and their current attemptsto address these problems. We’d also like explore the significant possibilities that could emerge from [a] shared and extensible approach[es] to content storage.

Support the Middle: Together, we can build tools to help the smallest newsrooms

Proposed by Sara Konrad Baranowski

In many rural newsrooms, it’s not uncommon to find one or two reporters covering entire communities. They write stories, take photos, record audio, shoot video, manage a website and interact with the audience on social media. They’re dedicated to their mission of finding and sharing news, but they face challenges: it’s difficult to recruit media professionals to rural areas; burnout is common; and many news organizations lack the knowledge and training necessary to incorporate new technology. Nonetheless, they push forward. Some are trying new storytelling methods, learning new technology and developing innovative ways to reach and grow their audience. They are small, but mighty. And with a little help, they could be mightier. Let’s have a conversation about the challenges small, rural organizations face, and then brainstorm the best ways to help them. Maybe that’s through new technology, or training that’s accessible to them where they work. It may be as simple as a virtual support network that ties small newsrooms together so they can encourage each other and share best practices. As these rural news operations grow stronger and become more digital, they’ll be able to share their stories with a wider audience. That will benefit the individual organizations, but it will also help the wider audience - the cities and the coasts - see a more complete picture of the country.

Bring Out Your Dead: lessons in massively parallel records request from 2000 FOIAed obituaries

Proposed by Parker Higgins

Sometimes the art of the FOIA lies in knowing exactly what record you want to request, and hounding it down until you get it. Other times, though, there are benefits to casting a wide net and requesting things that would be interesting if they exist. FOIA The Dead, a project that files a FOIA request to the FBI for the subject of every New York Times obituary as it’s published, is an example of the latter. In this session, we’ll discuss what other kinds of problems can be solved with parallel automated records requests, and give participants the tools to start filing.

Design Patterns for Open Data: The Quest for Stories and Impact

Proposed by M C McGrath

Open data portals. Leaked documents. Open source intelligence. FOIA requests. Open data is the future of journalism, transparency, and accountability! Or is it? We keep collecting data, but we already have too much to process and information alone accomplishes nothing. How can we sort through open data more effectively to find high-impact stories?

Effective analysis of open data is difficult, but it can be done and there are many success stories. Through storytelling and brainstorming, this session aims to explore possible “design patterns” for investigations using large open datasets. We’ll start with participants sharing experiences of what has and hasn’t worked for them when using open data in the past. Then we’ll come up with a few investigative questions that could be explored with open data discuss the data sources, analysis methods, and approaches that could be used to answer these questions. At the end of the session, we’ll discuss the patterns we see in high-impact applications of open datasets- useful combinations of data sources, particularly effective analysis methods, and the most helpful types of questions to ask.

Getting heard in the herd

Proposed by Annabel Church

How do you discover your next greatest love? That podcast you want to listen to, at the exclusion of human interaction. And once you have found your favourite episode or series that you exuberantly want to share - how do you share that with your friends?

With podcasting becoming increasingly popular and we get excited by new stories and new methods; marketing has moved from word of mouth to in network advertising and recommendation services, consumption has gained some new apps, and sharing can (sometimes) be done by series, episode and by clip.

Let’s go further and figure out what can we do to make podcasts more accessible, sharable and enjoyable.

Manager Is the Loneliest Number

Proposed by Sarah Squire

Where are my fellow managers at? As a new manager, I’ve faced a slew of new challenges — hiring, team building, training, how to give feedback, goal setting, meeting structures — with little to no formal preparation, and it’s hard to find answers on StackOverflow or ask for help on Twitter. For any managers looking for advice or with tips and experience to share, let’s talk through our problems, share mottos (you all have mottos, right?) and meet fellow managers we can turn to for help in the future. Send in questions or problems you’d like addressed ahead of time (or show up with them!), and bring success stories to share.

Not a manager? You’re welcome too! Your perspective is important (after all, us managers exist to help you succeed). And for anyone interested or considering management in the future, this is a chance to hear about some of the less glamorous parts of the job. As some topics may be delicate or personal, this session will be off the record. We’ll split into smaller groups to separate managers from their team members as necessary.

Do you feel safe?

Proposed by Pamela L Assogba

When you think about your job, what are the first five things that come to mind? Is safety one of them? By definition, safety is the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. Do you feel that your job provides such a space for you and your peers? This discussion will take a look at this issue from the inside out. First, we will compare and contrast what we deem fundamentally safe and unsafe on an individual level. We will see how culture, ethnicity, upbringings, and general background influence us. For instance, what would be the differences between a Black woman’s definition of safety and that of a Latino man. These definitions will be compared to the workplace’s environment. How closely do these align? With the comparison’s results, we will take a deeper look at:

  • how companies maintain safe spaces (or why it isn’t working)
  • diversity in leadership: how leadership is involved + leadership demographics and how it correlates to safety
  • transparency and communication in the company
  • and more… During the discussion’s last segment, I would love for us all to create a short ‘safety kit’ that we can all keep for future reference, and maybe share with our companies! Either to congratulate them for doing the right things or to kindly nudge them in the right direction.

What pieces of the elections toolkit are we missing and how can we build them?

Proposed by Greg Linch

It’s never too early to start planning for elections! The 2016 cycle saw the release of Elex, a Python wrapper built by the New York Times and NPR for the Associated Press’ results API. In early 2017, McClatchy released an open-source version of their all-in-one elections rig, which uses Elex. With these projects available to reduce unnecessary repetition of work, what tools do we still need to have a complete elections toolkit? Bring your ideas for what’s missing and how we can build them. Some examples might include a library for converting AP’s test schedule emails into structured data or a UI framework for results maps and tables.

Conway’s Law of Content Management: Organizing teams in the twilight of the Monolithic CMS

Proposed by David Yee

A flood of new story formats, platforms, and distribution models make the maintenance of a single monolithic content management system increasingly unsustainable, and as your organization rises to the challenge of new models of journalism, your codebase follows suit. The business calls for a modular and presentation-agnostic content model—but how is it stored and modified? Syndication platforms need rendering pipelines—should you extract a reusable system from your owned-and-operated platform? You have plans for a more responsive and API-client-driven toolset—why couple it with your websites? The last five years have completely transformed the way we conceive of CMS architectures, potentially leading to dramatically more granular and focused microsystems. Why is this the case, and how does it affect the work of the people who support them? Most importantly: how, by being thoughtful about the structures of our teams, can we infer smart and maintainable systems that are built to expect the unexpected?

Conway’s Law can wreak havoc on teams as they pivot from monoliths to modular content management platforms. In this session, we’ll learn how to carefully delineate the boundaries between systems and teams to reduce crosstalk and latency (for networks of both servers and people), talk through the many Disciplines of Content to help divide team responsibilities, and think about notions of ownership and stewardship when you have twice as many codebases as engineers on your teams.

Let’s build and launch a community-curated resource list for digital security -- in just over an hour!

Proposed by Matt Perry

The internet needs a living, community-curated list of the best resources and tools for journalists interested in digital security. So let’s just build one! The huge variety of excellent tools, manuals, links and best practices regarding digital security for journalists can be hard to navigate. Those helpful indices and best-of guides that do exist are not assembled collaboratively by the community of journalists who use them and are sometimes updated only sporadically, if at all. In this focused working session, we’ll break into rotating groups to assemble a list of the best resources in three areas: security guides and getting-started resources, secure communication tools/practices and personal digital security resources. Through the magic of Github/Pages, we’ll publish our work by the end of the session and establish a framework for future contributions. Everyone will leave this session with not only a new, useful resource, but also the invitation, ability and (hopefully) motivation to edit and evolve it into the future.

Beyond FOIA: Brainstorming Other Ways To See What Your Government Is Up To

Proposed by Jacob Harris

FOIA is an awesome tool for government transparency, but FOIA is often also slow and easily blocked by various exceptions. In this session, we’ll look at some of the other ways in which the federal government publicizes what it is up to and how you can use that to figure out things before you must resort to FOIA.

#newsgrets - News Gone Wrong

Proposed by Iain Collins

In this session we’ll share our experiences with our work which we felt went slightly (or terribly) wrong. I’m happy to kick off with some examples of my own personal disasters and invite everyone to share their experiences.

Whether it’s things that didn’t scale, technology choices laden with regret, code that proved difficult to deploy or maintain, bad practices, challenging team dynamics, terrible user experiences, time spent building things that no-one used or didn’t get launched, unburden your soul and share your tales of woe with the room and help us identify themes and figure out what we can learn from it all.

Mentorship at Scale: How The NYT Women in Tech group build a mentorship program for 250+ people in our free time

Proposed by Erica Greene

Everyone agrees that mentorship is a good thing, but formal mentorship programs often fail because they are too time consuming to run. The Women in Tech group at The Times decided to tackle this problem last year and was able to create a mentorship program (for women and men!) that rolled out to the entire digital organization. We will share tips, discuss the lessons we learned and run a condensed version of the goal planning and peer coaching workshops that are part of the program.

Book Swap

Proposed by Ben Keith

Bring a book or three; leave with different books. We’ll keep track of the number of books you donate with some sort of token that you can trade in for another book, if you want to browse before leaving with a book.

The goal is to not have any spare books left over at the end of SRCCON.

A camera in a library rotates around a freestanding book carousel

How can we create a nurturing environment for journalists seeking job growth within newsrooms facing cutbacks?

Proposed by Vanessa Martinez

As newsrooms shrink, it’s important for managers to nurture young journalists to grow new skills in today’s digital journalism world. It’s easy to divide workloads between employees, but these added duties without a pay raise can create a sentiment of being stuck. Let’s brainstorm possible solutions for retaining folks with cross-departmental skills or interests in our newsroom amid budget cuts and layoffs, and make giving them room to grow a priority.

Using and Abusing Typography: How Social Video Is Playing Games With Your Heart

Proposed by Dolly Li

News is competitive. Digital news, even more so. And when we’re all playing in the same space of news feeds and closed captioning, text must find a way to captivate an audience. But manipulating typography has been an age-old trick of tabloid magazines and sensationalized journalism, so why have we allowed some of these tactics to leak into the realm of digital journalism? Intentional or not, our use and abuse of typography brings up everything from silly snafus, like announcing the wrong winner of Miss Universe, to deeply unethical content that can stir fear and manipulate an audience’s point of view. Let’s explore how we may be using and abusing type in our newsrooms, how to avoid unethical treatment of typography, and what we can do to leverage text to our advantage and our audience’s advantage.

Objectivity in the Modern Newsroom

Proposed by Lauren Benichou

For decades, journalists have adhered to ethical codes of conduct that prevented them from taking political stances. These rules were established at a time when diversity in newsrooms was not nearly as prominent of an issue as it is now and when journalists did not have social media accounts.

Now that Donald Trump is president and now that the issue of diversity in newsrooms is on everyone’s mind, we want to look at the future of these codes.

What does it mean to be an immigrant in a newsroom when the president has based much of his campaign on anti-immigrant sentiments? How does a transgender reporter take personal politics out of their job when legislative steps are encroaching on their everyday rights?

In this session, we present and discuss codes of conduct from various newsrooms before splitting up into groups and writing one together, one that will take into account the reality of modern journalism.

Sailing the pirate ship: running a startup inside a bigger company

Proposed by Martin McClellan

Making any startup run is hard work, but there are specific challenges – and specific benefits – to running one inside a bigger company.

Some topics of conversation:

  • Risk vs. stability
  • Rolling your own vs. leveraging existing company platforms
  • Equity vs. job security
  • Nesting dolls corporate executive structures
  • Being a company inside of a division.
  • Spinning up vs. finding external funding.
  • How do I do this at my own company?

Why us?

Breaking News germinated inside, when it was still an independent joint venture of Microsoft and NBC. We had good neighbors – the company had bought NEWSVINE and EveryBlock. We became a part of NBC News when they fully bought out in 2014. At our height, we had 20 employees, evenly split between product and editorial.

Designing for Everyone

Proposed by Aaron Jorbin

This is a simulation and design activity. We’ll start by looking at some of the ways we need to consider the needs of users we forget about. In groups, we will explore a refreshed article page for a hypothetical publication but will do so with some members of the group being given temporary disabilities through the use of tools such as blindfolds, ear plugs, and arm slings. While debriefing the design simulation, we’ll also explore how the decisions we made will benefit more than just the disabled users they were originally designed for.

Life on Other People's Platforms

Proposed by Luigi Ray-Montanez

AMP! Apple News! Snapchat! Flipboard! Hoobastank!

These days, the modern media outlet is expected to be on all platforms, all the time. How do we help our organizations thrive in this distributed world? This session focuses on the tactics: the decisions we make and the actions we take to ensure that our stories are seen far and wide.

  • What are we looking to achieve when we distribute our content?
  • Which platforms are easy (an RSS feed) and which are hard (a real-time API with a proprietary format)?
  • How do we prioritize which platforms to be on?
  • How do editorial processes change when a story is going to be published on different platforms which we don’t fully control?
  • What do publishing tools look like when content creation no longer targets a single owned-and-operated platform?
  • How do we learn from these platforms? What if they’re actually on to something in terms of audience experience?

Steal This Idea: Audience Engagement Strategies That Work

Proposed by Sarah Moughty

The title says it all. We’ll kick off the session with some examples from our own work – from getting people to talk about their own mortality (#WhatMattersMost) to asking them to share what was motivating their vote in the 2016 election (#MyTopIssue) to “inviting” them to a historical event (don’t forget to tag your +1!)

But more importantly we want to hear from others – what’s worked for you? Why? What would you have done differently? And how have you built upon your success?

This will be a fun, creative, rapid-fire session.

AMP & Instant Articles Group Therapy Session

Proposed by Mo Jangda

Over a year on, have Accelerated Mobile Pages and Instant Articles made the web great again?

Let’s compare notes on how Google and Facebook’s schemes have affected our sites, our readers, and the bottom line. What has worked and what hasn’t for each of the formats, from an editorial and technical standpoint? What pains us the most about the services? How are we feeling, really? We’ll get it all off our chests.

Then, with a bigger focus on interactive content with AMP and newer developments likely to be announced between now and SRCCON – especially for Instant Articles at F8 in April – we will also look towards the future. What changes are coming, and what changes would we as publishers like to see? How can we plot together to make them happen?

Creative ways to break people out of their bubbles

Proposed by Cathy Deng

After election 2016, more people are aware of the insular bubbles they live in. How can we encounter more people beyond our existing networks? Let’s review some existing projects that attempt to burst bubbles, discuss challenges/dangers/pitfalls, and brainstorm ways to escape echo chambers.

Keeping sane at work: Talking about mental health

Proposed by Kavya Sukumar

There is a lot of stigma around talking about mental health that often most of us choose to remain silent about it. After all no one wants to come off as “crazy” to their co-workers. Mental illness spans a spectrum from ridiculed to romanticized. Certain mental conditions are praised and talked about as desirable traits. Statements like “She is OCD about code styles,” are often passed around as compliments.

Let’s talk about talking about mental health at workplace. Let us collectively try to answer some of these questions and more.

How and when should you talk about mental health? Who should your share it with? How do you draw the line between sharing and oversharing? How can managers and co-workers do better wellness-checks without seeming intrusive? How do you talk about your clinical diagnosis and distinguish it from hyperbole when words like bipolar, addiction, OCD and depression are thrown around casually?

This will be an off-the-record conversation where we discuss some issues and problems and walk away with ideas for self-care. We hope that the participants walk away feeling that they are not alone.

Humans are irrational! & what it means for journalists

Proposed by Cathy Deng

As much as we’d love to believe that people are rational, fact-driven creatures…our brains aren’t wired that way. Our mental heuristics (aka shortcuts) serve us well as cavemen in securing food and avoiding predators. However, these mental tendencies can become dangerous when we evaluate complex information, interpret the news, and develop political beliefs. Let’s review some interesting findings from cognitive science and discuss their practical implications for journalists.

UNIONIZE! Pros and cons of being in a union and how to unionize your newsroom

Proposed by Moiz Syed

The Intercept newsroom just went thru a unionizing drive and joined the Writer’s Guild Association ( Being part of the union organizing committee we dealt with the challenges of unionizing. Given that we’re in an era where the journalism community is under persistent attack from the Trump regime, we want more newsrooms to unionize across the country.

In this session we want to have a broader discussion about unionizing, focusing on the pros and cons and the process of joining a union.

The Life-Changing Magic of Media Mentorship

Proposed by David Yee

What does effective and meaningful mentorship look like in an industry whose shape is rapidly and anxiously shifting? Does the advice of an engineer or editor who’s been in the weeds for a while still hold true amidst new platforms, storytelling formats, and organizational structures? What this conversation presupposes is that, as a group, we can expose a framework for mentorship in media organizations circa 2017 that optimizes for change, flexibility, smart work, and self-care without compromising on the actual work of journalism, engineering, and information design.

In this session, we’ll talk about both sides of the equation—the experience of being both a mentor and a mentee (if you’re lucky, you’ve been in both situations)—and experiment with conversational frameworks that emerge from the best examples of this interaction, focusing on common issues for careers at all stages in evolving newsrooms and media companies.

How to do anti-fascist work with fascist state data.

Proposed by Akil Harris

Under the Trump regime the question of how you can reframe biased state collected data under the lens of anti-fascist narratives becomes even more crucial. What are some of the ways to in which the data released by the state can be used in an anti-fascist way?

Drawing for your brain

Proposed by Jennifer LaFleur

Explore how the art of storytelling can begin with… art. In this session, Leah Kohlenberg, a former journalist and founder of The Roaming Studio, will lead you through a drawing exercise — yes, even those of you who say “I can’t draw” — and demonstrate how stirring your creative juices helps you tell better stories. She’s been doing this with news organizations and academic environments for a couple of years now, researching it along the way. Her early conclusion: It really works!

Cartoons and Funnies in the Newsroom

Proposed by Stefie Gan

Work in small groups where you tell stories with visuals. Not an artist? Abstraction is key! Ever looked at a drawing/graphic, and it’s not Michelangelo style but still appreciate the concept and storytelling? Drawings and graphics can be an effective way to react to the news. From drawing, collaging, to making gifs, brainstorm and make something fun. The newsroom can be very dynamic, there are more than one ways to tell a story! Think to yourself what kinds of stories do I want to draw or tell visually. Work together to come up with a story idea and how to show that visually, ranging from quick reactions to breaking news to an evergreen topic.

It’s time to be a product/design-thinking evangelist

Proposed by Helga Salinas

Legacy newsroom workflow can hold back any type of innovative thinking. Whether you have a print product or not, all newsrooms are affected by slower, more analog mindsets. Now’s the time for technologists, designers and the in-betweeners (journo-technologists) to spread the word about design and product thinking to editors and reporters. Whether it’s how to think of a story as a product or thinking about breaking news stories as MVPs, we feel thinking intentionally about features, roadmapping, iteration can make journalism stronger and newsrooms more efficient.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tools

Proposed by Ryan Osborn

Newsroom tools are increasingly at the center of change happening across diverse teams. And while it often sounds like technical problems being solved, it is most important to focus on culture and the people behind the processes.

Towards better metaphors: Accessible and inclusive ways to explain technical work

Proposed by Nicole Zhu

We’ll start with a brainstorm of common topics, concepts, and processes that we think would benefit from explanation on interdisciplinary teams, i.e. version control, APIs, web accessibility, HTTPS, staging vs. production. Then, we’ll divide into groups and come up with any and all relevant metaphors (if time allows, we’ll even do a GIF-based brainstorm!) We’ll eventually refine and narrow down a list of useful metaphors — and none of that “explain what you do to your mom” language — the outcome of this session will be accessible and inclusive metaphors for all!

New to the Newsroom?

Proposed by Stefie Gan

Finding allies, collaborating, following the news, finding your beat, and learning the reporter’s walk. For those of us entering journalism for the first time, there is a lot to learn. ie. How to keep up with the pace? We’ll break into groups and discuss things we have learned so far: resources good for new journalists, standard practices, ethics, incorporating artwork, personal columns, etc. Previous experiences from different industries can help inform the newsroom. Share your thoughts. For newsroom veterans, come by and provide your perspective and listen in on what newcomers are saying about the newsroom. Having a variety of voices in the newsroom is valuable.

Switching CMSes

Proposed by Liam Andrew

Is your newsroom moving to WordPress? Moving away from WordPress? Moving to your parent company’s CMS? Moving to Arc? Building a new CMS from scratch using Node? Rails? Django? (Are you using Django-CMS or Mezzanine or Wagtail?) Going headless with WordPress? Going headless with React?

…or is your newsroom paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the task of choosing and migrating to a new CMS, let along upgrading your current one?

This session is about the why and how of migrating your content to new systems. When is it time to change up your CMS, and why? When is it better to repair your ship instead of jumping off? What does the transition process look like– for instance, how do you handle your archival stories, or make sure your frontend and backend features are in sync? How do you pull it off (technically)? How do you pull it off (organizationally)? Most importantly: was it worth it?

Doing the Podcasting thing

Proposed by Mark Boas

Podcasting is becoming an increasingly popular form of expression. The barrier to entry is low, and the industry has a wide range of production values, but what tools, platforms and techniques do we all use to make sure we make the most of our podcasts? We’ll talk to podcasters and non-podcasters alike about their trials, tribulations and aspirations, discussing subjects as diverse as:

Recording equipment File formats Editing Assistive tools Distribution channels and platforms Promotion Running length and content Hopes and fears

  • Recording equipment
  • File formats
  • Editing
  • Assistive tools
  • Distribution channels and platforms
  • Promotion
  • Running length and content
  • Hopes and fears

Let’s Create a Roadmap for User Testing and Feedback in Newsrooms

Proposed by Sonja Marziano

Inviting audiences to share their feedback at all stages of the news process opens paths to better serve our communities. Yet in many newsrooms, we miss this opportunity and only engage our audiences post-publication. Often, we think of user research as something used exclusively for developing technology platforms. But it’s applicable to all kinds of newsroom workflows, from editorial to design to engagement to business development. Creating processes to learn and improve user experiences (UX) can lead to more inclusive digital platforms, content, and tools that share information and engage audiences.

When is user feedback valuable? Pretty much always: during the ideation, creation or validation phases for content, platforms, tools and experiences. However, at each of these stages, how and why we use audience feedback is subtly different. So, to navigate this process, we will work together to draw a project roadmap that outlines what types of user feedback can be collected at each stage, and what methods are most appropriate. We’ll identify and practice some impactful ways to gather and respond to user feedback. We will also brainstorm audience engagement tactics, such as: usability testing of interactive graphics on mobile devices, focus groups to decide next steps after a story is produced, or co-designing processes for audiences to engage with your organization in new ways.

Mid-Career Questions

Proposed by Chris Canipe

Congratulations! You’re a news developer. You’ve learned to code, and you’ve learned to hack it as a journalist. You’ve worked hard for this. Some of us are lucky enough to find mentors and camaraderie along side other talented tradesmen and women in this noble field. We build and publish ambitious bespoke interactive stories that break the article template. We build tools and libraries that leverage datasets to build maps and graphics on deadline. We tell stories and send them into the world to enlighten and inform. But how did we get here? What drove us into this field, and is that still what motivates us?

This is a discussion meant to answer mid-career questions: What’s interesting to you personally? What’s exciting about your job, your field, and the work you do, and how are you going to approach it? What does a meaningful career look like to you? What do you think you’ll be doing in 5 years? 10 years? …20 years?

Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I can’t lead

Proposed by Helga Salinas

Stereotype: I’m too quiet. I can’t be a leader. Stereotype: If I don’t show up to work social functions, I am seen as not committed. Stereotype: I can’t facilitate meetings. I can’t be a leader.

Too often, introverts are shoved aside as being too quiet, too meek, and not social enough to be a leader. In fact, introverts can add great value to teams: being great listeners, thinking differently about team culture, cultivating relationships with colleagues, to name a few. We want to push back on stereotypes about how we lead, how we run teams, how we manage, and how we take care of ourselves as we succeed.

The Ethics of Personalizing the News

Proposed by Katerina Iliakopoulou

Machine Learning is becoming an integral part of our lives more and more everyday. From what we buy to what we see on our Facebook feed, there’s an algorithm that tries to understand our habits, our preferences, even our mood when viewing content. What about news content? Should we create a custom user experience when it comes to journalism?

Let’s discuss doing personalization on news platforms. We will start from what a recommendations engine is and how it works. Then will dig deeper into the bigger questions that arise when trying to customize user’s experience when displaying news content:

  • How can we make sure the reader is not being kept in a news bubble, but she is still allowed to explore?

  • How can we make sure we are not promoting certain news stories more than others?

  • How can news editors be part of the process of personalizing the news?

  • Who holds the power? Journalists or Engineers?

  • What about readers’ data privacy?

  • Do readers get to choose when to receive personalized news content?

We will discuss all or at least most of the above ethical dilemmas and try to give answers based on our experiences in the workplace.

Fighting fake news with open formats and protocols

Proposed by Matt Terenzio

Open formats and protocols are one of the strongest weapons we have to fight some of the challenges that periodically arise in our world of technology. Can we use them to fight the problem of fake news and filter bubbles?

Maps and Storytelling

Proposed by Molly Lloyd

Maps are excellent tools for illustrating narratives and digesting complex data, but the world of mapping software is vast and can be intimidating. In this session, we will present an overview of the open source and proprietary software tools available for interactive web map design and development, and provide tips and tricks for processing geographic data and designing visually compelling base maps and data visualizations. We will facilitate a small group activity where you’ll have the chance to get your hands dirty and use a prompt story pitch and some raw data to design and create a custom map.

LOCAL DATA JOURNALISM STILL MATTERS (and we can make it better!)

Proposed by Carla Astudillo

Pothole locations, property tax bills, school test scores– local data is still vital to people’s daily lives and therefore, an important part of local news coverage. However, it can many times be tough to get ahold of and to deal with, especially when your editors expect New York Times level of quality with the budget and resources of the Pawnee Journal. In this session, we invite other local data journalists and enthusiasts to discuss the difficulties in working with local data and how can we make it better. How do we deal with local governments that give you data from a dot matrix printer? What are the best strategies to take national stories and localize them, especially when data might not exist on the local level? What’s the best way to showcase a data story that will really resonate with your readers who want to know more about what’s going on in their community? We’ll also be discussing our roles in small and ever-shrinking newsrooms, like we can maximize our usefulness without becoming a service desk. Join us to come up with a game plan to make local data journalism on par quality-wise with what the national newsrooms are doing.

The web platform is evolving rapidly. How can we keep up and shape it into the platform we want?

Proposed by Alastair Coote

The pace of news development makes it very difficult to keep up with the new features being pushed into web browsers every few weeks. And it makes it near-impossible to get involved in the proposal and development process for these features and new APIs while they are in their early stages. And that’s a shame, because it means that we have very little input into the tool the vast majority of our readers use to consume the content we create.

Maybe it’s time to get together and involve ourselves more in those processes. What features do we want browser manufacturers to add? What do news publishers want from the Notification API? What’s holding us back from using it right now? What issues do we have in playing video on the web right now? Or using audio more effectively?

This session will be an open discussion on how we can best organise ourselves. Do we set up a Slack room? A mailing list? How can we notify each other about new features, share our experiences working with them, or provide feedback on forthcoming features before they’re even developed?

Push don’t pitch: Conduct tiny experiments to push through ideas instead of pitching them

Proposed by Julia B. Chan

Pushing for projects with your managers can be hard. In resource-strapped newsrooms, diverting time and money towards digital experimentation can seem like a huge ask.

One way to get around that? Tiny experiments. Smaller initiatives can be implemented quickly to gather some initial intel that can inform the original idea, spur iteration and help to nudge a project forward.

Let’s talk through how to make a tiny experiment, implement it and, if we have time, prototype (or role play) one on the spot!

Do you Mine (d) ?

Proposed by Freyja van den Boom

Are you mining content to find important information ? Great ! Help us make more data openly available !

FutureTDM is a European project to see how we can improve the uptake of TDM and we came across various barriers: technical, legal and a lack of skill. This session aims to share experiences and skill and discuss what problems you may have faced and how together can help achieve the right to read is the right to mine !

Greasing the wheels of inter-newsroom collaboration

Proposed by Ken Schwencke

The Panama Papers, Electionland, Documenting Hate – in an age of shrinking newsrooms and big stories, collaboration between news organizations is key. Tools and systems that enable the many to work together – both off-the-shelf and custom – are a key ingredient to making that collaboration smooth. Together, we’ll talk about the pros, cons, and heartaches in getting newsrooms to collaborate, and explore the possibilities through fun, group activities.

Newsroom Threat Modeling 101

Proposed by Martin Shelton

Learning how to protect ourselves online is not just about installing security tools. It’s also about learning how our data flows, who see our data, and when. To understand the basics of protecting our data, in this guided exercise, we’ll learn threat modeling by examining where our data touches networks in everyday tasks.

News Development and Occam's Razor

Proposed by Erin Sparling

Product development, news hierarchy, storytelling capabilities and responsive experiences makes for a significant challenge in building products that handle the news. Add in cross- and off-platform and the mélange of choices makes following the golden path of spicing up an organization’s news experience incredibly difficult. Let’s help each other see across the dunes by talking through our respective organizations’ strategies for dealing with our readers’ ever bifurcating approach to consumption, and how to cut through the fog of the future to find the simplest solution.

The Product Game

Proposed by Austin Smith

The Product Game is a fun, intense, and highly interactive card and computer-based simulation of an entire Agile project, packed into a single hour-long game. The purpose of the game is to give digital professionals (i.e. designers and developers) and stakeholders (i.e. editorial and business leaders) the experience of collaborating on a project without actually having to produce any work.

Our seventy-five minutes are carefully planned. We’ll spend ten minutes getting into teams and going over the rules, then we’ll have one ten minute first round followed by nine five minute rounds. We’ll spend the last few minutes reviewing the results, announcing the winner, and debriefing, and we’ll share an explanation of the gameplay and scoring with all the players that they can take with them.

Attendees will be quickly split into teams at the beginning of the session based on their role within their organization, and each team will be given a deck of playing cards, plus a budget and a number of person-hours. Teams play their cards using a computer (one laptop is necessary per team) so that scores and account balances update in real time.

Each card is a user story, which costs person-hours and money to produce. Most cards require multiple turns to complete. Each turn represents a Sprint (in Agile sense) and lasts five minutes. A projector at the front of the room shows time remaining in the turn.

Each user story has a point value, but the value of each user story isn’t printed on the corresponding card, since product development is never that easy! The short project brief which all teams receive, and a comprehensive audience research report which teams can buy out of their allocated budget provide hints as to which stories are most valuable. Exceeding allotted time or cash budgets can impact the final score too.

As players engage in the game, what they’ll find is that there are a lot of tradeoffs. Work on lots of features poorly, or just one or two really well? Spend money on research, or save money and hope for the best? Skip QA to spend engineering hours on new features, or make sure all the bugs are squashed?

The product game is presented by Austin Smith, CEO of Alley Interactive, and Dan Maccarone, CEO of Charming Robot, but make no mistake: this isn’t a talk and we won’t have a slideshow, this is an entirely collaborative experience. We bring our experience executing dozens of projects to the game design, but the game itself is a fun workout for collaboration on digital teams, not a tutorial in product development.

We’ve played The Product Game twice: we debuted it at the VIP Workshop in 2015, and presented it again at Tribune Media in Chicago. These games focused on building a complete ad-supported digital news product. We’ll design a completely new case study for SRCCON which will feature a data-driven news app at a fictional news organization that must integrate with various existing systems, and we’ll custom print SRCCON cards with the user stories that will yield a finished product.

new sNerdFluxkit (2017)

Proposed by Scott Blumenthal

The Fluxkit, designed and assembled by George Maciunas in 1965, contained printed matter, a film, and a variety of objects including a “wood box with offset labels and rubber opening containing unknown object.” by the Fluxus artist Ay-O. The label read: “put finger in hole.”

Fluxus artists were playful revolutionaries who tried to undermine the authority of the museum, and the primacy of the artist, often by requiring the viewer to the complete (and, in doing so, co-create) a piece of art. To many of us, interactive has become a noun. But how interactive is your interactive, really? When’s the last time you stopped to consider just how revolutionary an idea it is to include your reader in the completion (or co-creation) of your work as a journalist?

In this session, we will disengage from our newsrooms and our tools and our data sets for a while and think about the essence of interaction. What entices us to reach beyond ourselves and affect the world? What do we expect? What makes those experiences rewarding? Is there a difference between exploration and interaction? How does individual action differ from communal participation?

Along the way, we’ll consider a range of contrived, non-journalistic, interactive experiences: religious services, Fluxus happenings, game nights, and dance parties. And we’ll ask why some experiences that invite interaction meet with indifference or refusal.

Finally, we will take our inspiration and create instructions for building a digital interactive experience, and exchange them with each other. Take your instructions home. Follow them. After SRCCON, we’ll publish all the interactives together as new sNerdFluxkit (2017).

Avoiding the Avalanche: Strategies for staying on top of work instead of being buried by it

Proposed by Brent Jones

Let’s find out about your systems for managing all the “stuff” that gets thrown your way at work. Whether it’s org-mode or Omnifocus, Bullet Journal or a single, giant list please come share how you get organized to get things done. If you don’t have a system, that’s ok too! You’ll hear why your colleagues think their methods are worth the time investment, and find out how to get started.

We’ll talk about the different kinds of stuff we have to manage and why it’s important to have a system. We’ll walk through a workday to see what kind of “stuff” comes our way, then talk with each other about how we handle each kind. We’ll talk about ways to avoid inbox bloat and make decisions about inputs. And finally we’ll share other particular pain points or tips & tricks for managing day-to-day tasks.

Introducing EXTRA: An open source project to classify news text using rules

Proposed by Katerina Iliakopoulou

How do you tag news content? How do you understand what keywords are relevant to the story or what taxonomy an article belongs to? Being able to tag news efficiently is a valuable asset for any news organization that wants to have an online presence, but many news outlets are struggling nowadays when it comes to tagging.

In this session, we will first take some time to talk about why news tagging is important and which areas it can particularly prove useful for. When is Machine Learning useful? And where do we get taxonomies from? Then, we will present EXTRA (“EXTraction Rules Apparatus”), an open source project that was developed by IPTC ( with the support of Google DNI and allows news editors to precisely identify the categories to which a piece of news belongs to. The system manages to recommend the most relevant categories using Boolean rules, with sophisticated natural language processing capabilities. We particularly look for the audience to share their views and experience on news tags and taxonomies, what problems they have had or know of and ways they could be solved. Then we will show how this new open source tool can help editors in newsrooms build their own taxonomy system and will let the participants interact with the system and try building their own rules to categorize news stories.

Songs of Love and Hate and Interactive Content

Proposed by Michael Donohoe

You’re being asked to build the next Snow Fall (“Hello, 2012 called and they’d like this and Snooki back”) and all you can do is drop in an iframe that won’t resize properly, or sneak in a SCRIPT tag into the article text and knowingly break the AMP version. And you have an hour.

What if we were to tell you there was a way to have your cake and eat it. Leverage your existing article as the ultimate fallback, learn how to incorporate best practices and practical techniques , and you are free to transform the page however you need.

Revising the user-experience, GIFs, ambient video background, interactive charts, iframes to the obscure, re-skinning. Have it all.

Using our combined experience from Quartz, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and Hearst, this session will start from the basic workarounds to leverage today, and increasingly advanced techniques that are considerate of sharing, SEO, web page performance, ads, deployment, version control, and much more…

Connecting your data projects to the CMS...and each other

Proposed by Liam Andrew

Many data projects, apps, and graphics are built as “one-offs”, which means they struggle to integrate with the core site and CMS. This leads to a glut of disorganized tools and projects; we shudder as we page through our GitHub repos and S3 buckets, where orphan graphics and datasets lie abandoned. There is great potential in indexing and connecting these projects, to help audiences and reporters alike discover and maintain our institutional resources. This can give a running start to new projects, and connect everyday stories to the larger narratives and investigations around the newsroom. What does your CMS know about your graphics, data apps, and visualizations? If the answer is “not much”, do you maintain a list or wiki to index and record your output? Do you have a typology of data projects? Can your CMS connect resources between disparate projects? For those who have managed successful initiatives in this area, what technical solutions and cognitive frameworks helped you get there?

How Do You Stack Your Tech Deck?

Proposed by Matt Johnson

An ever-growing cornucopia of tools, frameworks, packages, and languages beckons to newsroom developers and media technologists. Whether you’re an individual developer or part of a large, medium, or small team, deciding which technologies to invest your time and sweat equity into may be one of the most important and complex decisions you make. Do we use an old standby that we know really well, or we forge out and try something new? How do we balance following technological passions and interests while still making sure everyone on the team knows how to work with the codebase? Are the benefits of getting in on the ground floor of something new worth the risks? How do you know if your team has the expertise to pull it off, or if your organization has the resources?

Making climate change personal

Proposed by Felix Michel

Global warming is quite possibly the biggest challenge humanity is facing in our lifetime. Yet, we are having a hard time getting the message through: According to a 2016 Pew report, less than half of Americans believe that man-made global warming is real*.

Climate change is a complex topic but also diffuse and impersonal – hard to grasp for both the audience and us journalists. In this session, we’ll work on better understanding climate change issues and on finding new, relatable ways to communicate them. We’ll play a game in which we step in the shoes of climate change deniers, beneficiaries, but most importantly of those who suffer from the effects of global warming. Based on our learnings from that, we’ll come up with new ideas for communicating global warming, its reasons, and its effects on people’s lives – through graphics, interactive storytelling, or whatever else we can prototype on paper.


The Future Of News That Wasn't

Proposed by Joel Eastwood

Daily iPad editions. Audio slideshows. Snowfall everything. Publish with Facebook / Apple / Google / RSS / VR / ???. The Next Big Thing will save the journalism industry, until it doesn’t, by which point we’re already onto the next Next Big Thing. Let’s remember the forgotten futures, share our own favorite failed experiments (was it “too weird” or “not Times-ian” enough?), and acknowledge that most innovation leads to failure – and no single Next Big Thing will save us.

Working with data: Where was that spreadsheet? Wait, why has it changed?

Proposed by Seth Vincent

In what ways do you interact with datasets? How might those interactions be improved? In this workshop we’ll work through a series of small-group exercises to identify:

  • how we find, store, analyze, and publish data right now, and how those methods fail us
  • what gets in our way of keeping data organized and reusable
  • the kinds of training team members need to work with data
  • ways we might improve our day-to-day data work

By the end of the workshop you’ll have a clearer understanding of what issues you face when working with data, learned from the experiences of other participants, and started a plan for improving how your newsroom works with data.

Information Security for Mere Mortals

Proposed by Joel Eastwood

Hackers have your passwords, ISPs can sell your browsing history, and the CIA presumably knows everything. In a world of internet-connected fridges (and microwaves?) it is hard to separate prudence from paranoia, and easy to be so overwhelmed you do nothing at all. We’ll share best practices for journalists working on deadline to secure their communications and identity, and discuss practical strategies to help your colleagues and your sources protect their privacy online.

Practical approaches for creating software to cover democracy

Proposed by Aaron Williams

In the current political environment, news cycles are getting shorter and the amount of work that needs to be done is greater by the day. We would like to discuss practical approaches newsrooms are taking to cover American democracy in the age of Trump, from building databases to automating information changes to making life easier for on-the-ground reporters and everything in between.

How to apply a product design process to your storytelling projects

Proposed by Kelsey Scherer

We all know that breaking down the walls between editorial, design, and engineering is beneficial to not only our newsroom products but also to the stories we share with our audience. But we’re just scraping the surface of collaboration between writers and designers. In many newsrooms the design process is something that happens at the very end of a project, and usually consists of applying a layer of visual design to a completed project.

If we apply traditional product design processes such as brainstorms, rapid iteration, and user testing to our storytelling products, we can make better experiences for our audience. By taking an example story concept, we will do a design brainstorm to think of different ways to tell one story. Participants will also leave with documentation and examples of how they can apply all parts of the product design process to a story.

What the hell is our problem?

Proposed by Robert Hernandez

Look around you, in your newsroom. How diverse are your developers and data journalists? Progressive journalism schools have been producing women, people of color, women of color that are developers and data journalists… but they aren’t getting hired. This ain’t no pipeline problem. At some point we need to stop talking about diversity and start hiring or realize we are the problem in this equation.

Teachers' Lounge: Talking Tips and Strategies for Effective Teaching to Groups

Proposed by Lisa Waananen Jones

It’s surprisingly easy to end up in a teaching role without any particular training in how to teach. Whether you teach regularly or just occasionally (like leading sessions at conferences, hint, hint), come join this crash course in how we can teach to groups more effectively. We’ll take a quick look at recent trends and research in pedagogy for strategies you can use, then talk through common classroom problems such as needy and know-it-all students, questions you can’t answer off-hand, and how to deal if you don’t fit your students’ expectations about what a teacher is like.

Live Coverage Forms For (and From) the Immediate Future

Proposed by Tiff Fehr

Liveblogs in 2016 are very different from live coverage in 2017. Breaking news formats have evolved. So have story pace and reader preferences. The New York Times has moved away from liveblogs towards a handful of new forms, each under active guidance/editing. The Guardian Mobile Lab is prototyping a future for live coverage that moves beyond the single pageview towards self-updating and sequential notifications, alongside “shifting lenses” to give different perspectives throughout a live event. But even the newest ideas continue to wrestle with being seen as a Product and all that entails.
Let’s discuss the latest habits — for newsrooms, readership and notifications — and the future of live coverage tools.

Keeping Up With the Code Fashion Trends

Proposed by Elliot Bentley

It can sometimes feel as if every week there’s some new framework or build tool or language in vogue. Such is the nature of the tech industry, but in a busy newsroom it can be difficult to find the opportunity to explore new shiny things while meeting tight deadlines and reacting to breaking news. On the other hand, lagging too far behind can leave us with out-of-date practices and isolated from the wider industry. In this session, we’ll be discussing how to get this balance right, how to adopt new tech within teams and departments without leaving anyone behind, and how to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out). Finally, we will work together to come up with a practical criteria for evaluating new technologies.

The Drawbridge Exercise: an exploration of power

Proposed by Jenny Ye

Come challenge and explore your perspective on power as an individual and in a group. We’ll facilitate the classic Drawbridge Exercise often used in anti-racism trainings, and look for ways that it might strengthen our storytelling. We hope that this exercise is mentally, socially, and emotionally enlightening. It might be more fun if you don’t Google the activity beforehand.

This just in... You can plan for breaking news

Proposed by Chris Keller

News breaks and journalists & editors scramble to react. Afterward shoulders are shrugged and we say “Forget it, Jake. It’s breaking news.” That’s how it works right?

But that’s not how it needs to work. What if instead we could approach breaking news situations with a sense of calm and confidence? What if we considered the who, what, where, why and how of things that could happen, and simply left the when to chance?

Put simply - let’s all plan for the news that could/will happen in our market and consider a needs assessment.

What background information and context should be at or near our fingertips? How to teach a reporting staff to know what their first “reads” are of a situation given their beat? What roles need to be filled first to get a handle on the news? What efficient and non-repetitive methods of managing information exist? How can we receive information from our audience? How can we convey meaningful information to our audience? And what traps exist?

How do we protect our users privacy?

Proposed by Ian Carrico

Hackers, state programs, malicious advertising code, coffeeshop snoopers, airline Wi-fi— all of these have the potential to steal our users personal information. What responsibility do we have to protect our users information? How can we achieve those responsibilities? How can we be honest with our users about what we do not have control over?

There are a lot questions swirling about privacy on the internet, and we want to dive into the tough questions we have to ask ourselves about how role to protect users on the internet today.

Designing visualizations for mobile

Proposed by Gurman Bhatia

Several data visualisation folks, including myself, have had to kill babies because they aren’t meant for smaller/vertical devices. Another thing most of us have done in the past is making an amazing interactive visualisation for bigger screens and having a static version of it for mobile devices.

To overcome this struggle that always ends with me cursing the existence of phones, I have been wireframing first for the mobile and then for desktop. It helps me avoid thinking of visualisations that would never work on a phone. That is just the first step.

In this session we’ll discuss more of such approaches - strategies and pointers to make better visualisations. These are visualisations that are not scaled down to work on the phone, but provide a rich experience irrespective of a user’s device. After going over the pointers, we’ll distribute some story ideas and sketch out a mobile wireframe/data viz to apply all that we learnt!

Keeping up with evolving platforms: Designing and developing with constraints

Proposed by Kavya Sukumar

Readers are increasingly relying on apps like Apple News and Facebook to get their news and relying less on directly sourcing information from media websites. If news organizations only publish stories on our own websites we’re missing out on a huge opportunity to read a wider, more diverse audience. However, investing engineering and design time into supporting a wide variety of platforms is not always feasible — each platform has their own set of constraints that makes building something for each is time consuming. With this session, we’d like to pose a few questions: How might we pare down interactivity to fit constraints of each platform without sacrificing innovation? How might we maintain quality of code and design when creating two or more versions of the same story? How might we make better tools to allow for more newsrooms to take advantage of publishing on distributed platforms?

Exploring the Radio Spectrum for News

Proposed by Jon Keegan

Once the exclusive domain of scientists, engineers and HAM radio operators, a new generation of cheap hardware and open source software have cracked open the radio spectrum for hackers and hobbyists – and journalists – to explore. Radios are built into dozens of devices we use every day, and the radio spectrum is a tightly regulated, poorly understood invisible national asset. There are stories flying around in the air around you, and it’s time you started looking for them. Using the popular $20 RTL-SDR USB dongle (limited quantities will be provided at the workshop) we will get you up and running with the tools you’ll need to track aircraft flying over your head, listen to emergency responder radios and download weather satellite images WITHOUT THE INTERNET. We’ll also look at some interesting examples of how the radio spectrum has been used in reporting the news.

I've made mistakes, you've made mistakes, we've all made mistakes. And it's OK

Proposed by Sandhya Kambhampati

You’re not alone. We’ve all made mistakes. Let’s talk about our biggest or smallest mess-ups, things we learned from them and what others can do to avoid making the same mistakes. Maybe you cleared your computer by accident or had to issue several corrections on a story. Whatever it is, we’re here to support each other.

In this off-the-record conversation, we’ll talk about some of the mistakes we’ve made and some tricks on how to keep calm after them. We’ll also brainstorm ways you can avoid a potential disaster.

How do we change our minds anyway?

Proposed by Marie Connelly

As thoughtful and deliberate as we try to be, we’re all still human, and the overwhelming majority of us tend to seek out information that confirms what we already believe to be true. That’s a problem. As media organizations, we’re only serving a fraction of our communities if we can only reach those who already know and agree with the stories we’re sharing. So, what actually encourages people to consider perspectives that differ from their own, and how do we create more space for that?

In this session, we’ll dig in on these questions and get a little vulnerable as we try to create that space for ourselves. We’ll talk about how people come to believe what they believe, and look at the latest research around confirmation bias, the backlash effect, and other factors that shape how we make decisions and, ultimately, change our minds. In small groups, we’ll talk about areas where our perspectives have changed over time, and reflect on the forces that helped us change our point of view. We’ll surface common themes as a group and discuss ways these experiences could inform and—dare we say—change the way we approach our work.

Custom data tools: How do we stop building bespoke CMSes?

Proposed by Moiz Syed

We’re sick of building custom newsroom tools that do the same thing over and over again for different projects with a range of different data requirements. This year we’re in the middle of building three big data tools for our newsroom that are making us question some of our ways. We want to have some reflection and a discussion with the SRCCON community and share/gather some best practices in how we can move beyond building bespoke CMSes.

Why Isn’t Agile Solving All of My Problems?

Proposed by Jared Novack

After years, you’ve finally convinced your bosses/clients/teams to go agile — but why do the same stubborn problems remain? Sprints get interrupted, editors can’t define acceptance criteria, and the newsroom still doesn’t get along with the ad team. We’ll work in small groups, to discuss the problems (or questions) that still exist in “newsroom agile.” In part two, groups will share some of the problems and talk about solutions we’ve tried or ideas on how to get the most out of news developers, while grappling with the realities of the news cycle.

A Quiet Week: A game about making the news

Proposed by Ben Keith

This session will adapt the freeform map-building game The Quiet Year to the context of a newsroom, with players playing as themselves within a newsroom covering a big story on a four-day deadline. A deck of cards is split into four suits; each suit represents a day and each card an hour. Draw a card, read the prompt, and determine how it affects your story in progress. The goal is to make it to the deadline with everything you need to publish the story.

After 55 minutes of play, we’ll come back together to talk about sources of tension between different aspects of the newsroom, ways that people worked together, and how you might have handled things differently given a second chance.

Building a career outside of your job: the ways we create side hustles and start freelancing

Proposed by Elite Truong

When we meet someone new at conferences like this one, we usually ask “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?” as in, where do you work? Our work can become a huge part of our identities, especially as passionate, smart people with ambition who look to find purpose in their work. That’s a really tall order as we advance in our careers and struggle to find meaning in our work with one job. During this session, we’ll discuss the things we want to do and impact with our work; the big stuff that we want to accomplish in our careers; the projects we want to run, not backlog. How do we start building those opportunities outside of our jobs to grow our careers? How can we create side projects at work and become an “intrapreneur” so you have institutional resources? What should we look for in full time work that is compatible with your career, and how do you navigate that line?

Data: They walk among us!

Proposed by Ashley Wu

Sometimes it’s hard to see the data ~right before our eyes~. In this session, we’ll talk about ways for people to find sources of inspiration for data-driven stories within communities they cover, even if no dataset currently exists. What if you collected the results of your readers grading the president or used crowdsourcing to find out where cicadas are swarming (both real examples!) to tell stories about your community?

We’ll talk about how to look for patterns in everyday occurrences to create structured datasets out of text, images, public statements and more, which can enrich and inform our storytelling. We’ll also look at some surprising data sets that already exist and discuss how to incorporate them into our own coverage and use them find new story ideas. Together, we’ll brainstorm data-driven stories inspired by what we find during our stay in Minneapolis, around SRCCON, or even the just in the room we’re in. We’ll workshop some of those ideas and expand the discussion to incorporate them into possible stories in our own communities. We’ll also talk about how to get the rest of your newsroom to think in a data-driven mindset while reporting, and leave with some story ideas to take back with us.

Branded Websites, at Scale

Proposed by Greg MacWilliam

Build a web platform. Now publish many distinct brands using the same codebase, while assigning each brand a unique look and feel. This session will explore ideas for managing brand-specific characteristics, how those characteristics may apply to a visual website theme, and some tools for generating customized assets that skin each brand. We’ll take a high-level look at some platform design, asset management, and publishing workflows currently used to distinguish Vox Media’s web brands.


Proposed by Sonya Song

The U.S. has become increasingly polarized and, ironically, we complain about it within our own filter bubbles. Indeed, we comfortably sympathize with the views of our political parties, influencers and friends, and ignore the banter; in fact, Fox News viewers believe the news they watch is “fair and balanced”, while CNN watchers dismiss the idea that they could possibly be consuming “fake news.” But why such polarization and how did we get here? If Brexit and the US election teach us one thing, it is that it may be time to step outside our comfort bubbles and start a conversation with the opposing view.

Now suppose you land in another filter bubble full of despisers and disbelievers. How would you convince them that universal healthcare isn’t a bad idea, or that a strong dollar doesn’t translate into a strong US economy? How would you even start such a conversation? For more complicated political and economic issues, how would you help people move forward beyond face value and hearsay? If laying out facts doesn’t work, how can you approach others outside your own filter bubbles with a more accessible, heartfelt or persuasive approach?

The suggested encounter will not be easy. But filter bubbles won’t burst by themselves. It is up to us to take them on, and we are conscientious and badass enough to pull it off!

Web scraping! jQuery! Robots! A data extraction workshop for web developers

Proposed by Simon Jockers

jQuery – you may love it, you may hate it, but it always gets the job done. Anyone who builds websites has used it at one point or another. Now, what if you could use your jQuery DOM scripting skills for web scraping? Artoo.js let’s you do exactly that. It is a bookmarklet that injects a web scraper into the browser console and lets you extract data from websites using jQuery – or plain JavaScript, if you prefer that. In this session, we will get you up and running with artoo.js through a series of quick and interactive web scraping exercises. You will learn how to set it up, how to use it for common tasks, and even how to build your own custom scraper bookmarklets for your non-technical colleagues to use.

Let's Talk About Death 💀

Proposed by Adam Schweigert

It was a great idea. You worked really hard to bring it into this world, watched it grow and blossom. It had its moment in the sun, but now it’s starting to slow down. Show its age. It’s having a hard time keeping up, to be completely honest. Maybe you’ve even already moved on. How do you say goodbye? What does end of life care look like for news/tech projects? How do you manage successful transitions and handoffs? In this session we’ll talk about about the hard decisions you sometimes have to make, how to prepare for these situations and how to make sure your projects (or at least the lessons learned) live on.

So You're a Lonely Coder. Now What?

Proposed by Andrea Suozzo

Journalism tech is a new frontier! VR! 3D modeling! Interactive doohickeys! But for many of us who work in smaller media organizations with old-school content distribution models, our job isn’t just figuring out how to code fancy, exciting new things. It’s a lot more.

As a lone coder in your organization, you often don’t really fit into any part of that traditional reporting-writing-editing-publishing process. You’re raring to do cool stuff, but to get there you have to be a strong advocate for your ideas, figure out how to structure and manage your own work, and determine which projects are worth your time and which will leave you in a weeks-long quagmire of despair.

Let’s talk about tools and strategies for self-advocacy, time management and communication we all need to get to the fun, awesome, inventive part of our jobs.

Business Models: What We All Can Do About Them

Proposed by Kate Myers

A few weeks ago, a leader of a non-profit media company asked me for “the secrets” to business development - building out new revenue streams, and how he wanted to unlock the special sauce of big media companies. I’m here to tell you - there is no secret sauce, and we all have a role to play in understanding, influencing, driving, and (yes) remaking the business models that underly the companies many of us work for.

All of our jobs, most of our frustrations, and almost all of our opportunities are shaped by the business models that our employers have. Let’s talk about what we need to understand about those business models, how to evolve and change them, and what we need to do to build an independent organizations that have business models that their audience love.

Join Kate Myers (First Look Media, Inside Higher Ed, NPR, Kaplan, troublemaker) and Brian Boyer (Spirited Media, NPR, Chicago Tribune, ProPublca, also troublemaker) to discuss what we need to know to build better news organizations today.

Caregiving while Reporting, Editing, Publishing, and Analyzing the News

Proposed by Emily Goligoski

The pressures on news storytellers to be resourceful and to deliver have never been greater. The stresses involved can be compounded by our day-to-day caregiving responsibilities for children and parents, among others. Building on a generative discussion at SRCCON 2016, we’ll discuss promoted practices for prioritizing work projects while being present for loved ones (all while creating some opportunities for fun). We’ll take from examples from what works at different news organizations, in countries around the world, and from your own experiences.

Flourish: How to Create Powerful Visualization Tools for your Newsrooms

Proposed by Duncan Clark

This session will give an overview of Flourish (, a powerful and flexible new platform for data visualization and interactive storytelling. Flourish allows journalists to quickly make and publish high-end interactive content from an ever-growing library of templates. But crucially newsrooms developer can use the Flourish SDK to adapt templates or make new ones from scratch using D3, WebGL or any other libraries and technologies. These new templates can be shared with newsroom colleagues – to create a custom toolkit for a particular newsroom – or released publicly for everyone to use or adapt. Thanks to a partnership with Google News Lab, Flourish is free for newsrooms, including support with publishing and template development. This overview will introduce Flourish both for journalists and newsroom developers.

Learning with Lego: how to work with a team when you’re half a world (or half a day) away

Proposed by Yue Qiu

Things can be difficult if you are one of the few people away from the main team. For a lot of us who work in international newsrooms, a newsroom with multiple offices or with staggered shift schedules, distance, time zones and language barriers can be an issue. How do you keep up with the team? How do you learn new skills when there isn’t really anyone around/awake to share them with you? How do you get help? If you are part of the main team, what are you doing to collaborate with people from another office/timezone?

In this session, we will learn about long-distance collaboration by playing with Lego followed by a discussion. Participants will be split into paired groups and tasked to build a city together under conditions simulating cross-timezone teamwork.

Experts are the antidote to alternative facts

Proposed by Charis Palmer

The Edelman Trust Survey shows people increasingly prefer the views of ‘people like me’ to those of experts. This results in them choosing not to vaccinate their children, or argue the moon landing was a hoax. Research shows bombarding people with more facts doesn’t work to change their mind, particularly if they see those with the facts as part of a ‘cultural elite’.

This session will ask participants to consider how they currently include experts in their storytelling, and workshop some alternatives. By telling stories in more innovative ways, we can help counter the death of expertise, restoring some of the trust that has been eroded in media.

Privileges & Allies in the Media Creation

Proposed by Gabriela Rodriguez Beron

Journalism is a powerful tool as a possible place to show different views of the world as well as a voice to model solidarity and allyship. Based on the workshop that Valerie Aurora has been doing in tech companies and the anti-oppresion work that many other organizations have been doing we want to propose a place for people working in media to get resources to educate themselves as way as a place to role play allyship in a moment of the US that show so much hate everywhere.

This is a workshop to practice simple ways of using privilege and influence to support people that are target of systematic oppression.

Punching above your fighting weight: Owning the story

Proposed by Gina Boysun

We know the mantra, “own your community.” It’s place in history, a beloved sports team, a recurring story that affects the community. To embrace that mantra today is a taller order than ever with smaller staffs but the same demands. Let’s take a look through a couple of specific cases where a big event or topic needs to serve up as much good storytelling for our hungry audience as we can come up with. We’ll talk about how smart use of the people you have, smart organization of content (both new and exisiting), perceptive and active use of social media and some gee-whiz tools can have you playing up to the competition and building audience.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the audience

Proposed by Julia Haslanger

What was that lightbulb moment or interactions that led you to a better understanding of your users/audience? What did it take for you to start seeing them as real people that you want to serve, not just eyeballs to count or users to get to perform a specific action? This session is about recognizing those moments, and strategizing how to create them for your coworkers.

Part 1: The session would begin with a few people sharing with the whole group about their “lightbulb” moment — the point in time when they shifted their thinking about their audience they’re serving. Once those who want to share have shared, we’ll divide into smaller groups based on similarity of moments (people who were taught to think this way by a mentor, people who had an interaction with an audience member, people who had some kind of formal empathy training, etc.). Those small groups will write up a quick explanation for why they think that particular experience was successful in changing their mindset. We’ll come back together as a group and share the lessons with each other.

Part 2: We’ll learn about a specific method of empathy training and try it out. We would break up into groups, assign people specific publications and have them go through the exercise of putting together a persona — a thought-out target audience member with a specific background. Based on this persona, people will then think of ways to serve them with editorial content, story formats and outreach. Time permitting, each group will present their persona and approach. (If time is running short, the groups will pair and present to one other group.)

Developing Digital & Physical Security in Context

Proposed by Sarah Aoun

We live in a time of travel restrictions, laptop bans, and surveillance states. The challenges of securing your data, crossing borders, and protecting your sources is getting greater every day. We’ll design a participatory session mapping out the risks and challenges journalists, researchers, and media producers face from an individual to an organizational level. We’ll discuss various security solutions and how to implement them, and cover skills and tools that are essential for digital newsrooms that rely on the internet and connected devices to work. We’ll also share experiences, best practices, learned lessons, and physical security considerations for crossing borders with digital data.

Drawn Together: Doodling Our Way Toward Stronger Collaboration

Proposed by Becky Bowers

Why is it so hard for even the nerdiest among us to work across teams in a newsroom? In small teams, we’ll create short comics that illustrate collaboration challenges and (possible) solutions. What kinds of collaboration problems? Ones we know and love: failure to communicate early, tap the right partners and manage time effectively. We’ll show some examples and talk about the scenarios they describe, then guide the group exercise to storyboard our own solutions. Toward the end, we’ll share our work and discuss. No drawing skills required!

Expanding your team’s tool belt: Developing better training for your newsroom

Proposed by Andrew Nguyen

How do we make learning and training journalists a more enjoyable and a less intimidating experience for everyone involved? What does the structure of good training actually look like?

In this session, we’ll start by discussing the good and the bad ways newsrooms approach training and then we will brainstorm opportunities in our own newsrooms to create new or retool existing training to better provide an engaging and more meaningful learning experience for our staff.

Teams will then tackle a series of three short Amazing Race-style scenarios — involving roadblocks and detours — as they work to create a checklist that will serve as starting point for those looking develop their own curriculum or lead their own training sessions in their newsrooms.

News App Shark Tank: Tailoring Pitches for Any Funder

Proposed by Yvonne Leow

Whether you’re a solo journalist with a big idea or working at a massive media organization, eventually you’re going to have to ask someone (or more likely several people) to sign off on checks to make things happen. This session will explore tailoring project pitches to get funder buy-in at a variety of budgets and stakeholders, ranging from crowdfunding and micro-grants to buy-in from your newsroom or large foundation funders.

Know Your Audience! A Pub(lication) Trivia Night (or Afternoon)

Proposed by Steph Yiu

Who doesn’t love a good, old fashioned pub quiz? At the start of the session, we will break the room up into groups of five or fewer. Everyone will be given a small whiteboard to write their answers.

Round One: Trivia. We will have four categories: local news, millennials, apps, and accessibility. Each category has four questions and you will get 1, 3, 5, or 7 points to wager on each question. The questions will be based off user research and academic studies about how people consume news.

Round Two: Pictures. We will have screenshots of A/B tests from apps and websites of real publications. Players will need to guess which screenshot was the winning one.

Round Three: Numbers. We will ask questions about the percentage of online users that engage in certain habits. The team that guesses the closest correct percentage wins the points.

Final Round: Guess the pub! We will read five clues (audience characteristics) of each publication. The earlier you guess the publication, the more points you get – but be careful, if you guess incorrectly you’ll get 0 points!

The winning team will get something totally amazing, like tickets to Hamilton or a puppy. This pub quiz is a great way to have some fun, get to know other attendees, and learn something about the people who consume the content we create. (Credit: This structure is based off of Stump Trivia from the Boston area)

Design Thinking for News

Proposed by Jennifer Lee

With trust in journalism under attack, it’s important to reimagine our current processes and products in the newsroom. Design thinking is crucial for this innovation. Let’s practice the framework for design thinking by defining the challenges faced in the newsroom, ideate on potential solutions, and prototype our own products.

An Intro to WebVR (and why you should care about it)

Proposed by Rebecca Poulson

A session for skeptics and enthusiasts alike, the buzz around virtual reality is only intensifying but there still aren’t a ton of headsets in households and there isn’t enough really inspiring content. Enter A-Frame, a WebVR framework that allows anyone with basic web development skills to create VR content and anyone with a smartphone better than an iPhone5 to view it. We’ll spend a little time talking about the history, present capabilities and future of WebVR, as well as some basic best practices for developing VR content. then we’ll dive right in and build our first A-Frame scene.

Recommended for you - says who?

Proposed by Madeline Welsh

Personalized news: it seems like the grail for engaged news users and news providers. But where do these recommendations come from? In this session we’ll get to some of the ways news organizations are making use of the existing research and the technical possibilities (and challenges) news organizations are up against, in an attempt to demystify the nuts and bolts of what goes into a recommendation system. What are the differences between content and item-based recommendations, how can you use mobile signals to inform these recommendations, and how do you decide what permutations are best for your news organization? We’ll try do that through what we promise will be a well-thought out, but ultimately probably strange game of tag.

Build a Coral Plugin

Proposed by Jeff Nelson

Come and build a simple plugin for The Coral Project’s open source comment system, and learn how the platform is architected for extensibility, flexibility, and security. Basic code skills required.

Let's Talk About Engagement and Revenue

Proposed by Andrew Losowsky

Forget the taboos. Let’s talk frankly about revenue, engagement, and transparency. We want this group to discuss (and hopefully design) engagement ladders that aren’t only ethical, but that also directly improve both reporting and revenue potential – all without compromising journalistic independence. Let’s break down the wall and have some frank conversations about metrics, money, and bringing the audience closer to everything we do.

Are you Hamilton or are you Burr? What you can learn about benignly manipulating the people around you

Proposed by Hannah Birch

Stop throwing away your shot. Using the dueling personalities of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, we’ll discuss solutions to common problems standing between you and a more productive and calm workday. Learn to create a comprehensible and effective way to get things done, improve your workflow, find better ways to effectively work with other people, and more!

Data-led editorial decisions: what do we need to complement news judgement?

Proposed by Ariane Bernard

Tons of data to be had, and so hard to use. Even if we understand it, some it runs against received knowledge or against editorial goals that are founded in quality / editorial importance (versus straight pv potential). In this session, we may touch on questions like: What are places where data is unambiguously helpful? How and where can this knowledge be delivered to editorial users? Does quant goal setting make sense in an editorial context?

Reality Check: Our Role In Tech

Proposed by Sara Simon

As newsroom developers, we work at the intersection of media and technology. We sit primarily, though, within the context of the former. What we do is vital to the future of news, and it’s great! We use technology to build media! It’s exciting! But it fuels a pit of worry in my stomach because technology is defining new media standards. So, I wonder: Does the tech industry need people who understand the complexities of news more than the media industry needs people who understand the complexities of code? Where do we fit in the tech industry? What responsibilities do we have?

Overcoming crippling personality traits to survive in a newsroom

Proposed by Yoohyun Jung

Are you cripplingly shy? Socially awkward, perhaps? Do you get taken advantage of because you don’t know how to say no? Maybe you have a colleague who picks on you. Any newsroom has a cast of personalities ranging from introverted to outwardly aggressive. If you’re that person who fears talking to people – a skill that’s required of journalists – or gets bullied by the big loudmouth in the newsroom who undermines you and your ideas, finding your place in a collaborative newsroom environment or just do your job as a journalist can be challenging. This session, or therapy circle, would explore real strategies to overcome whatever personality traits participants may have that hinders their journalism. For example, to deal with my debilitating anxiety attacks that precede asking colleagues or sources to do something for me, I put my ‘roller derby hat’ on and become a whole new person to become as fierce and unapologetic as I am on the track beating up and getting beaten up by other women. Find your ‘roller derby hat’ or ‘Sasha Fierce’ here.

Code review strategies when you're on a team vs. code solo.

Proposed by Jennifer Stark

This session will discuss the ways in which people integrate code review into the coding process. Whether you are a developer, analyst or designer – what strategies work when you have someone to review or pair with, vs. when you’re the solo coder, or vs. when everyone is just too busy?!

Hacking a code-rriculum for your newsroom

Proposed by Julia Wolfe

Many of our newsrooms are awash with teachers. We’re adjuncts at j-schools, mentors at non-profits and lecturers at bootcamps. How can we take the curriculums and techniques we use outside our day-jobs to help our organizations grow? How can in-newsroom coding classes be flexible enough for newsroom demands? Trickier still, how do we convince managers it’s a worthy investment? Let’s focus our efforts: Together we can brainstorm a curriculum and the best way to get buy-in. Focusing less on how to teach one-off sessions, we’ll build a multi-week course outline and include useful teaching techniques to spread knowledge and expertise throughout the newsroom for folks who will benefit the most.

Email is dead, long live email

Proposed by Tracie Lee

Email as a medium has had a bad reputation - we can’t seem to stop drowning in our inboxes. But the popularity of email-first publications like Lenny and the Skimm and offerings from established organizations like the Atlantic and the New York Times’s Daily Briefing and Race/Related newsletter bucks that trend. How can you cut through inbox noise to deliver valuable experiences that build deeper relationships with your readers? We’ll talk through identifying user needs, awareness tactics, and how format, tone, rhythm and structure can influence the success of your project. Through a series of group design exercises, you’ll learn how to develop a nascent idea into a full fledged project that takes advantage of email’s strengths. At the end of this workshop you’ll be able to take these strategies back to spin up email-based projects on your own.

Should Our Engineers Donate to Campaigns?

Proposed by Brian Hamman

You’re on a product, design or engineering team but you work at a news organization. Should you play by the same rules as the newsroom, or is this an infringement on your speech? Reasonable people can disagree, so let’s do that. Let’s disagree and see what we can learn on either end of the spectrum.

Hack your hackathon

Proposed by Sandra Barrón

Organizing community media hacks, hackathons or mediathons is always stressful, exhausting and most of the time frustrating. After 2 years organizing hacking events in different countries and for different objectives some life hacks for hacks have made a part of my experience. No more “uber” for news services, or “tinder” for content. Gathering a community to share their skills towards one objective should be fun but most of all, useful. Imagine 150 women from 12 different Spanish speaking countries working on one issue: gender. That’s what happened at Mexico’s mediathon 2016. From pre working every session to pre organize teams, choosing profiles, choosing themes before hand, have a plan to continue and publish the final products. Building communities through marathons of skill sharing and covering specific news is an opportunity and it’s powerful. Let’s work on the spaces where we can publish the stories we want but can’t in our newsroom.

News for everyone: Thinking about accessibility

Proposed by Heather Billings

Designing accessible experiences can feel like a big, hairy problem. Not very many great resources exist, testing can be a pain, and just figuring out where to start can leave you scratching your head. Thinking about it in the context of journalism and visual storytelling — where content is dominant and often unpredictable — can be even more confusing. As a result, if accessibility gets thought about at all, it’s often an afterthought. If you’re someone who needs an accessible site, you’re left wandering in an information wasteland.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Building accessible content and interfaces — even on tight deadlines — is completely doable. You just have to think about it from the beginning. In this session, we’ll start with an overview of basic accessibility principles, tools, and testing. We’ll then break into groups and look at those principles in the context of journalism — testing some apps, looking at alt text, debating the pros and cons of delivering alternative experiences and and dissecting data visualizations and sites in a way that will help you think about how usable the site really is. You’ll walk away with a sheaf of resources, practical tips to improve your next project and, hopefully, a new understanding of what accessibility on the web can look like.

Battle the Bubble: What are you reading beyond journo-Twitter?

Proposed by Justin Myers

As people in the news business, we tend to read tons of stuff. But it’s easy to get into a rut of reading only news stories and commentary about the people who write them. What else do you like to read? Is there something that helps you get out of the journalism echo chamber from time to time, see the world from another perspective, and maintain a bit of work/life balance? Let’s share suggestions—the less conventional, the better!

Working with Facebook data

Proposed by Markus »fin« Hametner

Facebook data can be used to gain insights in communities’ behaviours. Most prominently, it was used in WSJ’s Blue Feed / Red Feed [1]. We ( | DER STANDARD) also used it to cover the Austrian presidential elections, covering the candidates’ preferred media outlets (by analyzing links), comment moderation behaviour [2] and fan’s other liked pages (a la Blue Fed / Red Feed). We also mapped connections between right-wing organizations, media and politicians using (among others) the audience overlap on their Facebook pages.

This session will cover an intro to the available data, how to work with it, and common traps to avoid.

[1] [2]

Is It A Bug Or Is It A Story? Examples of data science in the newsroom

Proposed by Nicola Hughes

Sifting through big data can provide fantastic insights without needing heavy lifting software. Besides map reduce and rigorous scientific methodology, there can often be interesting insights gleaned from the outliers. Zooming into small data can reveal either bugs in your big data scope or oddball user behaviour. Both of these can be nuggets of gold.

Managing people, managing yourself

Proposed by Kaeti Hinck

Whether you’re an aspiring manager, or have been leading teams for years, managing people can present intimidating challenges. What are you most afraid of? Maybe you think you’re not ~ charismatic ~ enough. Or you worry that being manager means you’re not doing “real” work. Perhaps you’re nervous that your team doesn’t like you (and you might be right). As a group, or in small groups, we’ll talk about the things that most terrify us, and then work together to come up with solutions and ideas.

Fighting lies with JSON: Linked Data for the fact checking tools of the future

Proposed by Simon Jockers

Around the world, media organizations and civic tech initiatives are building tools and platforms for debunking misinformation: fact checking sites, collaborative verification tools, and browser plugins.

The ClaimReview specification, an extremely simple data format for making fact checks machine-readable, has the potential to connect and interlink these platforms and tools. In this session, we’ll discuss how this could work. After a quick introduction into the ClaimReview spec, let’s brainstorm and prototype ideas for the connected fact checking tools and services of the future!

Why you absolutely positively shouldn't build an all-encompassing analytics dashboard. Unless you should.

Proposed by Ryan Sholin

Dashboards! Yay! Who doesn’t love a good analytics dashboard? They help bring together metrics from diverse sources and maybe even do some math for cool blended metrics and hey suddenly this seems like a lot of work to maintain, with all these APIs and whatnot. I sure hope someone is using this thing… Oh… Oh? Hmm.

Is fantasy sports a better model for getting people who have never held a newspaper to engage?

Proposed by Eric Nelson

This session will quickly demonstrate what hundreds of paying classrooms are doing with and explore what we’ve learned about delivering news to students when they draft teams of countries or states and get points for news mentions and tone.

We’ll spend the rest of the time discussing + designing answers to the following questions: 1) How can thinking like a 9th grader help us improve news? 2) What are the best existing content engagement models outside news you’ve seen? (no points for mentioning “social media,” email “newsletter,” or “quiz”) 3) If you could design a news interface, what would a user click on first? (no points for saying “Sign Up” or “headline”)

ffmpeg 101: Video editing at your fingertips.

Proposed by Pietro Passarelli

For journalist and developers. Some familiarity with command line terminal prefered but not required and interest in video editing.

  • installing ffmpeg ( the easy way using brew)
  • CLI 101 understanding commands and flags arguments
  • some basic ffmpeg commands
  • Extract audio from video
  • Make gift from images
  • Make gif from video
  • Burn srt captions onto video ( captions burner )
  • Read video metadata with ffprobe ( eg camera timecode, duration etc..)
  • Work with EDL
  • Use ffmpeg wrappers such as node fluent ffmpeg.

Divide into groups to practice and edit some sample material.

Hands on autoEdit: How can automated transcriptions help you with captions, Q&A articles, video editing and more…?

Proposed by Pietro Passarelli is an open source project, to make it easier, faster and more accessible to work with video interviews. Participants will be helped to setup the application on their own system for an hands on test run.

Different use cases are briefly presented, : transcriptions plain text (Q&A pieces) Video editing (paper cuts EDL) captioning srt.

Second part, group discussions on how participants currently tackle the problem of transcriptions, what services, app, tips, tricks and techniques do they use? As well as explore range of use cases they have encountered.

Hands on: Live fact checking TV speeches in your google docs!

Proposed by Pietro Passarelli

True or false?: Major political events are regularly covered on live TV, and all of them feature speakers with an agenda.

When the lens of public attention shines on politicians it is important for journalists to be able to contextualize their messages as quickly and effectively as possible. During this session we will teach participants about open source tools that are being used today by live fact checkers to create annotated transcripts. They will learn about an open service called Opened Captions and how it can be used in conjunction with google doc to get real time transcriptions of political speeches.

This is an hands on session, drawing on experience from Vox and NPR collaboration, participants will also be shown how to export the annotated speech from the google doc into a news article static web page, that could be ready for publication.

Making sense of the Internet of Things

Proposed by Dave Stanton

The Internet of Things is not a bunch of IFTTT recipes. IoT is an idea that a network of connected devices can inform and improve our lives. We’ve seen many news dispatches from the dystopian hellscape of consumer IoT with toys, cameras, and other compromised devices making us second guess if this is all just a horrific blunder. However, there are massive efficiencies being gained through industrial and agricultural uses of IoT. As we continue down the path of real-time tweaking of our reality based on data, journalists need to understand how commercial IoT is being used and how to more meaningful interpret data reported by government, non-government, and private-sector entities using IoT.

Code Across America: Working with local Code for America brigades to find local stories

Proposed by Dave Stanton

While it would be amazing for journalists to be spread across America, the big media companies are parked mostly in NYC and DC. This means we analyze data from afar and write anecdotal trend pieces without much understanding of the vast and diverse local populations that might be impacted or influencing some topic. Fear not! There are bunches of motivated and stoked people at the local level that want to find, process, and provide information to the public to help them be more informed. These civic hacktivists share an ethos with journalists. We should look to connect with local Code for America brigades to get more context at the local level until we actually achieve better geographic diversity in media.

Rebekah and Dave co-founded two Code for America brigades in Florida (Miami and Gainesville). Erie recently joined Code for America to help strengthen the network of brigades. This means they help connect hackers and activists with their local governments to find ways to make government work better for the people. Come and discuss tactics for connecting with local brigades to find data and better understand local issues, local people and local governments… since we know y’all don’t have people living there.

Let's be better security trainers together

Proposed by Amanda Hickman

If people come to you to find out how to troubleshoot encryption keys or choose a password manager, you’re a security trainer. Even if you know you’re not really qualified or an expert. So let’s talk about best practices for ethical and responsible skill sharing, and about strategies for helping your friends, family, colleagues, sources, neighbors, and local lawmakers get their digital privacy straightened out without overwhelming anyone.

Taxonomy? Do tags, categories and feeds matter anymore?

Proposed by Albert Sun

When search and social platforms dominate how news sites get traffic, how much does the actual organization of a news site matter anymore? People from different news orgs will share what they are doing with taxonomy and section fronts.

How to craft compelling stories out of audio/video interviews?

Proposed by Pietro Passarelli

Using some of the videos from the Whistle Blowers Interview Archive(, we’ll take an hands on approach to explore key concepts, ideas and techniques to identify narrative points, test out story ideas, and craft a compelling story.

This session focusses on the underlying evergreen storytelling principles that transcend the medium, so no knowledge of video or audio editing required, just curiosity towards story telling principles and techniques.

Threat Modeling, But For Your Own Well-Being

Proposed by Mago Torres

In this guided session, we’ll ask you a series of questions to help you identify what you’re most worried about and why. We’ll work through how to take care of yourself emotionally, how to keep what you plan for manageable, and how to identify those who can help you.

This session is great for those are worried, or those who want to know how to help others. Participants can talk through their answers with others, or go through the session individually.

Pro-pattern making: let's compose a set of design guidelines for clear and crisp news

Proposed by Aurelia Moser

Working with code in organizations is a trade, involving craftsmanship and careful curation of content to build bold and clear narratives. Style guides and design patterns give us some frameworks for crafting simple, repeatable, and structured projects; likewise by committing to a pattern, we can forecast the utility of a project or interactive, and easily solicit contributions toward a more evolved and better-tested model for design. Still, as with documentation, these patterns can sometimes be forgotten, difficult to commit to, or lost in the tight timelines for interactive development and the driving need to introduce new and different interaction models. Let’s collect a series of vetted design patterns and compose a quick reference for these guidelines based on themes; thereafter we can create a “plain” version that pulls from all references and might be worth incorporating into the exploratory planning stages of future interactives across newsrooms, disciplines, and projects. Maybe we can submit the output as an IRE tipsheet:

Introducing the Computational Journalism Workbench

Proposed by Jonathan Stray

The Computational Journalism Workbench is an integrated platform for data journalism, under development at Columbia journalism school. It combines scraping, analysis, notification and visualization in one easy tool. It works by assembling simple modules into a “workflow,” a repeatable, sharable, automatically updating pipeline that produces a publishable chart or a live API endpoint. And it’s community driven: you can write modules for it in Python and Javascript – say to scrape your favorite site – and browse the large collection of modules that others have built.

What does the 21st century beat reporter look like, and what tools will they need to do their job

Proposed by David Yanofsky

Let’s have a discussion about where beat reporting is headed and what types of things those reporters might need once they get there. Then, we’ll try to prototype out some of those tools on paper.

A game about negotiation

Proposed by Alan Palazzolo

Let’s play a game together, one that will teach you about negotiating with others, working in teams, and how trust may or may not work. It’ll be easy, fun, and insightful.

This will be a popular negotiations exercises, so if you think that you have done it before, then it’s probably better to sit this out.

Lightening Inspiration

Proposed by Brian Hamman

It’s uncouth to brag about your own work but totally acceptable to praise someone else’s. Let’s have a giant show-and-tell of the great projects that have inspired us recently, both in and out of journalism. What do you wish you’d done? What have you learned? I can’t wait to see what gets everyone excited.

Styleguides: The Swiss Army knife of the digital newsroom

Proposed by Tom Nehil

If you think styleguides are just a way for the most persnickety member of your team to impose their font and color preferences on everyone else, think again. A well-designed styleguide is the Swiss Army knife of the digital newsroom, allowing you to kick out everything from one-off bar charts to full fledged interactive presentations with a minimum of decisions and redundancy. In this session, we’ll talk about some of the elements to include in a successful style guide and some tools and strategies to implement one of your own.

How do we move to HTTPS?

Proposed by Ian Carrico

The web has been moving to be more secure and under HTTPS for some time— but many outlets are having issues moving to a more secure web for their content. This generally boils down to issues with 3rd party content and advertising revenue streams that can be affected from the move. But there are also massive benefits to moving to HTTPS. Not just ensuring the privacy and security of our users— but there is also many new web APIs that require it.

For the session— we want to dive into the issues that we have faced, and how many of us are working within a new HTTPS world. We also want to look into the new web APIs that HTTPS opens up, and how they can be used on our own web experiences.

Finding a better way to test skills while hiring

Proposed by Rachel Schallom

When sharing ideas while interviewing for a position, you’re essentially doing free consulting work if you don’t get the gig. Together, let’s explore better methods of testing skills through the hiring process. We’ll dig into skills tests, idea proposals and more to come up with some best practices for the journalism-tech industry.