SRCCON 2018 Session Proposals
Thank you to everyone who submitted a session idea for SRCCON this year—what an amazing list! After we review each proposal, we’ll notify everyone about their session status by the end of April.
Proposed by Jasmine Mithani
How do you disclose to your manager that you have a disability? Do you wait until after the job offer? How do you keep up with the demands of a 24-hour news cycle if you need special accommodations? What does this mean for your job growth? How do you manage an employee whose function can be unexpectedly limited? How can you live up to your reporting potential when your biology is thwarting you at seemingly every turn?
This session will start with anecdotes of how facilitators have tackled these tough conversations with bosses and coworkers, sharing what hasn’t worked and what has worked…better. The session will then move to a conversation where participants with disabilities can discuss life in the news industry. Topics could include how people have communicated their needs or accommodations to their employer, experiences working with HR, trying to fit in with the rest of their team or just attempting to get coworkers to understand. The goal of this session is to connect folks with disabilities, share coping techniques, and allow those without disabilities to listen and learn how best to support their colleagues.
Proposed by Sharilyn Hufford
Newsroom users love to hate their systems, but what’s the one thing your CMS does that your newsroom absolutely loves and can’t live without?
If your CMS doesn’t have a killer feature, then bring your ideas!
In a lightning-round show-and-tell style format, show us what you’ve got or pitch your pie-in-the-sky idea. Everyone goes home with new ideas for how to make life better for people who love to hate their CMS.
Proposed by Millie Tran and Kaeti Hinck and Stacy-Marie Ishmael
Where do people find time to nurture long-term goals? How do we get past treading water at work and move toward what we want next? And how do we even figure out what that is when we’re overwhelmed and overworked? In this session, building on what we explored at SRCCON:WORK, we’ll dig into how to create space for longer term goals, and brainstorm specific ways to balance the short and long term in our daily lives.
How would you describe the purpose of your session? What would you love participants to leave with? We want people to leave with actionable techniques for identifying and pursuing goals — and feel empowered to to prioritize their own growth.
Proposed by Alyson Hurt
If you’ve taken a long vacation, family leave or a new job, you’ve likely written some kind of passoff document to let others know where you left off with important projects and who to ask for key information. Let’s talk about the qualities of a good passoff, documentation best practices that make passoffs easier, and onboarding/offboarding.
Proposed by James Turk
Open States has been a major civic tech project for over eight years. The rate at which it became Sunlight’s most-used API demonstrated a clear thirst for accessible information on state legislative information in the civic tech & journalism communities. Two years ago the project became independent, and is now run as a volunteer project.
The goal of this session is to discuss how Open States and other state legislative projects can improve to be as useful as possible to the wider community. Open States grew as an Open Source project with over 100 collaborators, many from newsrooms- and we want to have a conversation to help determine the right direction for the now mature project in the years to come.
What drives people to pay for journalism? Is it access to exclusive content? Incentives in the UX? Affordability? Attitudes and beliefs? Or is it something else? Together we’ll work through some universal ways of thinking about compelling people to support journalism with money. The session will begin with brainstorming to identify the reasons people pay for journalism. We’ll sort those ideas to find common themes that - surprise! - exist in any news organization, whether its focus is global, local or something in between. We’ll end with an exercise to develop ideas for real-world implementation so that everyone leaves the room with at least one concrete plan that they think will get their readers to pay for news.
Proposed by Alexandra Kanik and Natasha Khan
Recently, Current wrote a call-to-action article on developing cross-newsroom collaboratives.
Using this article as a template, we propose to lead a session aimed at creating a Newsroom Collaborative Manifesto.
We hope to create not only a single session, but a group of people with a continuing dedication to answering questions like:
- How does collaboration work at national, regional and local levels?
- How does collaboration work between commercial and public media?
- What platforms can collaboratives use to communicate?
- What platforms can we use to share collaborative materials?
- How do you pitch collaboration to an unwilling management team?
- How do you collect analytics from collaborations and how do you measure success?
Proposed by Sharilyn Hufford
We’ve heard about the lack of diversity in mainstream media so let’s do something about it. Calling data analysts, bot builders, machine learning experts and anyone who cares about making a more inclusive report. Share the tools and techniques for measuring diversity in your news report that have been successful. Bring some ideas for things that you’d love to have but don’t have the time or resources to make. Let’s get inspired, set some accountability goals and help each other create more diverse and inclusive news reports.
Proposed by Kazi
Journalism is hard. We try our best to get it right, but inevitably we’ll get it wrong. How do we handle that with grace in the age of social media?
Proposed by Jasmine Mithani
Many newsrooms lack the funding required to build their own tools to aid with reporting, editing, and all other aspects of the biz. Whether you work for a nonprofit, small local paper, or start-up without capital, let’s come together and discuss free and low-cost services that can be used to streamline the publishing process. The focus will be on internal communication, editorial workflow, and project management, but creative solutions for analytics, social media, etc. are welcome too. At the end of the session, we will have a list of tools, services, and ideas that can be shared with the larger journo community.
Proposed by Laura Laderman
Are you a researcher (academic, policy or otherwise) who has collaborated with journalists to bring your work to a wider public forum? Are you a journalist who has helped interpret research findings and data sets in innovative public ways? Are you both or neither but want to be?
Through discussion and activities we’ll envision new relationships between research teams, data journalists, and the public. We’ll talk about our experiences with these types of collaborations, what has and hasn’t worked, and how we might upend the the traditional one-way flows from research -> journalism -> public.
Proposed by Greg Emerson
A number of Hollywood stars have gotten behind Frances McDormand’s public commitment to include an “inclusion rider” in her contract to hold the organization she works for to guarantee a standard of diversity in their staffing, representation and the like.
While most journalists don’t have the luxury of that kind of bargaining power, unions do, and newsrooms can get together to demand the organizations they work for to not only meet a diversity-inclusion standard but also to ensure representative and non-biased coverage.
From photo selection (like questionable uses of mugshots of black people) to sexist headline wording, holding news organizations to a high standard of respect and treating all people with dignity is good for business as well as for society.
Proposed by Andre Natta
Trust is a buzzword throughout journalism and society. Journalists and the communities we serve wonder how much trust we have available to give. This is important in a world where we see a never-ending battle for attention. It might need us as a profession to be more open to being vulnerable to society. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an uncomfortable or robotic interaction.
This session will explore how to be more vulnerable as an individual and with your news team. We’ll also discuss how we can do so with the communities we attempt to serve with our journalism.
Proposed by Simon Willison
Datasette is a free tool for publishing structured data to the web in a way that makes it easy to search and explore. Datasette also provides a JSON+SQL API for quickly building apps and visualizations on top of the data.
This workshop will provide an in-depth exploration of Datasette - what it is, the philosophy behind it and how to use it to explore and publish interesting data.
It will also be a hands-on tutorial. Example data will be provided, but if you can bring your own data (ideally as CSV but other formats will work fine as well) you’ll be able to analyze, visualize and publish it during the course of the session.
Proposed by Matt Moehr
Every data project I’ve ever done has included at least one spreadsheet. I suspect it’s the same for a lot of analysts and news nerds. We love spreadsheets, and paradoxically, we dream of a world where there are no more spreadsheets. This session will explore two broad approaches to spreadsheets.
First, you can treat spreadsheets as slightly nicer CSVs: no highlighting, no formulas, no auto-filtering, no subtotals. This approach is best for importing and exporting to R, Python, JSON, etc. The second approach tries to maximize the functionality of spreadsheets. Maybe even using PivotTables? I’ll try to summarize the two approaches and then lead a discussion on how our orgs approach spreadsheets. What are our spreadsheet horror stories? Do any of our organizations use versioning and code tests on their spreadsheets? Does it work? What do people find works well for getting data into and out of spreadsheets? What are alternatives for different spreadsheet functions (e.g. data entry into Survey Monkey, Google Sheets, or sqlite).
Using Narrative Tools (and Post-its!) to Workshop Better Editorial Products and Build Newsroom Relationships
Journalism asks us to be masters of all trades: writers, editors, designers, and developers alike. This hands-on workshop gives participants a chance to engage in and learn how to facilitate activities we use to build out projects from kickoff to product plan, such as on a website redesign or when developing a new editorial product. Bring ideas for projects you’re just considering, especially difficult ones—our exercises will give you a chance to air them to the group, while teaching you how to ask the right questions and really listen to the answers. We get everyone actively involved using Post-its, a “how might we” exercise in which participants frame project goals using a question format, live dot-voting with stickers, scrum-style collaborative group prioritization and planning poker, sketching, and more.
These sessions rapidly move teams from goal-setting and prioritizing to identifying requirements and even starting nascent deliverables such as a sitemap or sketches. You will learn well-tested strategies for putting your existing narrative skills to work, as we lead you through exercises that will help your team break down and conceptualize next steps. These activities provide ways to iterate quickly while ensuring everyone has a voice in the process. Not only will you turn Post-its and drawings into an immediately actionable backlog, you’ll also come out of our session ready to iterate on this process to improve idea generation for everyday work. In addition to creating a valuable product, these collaborative exercises build team relationships, improve your editorial collaboration and cross-functionality, and establish trust—while delivering results on deadline.
Taking on managerial roles can be a chance to have a bigger say and influence in how your organization functions, but new managers are not always set up to succeed. How can organizations (and fellow managers) do a better job of ensuring individuals have all the tools they need to navigate the new dynamics that come with new responsibilities (and typically new titles)? Sometimes new managers still have production obligations, and how do you balance the need to still be a producer and a leader? How do you navigate the interpersonal dynamics of suddenly having newfound authority, potentially a significant dynamic change on your team?
As two folks who have recently moved more and more into decision making roles, we’ll talk about our respective experiences, and give others a chance share their stories and suggestions.
Proposed by Annabel Church
Help us brainstorm tactics, tricks and tools to make sure you thrive in your career and live up to your aspirations. We know that diversity makes for better journalism and better tech, but that inside and outside newsrooms it can be hard to deal with the difficulties that being a women or a minority can bring.
How can we ease the load, reduce the stress and increase the resilience so that we can thrive in our careers?
Proposed by Greg Emerson
OK, that title needs work. But the concept is solid, I think: Retrospectives help engineering teams get better at their work, so can they help make our strategies and best practices more effective? Of course they can.
In this guided workshop, let’s hold some retrospective teardowns on strategic plans from years past (think: the social media plan you put together for your boss in 2012). Let’s challenge our old assumptions of what spaces were the ones to get into, which trends would ensure the future success of our business or products.
A retrospective exercise like this will give you a framework to develop a truly living, breathing strategic vision. One with a past, and with the wisdom of age.
Proposed by David Yee
The practice of interviews in your daily collaboration with coworkers—whether in mentorship conversations, working with or as managers, moderating panels, conducting user research, or building products—is an incredibly valuable craft to hone. Engaging in a dialogue built on questions (especially at the intersection of journalism and technology) can help you better understand the people on your teams and surface the stories that inform their lived experiences—using those experiences to help you make smarter decisions and build better and more thoughtful products.
Let’s discuss how to: build constructive listening skills, use different classes of questions to guide and evaluate conversation, build a line of reasoning from a conversation as it evolves, and frame really productive interviews in service of getting to know your subject. Participants will spend time both asking and responding to questions in unstructured interviews, and we’ll reflect as a group on the practice and outcomes. At the end, you should walk away from this session not just with the tools you need to start building interviews into your daily work, but with a keener understanding of the skill of intense, focused listening.
Proposed by Evan Wyloge
Have you ever requested Facebook, WhatsApp, or Signal messages from a public official? Have you requested a government agency’s server log? Have you talked past a PIO about how a database can be copied? Let’s share our war stories on the topic of local public records law and technologies that make governments freak out. Let’s see if we can, through a pastiche of experiences, survey the current state of public records in emerging technologies. Let’s also share what has worked and possible best practices that will push governments toward greater transparency.
Proposed by Tina Ye
As a designer and a technologist, one question I’ve long been pondering is how we might play a role in reducing polarization, rather than increasing it. We all recognize the effects of the filter bubble in our daily lives—the stories we see most often are the ones that reinforce what we already believe. This serves to drive us ever deeper into a narrative of “us” vs. “them.” But I wonder if there are ways to pop the bubble and close the divide. In the midst of outrage, I find myself nonetheless moved by stories such as this (https://medium.com/s/story/im-a-journalist-and-the-daughter-of-an-n-r-a-member-why-it-s-time-to-tell-my-story-9782ae97aad9) and (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/14/us/union-jobs-mexico-rexnord.html). I’m curious to hear perspectives from within the journalism and tech community on these efforts, as well as others, to bring to light the human stories and lost narratives underlying hashtag movements, societal shifts and cultural trends. Perhaps we will even do a participatory design exercise to imagine how we might create a more human, more empathetic world via the media we consume.
Proposed by Joe Germuska
While our information ecology has changed wildly in the last 30 years, the processes and objectives of many news organizations have barely shifted. The forms may be novel, but often the focus is still on generating more stories, despite the glut of content vying for our attention.
In this session, we’ll use the “Jobs to be Done Theory” (Christensen, et al) to think bigger about what we could be doing in news organizations. The theory proposes that, rather than “churn out mediocrity” with stale innovation processes, we should begin by asking, when a customer chooses a new product or service, “what job did you hire that product to do?”
After a very brief presentation to set things up, we’ll go through a series of exercises, generating a catalog of jobs people need done and possible ways that news organizations could refocus their expertise to help people get those jobs done. When we’re finished, we should have a boatload of ideas for new ways to serve our audiences. Maybe you’ll even want to work with Knight Lab in the future to flesh out the ideas and develop prototypes!
Proposed by Dan Schultz and Mike Tigas, Julia Smith, Ted Han, Carolyn Rupar
You have ideas! They are great ideas. Uh oh now you have another one. You want to work on them all, and they are all worth working on (but are they?). If this feels unsustainable that’s because it is.
You are not alone.
Come to this session to talk about:
- Finding funding / convincing someone it is worth giving you money
- Recruiting friends to help
- Channeling personal motivation
- Coordinating volunteers and paid workers
- Best practices around code
- How to communication about what you’re doing
- Deciding how to prioritize
- Staying energized / focused / productive
- Forcing yourself to make progress
- Useful tools and processes
- We own 4 voting machines, what do we do with them
- Oh god I’m out of time
Proposed by Annabel Church
Let’s figure out how to surface hidden podcasts.
It can be hard to find podcasts in a specific geographically as they can be swamped by others in the same language market - what are the best British podcasts? Or linguistically, if you don’t have access to a language - how do you know what the best podcasts are for Germany? What if you want to know about the best minority players?
How do we surface most intriguing of a genre, specialty topic or the most diverse voices?
Could apps like Breaker help? What would we build if we could?
Proposed by Blaine Cook
We’ve built (but as of writing not widely announced) an open source approach to managing our complex content in an elegant, extensible way. We’d like to share, compare, and contrast that approach with others (e.g., the New York Times have recently announced a similar effort, and a lot of concordant work is being done by folks like Pietro Passarelli and the BBC), and discuss the opportunities that this has opened for us, as well as host a conceptual discussion about some of the assumptions that we’ve collectively made about HTML, Markdown, and what questioning some of those might mean for what we can do as journalists and the technologists who support them.
In some ways, this is a boring topic and the assumption is that it’s kind of a done deal, but what we’ve found is that simple assumptions about technology and a lack of agility around these issues has held back our collective ability to present rich, responsive media on the web (and other platforms) in a reproduceable and user-friendly way.
Proposed by Alyssa Zeisler and Joanna Kao
Over the past several years, data analytics has been incorporated into newsroom decision making. Yet, quantitative web data can only give us a snapshot into what is happening – not why. Interviews, focus groups and surveys — commonly referred to as customer research – is a necessary tool for those in newsrooms to deepen their understanding of their audience and consider the “why” behind the “what.” In this session, we will give you an overview of different user research techniques, the pros/cons of each and when they should be deployed to the best effect.
We will have an example product that requires additional audience insight and together we will devise a research methodology for user testing. Following this, we will break out into smaller groups, where we will write a script and practice conducting user interviews (or focus groups, depending on attendance) and get feedback on how we could improve our approach to get better insights.
Proposed by Greg Linch
Taeyoon Choi cooks dumplings to demonstrate how a CPU works. To teach creative applications of technology, he takes a fun and tactile approach in explaining a complex subject. We also aim to explain complicated topics in news, but constraints of time, money and staffing can make that difficult. Instead we often use formats like graphic templates or explainer stories. But what we if we created new templates that didn’t just simplify our subject matter, but made it engaging in a way that spurs exploration and understanding?
We’ll share examples like the CPU dumplings and ideas from art history like defamiliarization. Then we’ll break into groups to devise and compile new approaches to presenting information inspired by the discussion.
Can we build better tools by extending existing systems? A group discussion about solving workflow problems in the newsroom
You probably leverage existing tools as a part of your everyday workflow. You might be completely satisfied if they solve a specific problem or are designed for a unique use case, but what if you have a general, widely used tool that doesn’t include specific features your newsroom needs? How can you ensure your solution is something people will actually use? We encounter these questions frequently at The New York Times, and we’ve learned that not only is it usually too much work to build something completely new to replace an old system, but also it can be difficult to get users to give up an interface that they are comfortable with. As a result, we often build tools that extend the existing system, but might not live inside of it. A browser extension, a bookmarklet, or a separate UI layer that sits on top of another system – we use all of these solutions to streamline existing workflows in the newsroom.
But what makes a good tool anyway? And with so many potential areas for improvement, how do you know where to invest? Many of our most successful tools rely on leveraging known UIs and ways of working. We’ll discuss several tools developed at The New York Times that solve some of these problems and ask the room about their own experiences streamlining newsroom workflows.
After our discussion, we’ll break into small groups to collectively identify opportunities and ideate tools that build on workflows used in other newsrooms. We’ll crowdsource known issues and navigate scenarios where News Nerds answer the question: How can we solve problems using systems our users already know well?
Proposed by Michael Morisy
Love transparency, but want to do more than than Instagram your most ridiculous redactions? Come brainstorm what tools the journalism and transparency communities need to make public records work for today’s journalists, researchers, and the general public. MuckRock and FOIA Machine a database of over 45,000 requests and almost 10,000 agencies, and we’d like to hear your ideas on how we can use these to help requesters file better requests. We also have a database of every state’s public records laws, including sample exemptions, appeal letters, and more, and we’d love to find ways to integrate these tools into your newsroom’s processes.
Proposed by Chris Canipe
We do better work when we do a lot of work, but that’s not as easy as it sounds. Let’s talk about how to build work habits that enable you to do sophisticated graphics work quickly with boilerplate code and reusable elements. How do we get out of painful design-by-committee situations and heavy lifts that require way more work than can possibly pay off? What features does a good graphics story have, and how can we boil it down to the essentials? What makes a good project experiences and how do we lay the groundwork that enables us to make more good things more often?
Don’t Panic: the guide to working without an editor, even if you have one sitting right next to you.
Are you a freelancer or a lonely coder looking for feedback as you’re working on your latest project? Do you work on a team with access to an editor but they don’t have the right experience or skills to review your work?
No matter your level of expertise, having a skilled pair of eyes thoroughly scan your code, design, or writing is a crucial step in producing quality journalism. Enter the role of editor. Having a good editor is a truly amazing experience. Not only can a good editor help point out the errors in the text or the flaws in a design, but they can also offer guidance on story structure, layout, etc). Their feedback can make the difference between an average piece and an impactful piece.
So what can you do if that resource isn’t available to you? How can you shape stories without the keen eye of an editor?
Here’s the thing, none of us have the perfect answer. In this session, we want to share some of our strategies and we want you to hear what solutions you’ve come up with.
Proposed by Ben Werdmuller
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to building desirable products that meet a real need well, are viable and sustainable, and can feasibly be produced with the time, resources and skills you have.
Open source is an approach to building software where anyone can take the code and remix, iterate, and reshare it.
Newsrooms are experiencing significant challenges and serious resource constraints. How could they use design thinking and open source to collaborate on building meaningful, innovative tools that improve everybody’s workflow? How can those tools be maintained and iterated?
In this session, we’ll talk through a framework for understanding your core user needs and assumptions, identifying innovative solutions, and then building those solutions in a collaborative, resource efficient, prototype-driven way.
Proposed by Carolyn Gearig
Let’s talk about how user tests + reader interviews can help you get a sense of product direction, how your content fits into people’s lives, initial impressions people have on your organization, what people in your community think is important to be covered and more – and how it can be simpler than you think.
In this session, we’ll discuss use cases for different kinds of user tests / interviews and easy ways to integrate them into your product development and reader engagement processes.
Come with an idea or two about something you’d like to know about your readers or get reader feedback on and at the end of the session we can explore some scenarios and possible solutions.
Proposed by Jonathan Stray
Anything is possible in Python, but that doesn’t mean you should be programming. Let’s share tools and tricks to scrape, clean, monitor, script, query, and visualize data in sophisticated ways that might even be better than writing custom code. I’ll demo Workbench, an integrated system for assembling and sharing code-free data workflows.
Proposed by Kelsey Arendt
Everyone craned their necks to watch the crash recent changes to Facebook’s News Feed have caused (and maybe avoided getting tangled in the wreckage). In the meantime, Google has been rolling out discovery options of its own. That still leaves content creators with one question: How can I develop my audience and become less dependent on the two big referrers?
In this session we will focus on tools that help you understand your audience better. Concrete examples will put you in the position to make better decisions tomorrow. A breakout session will give you the chance to share your knowledge and learn from peers. At the end of this session, you should be able to shout enthusiastically: “We own our audience now!”
Proposed by Jake Grovum and Hannah Wise, Julia Chan, Helga Salinas, and Alyssa Zeisler
We’ll tackle everything you ever wanted to know about working with audience engagement but were too afraid – or didn’t even know – to ask. Participants will break into groups and be assigned a series of stories or editorial project for a given news organization, complete with story summaries, descriptions of relevant basic visual/multimedia elements and audience profiles.
The challenge? Coming up with a content and engagement plan that showcases the stories, distributes them to relevant platforms and is designed to meet your metrics for success (whatever those may be – coming up with them is part of the challenge!) At the end, we’ll ask the groups to present their plans and how the process through which they arrived at their conclusions.
Proposed by Dylan Greif
As the newsroom has evolved, so has the product… and the formats and distribution and tools and expertise. We have learned that to keep pace, we have to collaborate in new ways among developers, designers, journalists, editors and more. But what does it mean to collaborate effectively? For any given collaboration, who takes the lead and who is responsible for what? How do we join forces without slowing our roll and stepping on each others’ toes?
In this session, we will do an experiment. We will ask: what if with reinvent our roles and relationships? We will break up into teams of diverse skill-sets. Each will be assigned a new media project (an emerging story format, an AI news app, etc.). But the deliverable will not be the product itself. It will be a draft of a high-level plan of action. That plan will define each team member’s role, their working relationship with others, and their responsibilities at different stages of the project. The idea will be to think differently about all of it. Members will share their visions of what the needs and possibilities of the product are, and what different resources they can bring to the table. What new titles and partnerships might emerge? User experience editor, executive developer, multi-media writing crew, visual researcher, project designer?
We often write about how social media platforms take people’s data and misuse it. But can we promise that data we collect won’t be equally misused? Is there a way that we can we collect information while making it harder for anyone – hacker, corporate owner, ad tech embedded in our pages, unthinking co-worker – to misuse or use it without clear consent?
This collaborative session will discuss some of the issues surrounding both intentional and automated data capture, and try to create an ethical framework for individual journalists and companies to follow.
Whether we’re asking someone for their personal story, or tracking subscribers on site, we need to spend more time considering data protection and privacy at the start of any project.
Proposed by Alice Goldfarb
For many of us, this work is more vocation than job. How do we reconcile the idealism of being a journalist with the realities of dealing with managers, HR departments, leave policies and collective bargaining? How do we help improve the culture of the organizations where we work? Are there ways to engage with people who we don’t work with usually, either because they are in other departments or behind titles.
We will discuss what has been tried and successful, or attempted and should be avoided, at the various places we’ve worked. We’ll think about ways to work for these systematic changes while still doing our day jobs. Hopefully we will leave with actionable things to try once we’re back at work.
Communication is one of the most basic things we do every day. But communicating at work can be surprisingly difficult – especially when working across teams, across time zones or if you are the team working in the larger organization. That’s where this session comes in. It’s time to actually talk about how we talk to each other.
By the end of the session, participants should leave with some practical tips and tools for facilitating communication back in their own workplaces.
Proposed by Moiz Syed
A lot of newsrooms and tech organizations tend to depend on diversity committees to address the lack of diversity among staff. This session will be a discussion to explore questions around how to have a diversity committee can be more effective to bring about change. Questions including:
- Who should be part of a diversity committee?
- Who should be doing the work?
- How can we get more management participation in the committee?
- What type of diversity initiatives can be effective?
- What can be done beyond diversity committee?
- How did we even get here?
Proposed by Moiz Syed and Akil Harris
This session will continue and build on the incredible discussion we had last year at SRCCON about the pros and cons of unionizing a newsroom. We are now much further along in our union bargaining efforts at The Intercept and have been exposed to and tackling new problems including how to bargain with management effectively, and maintain the unit’s solidarity when the going gets tough.
Proposed by Kristyn Wellesley and Candice Fortman
We are told there are two sides to every story. But really, there are several and many voices which should be heard are often overlooked by journalists in favor of those who are either louder or more obvious. Looking at the Parkland #MeToo stories, we will talk about how minority were included in the narrative, what we did to elevate those voices and lessons we taught our journalists.
Proposed by Chase Davis
Local news is in trouble. We get it. And it rightfully makes us sad. But that isn’t stopping many of our best and brightest from decamping for the coasts, where better pay, comparative stability, and communities of like-minded news nerds beckon from enclaves like New York and D.C.
No judgment. I worked at coastal media organizations for almost 10 years. And not for no reason: From The Times and the Post to small, nimble startups, the benefits of working in coastal newsrooms are very real. Local newsrooms have advantages, too, but on many fronts they just can’t compete.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t help them try.
In this session, we’ll discuss what local newsrooms can do to successfully recruit people like you — some of the best, brightest and most forward-thinking folks in the business. We’ll be mindful of constraints (big salaries, expensive benefits) and focus on things hiring managers can realistically implement: Cultural adjustments. Workplace policies. Lifestyle perks. Bulldozing bureaucratic barriers. And whatever else we think of.
Our discussion will result in a how-to document that will be shared far and wide with local newsroom managers, explaining realistic, actionable things they can do to create an environment news nerds want to work for.
Proposed by Alyssa Zeisler
Newsrooms are increasingly collaborative with (1) other teams in the newsroom (i.e. audience teams that need to work with video teams to produce social content) and (2) teams across a media company (i.e working with technology teams on building out the CMS). The development of bridge roles – where people move from a data team into the newsroom, or from the newsroom into a product management role – is the most recent example of this trend. These roles may or may not have people reporting into them (requiring direct, downward management) but almost certainly have other people/teams they have dependencies on. How can you make sure to get things done even when you don’t have the authority to do so?
Learn how to understand/read people’s communication preferences (we’ll do some group work), and how this knowledge can (read: should) be incorporated into your management style.
We’re humans who are constantly changing, and our work life should be, too. Whether you’re taking a new job, switching to remote work or returning to the office after taking leave, how can you make that transition successful?
We’ll discuss strategies for dealing with everything from a moving across the country to a move across the company. The first step: Planning a graceful exit that leaves your current employer and/or team with good feelings about your time there. Then, we’ll move on to the new gig. What’s the best goal to set in your first day, week and month at a new workplace? What’s the ideal way to introduce yourself to your new manager and best enable them to help you meet your career goals? How do you get yourself up to speed, whether you’re starting at a new workplace or returning from leave?
We’ll also explore how organizations can best support new workers and make sure they have what they need to be a successful team member — and adapt to the changes that they will inevitably bring to the organization. Let’s find new ways to support one another in times of transition.
Proposed by Paul Murray and Samuel Jacoby
Our readers are on their phones. The numbers show it and we all know it. So why are we so bad at developing and designing for the mobile news experience? It’s not that we’re bad at our jobs. It’s because being “mobile first” is surprisingly hard to do.
Developing for news means meeting readers wherever they might be, on whatever device they may be using — new or old, small or large, fast or slow. As projects grow more ambitious, it’s more and more challenging to support the full diversity of reader experiences.
There are plenty of existing platforms that aim to help make the mobile development process more robust and efficient. However, these tools are geared towards the typical case of mobile development, where a developer has fine-grained control over a website or app at the platform level. These platforms don’t work as well (or at all) in a newsroom, where interactive content is often constrained by a larger publishing platform.
Proposed by David Montgomery
There’s more than one way to build a graphic — but which one is best (for you)? We’ll discuss two paradigms for making charts, apps and other nerds nerd tasks: automate as much as you can, even if you have to sacrifice some design elegance, or take the time to make the thing perfect, even if you have to sacrifice reproducibility and time. What are the pros and cons of each approach, and to what degree can and should we find a compromise in the middle?
After a discussion, we’ll break into small groups and brainstorm the best workflows for some sample datasets, then come together and discuss the ideas. Participants will come away with not only a better understanding of the philosophical issue, but also ideas about particular tools they could incorporate into their workflow.
If you’d like to help present, contact me at email@example.com.
Proposed by Nicole Zhu
We’re constantly talking about ways to “level up” our skills, advance a side project, or turn a side hustle into your full-time job. But not every side project translates to a career, and not every hobby needs to be a side hustle. In this session, we’ll discuss what makes each of these categories unique and necessary, but also brainstorm ways to evaluate whether a certain activity or project should be a hobby, a side hustle, or a career. How do you optimize for where you are, and where it’s ok to be? When should you get paid for something and when should you do it for yourself? What do you do when you’re gaining or losing energy and momentum? What if we didn’t equate not excelling with failing?
Let’s discuss ways to reflect and check in with ourselves (and each other) in order to strike a balance in each of these areas and detect burnout when it’s avoidable.
Proposed by Anika Gupta
‘Membership’ and ‘reader revenue’ have become media buzzwords. In this session, Anika Gupta, a researcher with the Membership Puzzle Project in New York, will review the project’s research, including our work studying membership in analogous (nonmedia) spaces, the difference between ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ models of membership, and how to design a program in partnership with your community. We’ll review some of MPP’s user research materials and findings, and then create opportunities for workshopping and small team exercises focused on designing the right membership program and offerings for your space and organization.
What have you built that’s now ignored? What took off and is now central to your newsroom’s daily grind? What was the difference?
We’re a product manager in New York and an editor in D.C., on the front lines of making and deciding to use a variety of tools, from those that help with daily coverage planning to chart-making to immersive storytelling. Let’s talk about what’s lived on and what’s languished so that we can crack the code on building tools journalists actually use.
One strong hunch of ours: We can take concrete steps to deepen relationships between folks who see opportunities to solve problems (or stand to benefit) and those who are building the solutions.
Let’s find themes in our boondoggles and wild successes and come away with an invaluable compilation of battle-tested advice to guide your next project.
Proposed by Julia B. Chan
I don’t know about you, but I have a journalism playlist. It’s pretty dorky and fairly wide ranging: from Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth” to Drake’s “Headlines.” So, what would be on a SRCCON playlist? Yeah, probably a lot of Prince (bc Minneapolis)—but what else? Gang Starr’s “Code Of The Streets”? The Who’s “Going Mobile”? Let’s come together, make a list, program it, and share it out with the rest of the conference after.
Proposed by Sam Ward and Hannah Young
Our phones are incredibly intimate devices. We lovingly cradle them and stare into their gently glowing screens at all hours of the day. In this session, we will explore methods for using that intimacy to build authentic personal relationships with audiences via SMS – without being spammy or creepy.
Participants should bring a recent or upcoming story, and together we will conceive, script, and prototype a SMS campaign to connect with your audience.
We’ll touch on topics including: message tone and frequency, what to send people and when, choosing the right technology platform, potential costs, legal considerations, as well as common pitfalls and tactics for overcoming them. We’ll also share some of our data on how building respectful SMS products has impacted membership.
Proposed by Ryann Grochowski Jones
Mission statements are more than lofty goals written in fancier-than-usual language. When thoughtfully crafted, a mission statement unites a team by determining what’s most important to its members. A simple and explicit mission statement can also serve as a guideline for task prioritization. Let’s craft a step-by-step guide to writing mission statements that encourages team participation, solicits their feedback and helps determine what your team truly prioritizes.
Proposed by Dana Amihere
It happens all the time. We parachute into a community for a short time because something “newsworthy” happens rather than coming in to stay and maintain a steady relationship. Think Sutherland Springs and other locales of mass shootings. Think rural America and the 2016 presidential election. Think of the minority areas of our communities that remain underserved, underrepresented and without coverage aside from tragedies.
How do we put down the ripcord and instead pull up a chair in these communities?
Let’s spend some time learning how to do a baseline assessment of our news organization’s coverage of diverse communities using analytics tools we already use everyday to identify blind spots. Let’s arm ourselves with actionable strategies we can use when we return to our newsrooms and can use to have these difficult conversations about our coverage’s shortcomings with top decision-makers. And finally, let’s devise a set of best practices to engage diverse communities in the interim between news events and build lasting future relationships.
Proposed by Patricia Minczeski
I’m so much more of a cat person, but if I said Old Cat, you wouldn”t get it, right?
Consumer debt, inflation, oil prices, Facebook’s share price, the next recession, bear markets, job growth in Idaho: these are just as much a part of the news as much elections and shootings.
What are the steps in analyzing and visualizing economic or markets data? How do you make sure you understand the data? What is the role of a narrative in the formation of a graphic? How do you do the research and formulate an idea? One strategy is to “interview’ reporters who cover these subjects to deepen your understanding before you speak with other sources.
Which is the right chart type for your data (open discussion time). None of this is new, it’s constantly tossed around and yet, but rarely settled. Do the rules change when the presentation goes from static to interactive? What about scales? What are the benefits of small multiples?
We’ll set aside the fancy tools and new algorithms. This session will be about core principles that are easy to overlook if you’re working on deadline or just lack experience.
There will be some new tricks as well! There are a host of wonderful new visualizations by new and old talents to explore.
Proposed by Christine Mohan
Civil will be an open publishing platform built on journalistic ethics and standards. It is powered by a blockchain-based, cryptoeconomic system using CVL, a dedicated token; this token enables newsmakers and citizens (readers) to co-own and self-govern the platform. We’ll discuss reader roles vs. creator roles, i.e. community-approved journalists, as well as developers who build new tools and experiences based on broad ecosystem demand.
And we’ll discuss the critcal role of the CVL token, which is not only the mechanism by which our community will connect with the Ethereum blockchain. The token also allows us to economically incentivize actions that result in quality journalism in Civil’s marketplace, and to make it prohibitively difficult — and expensive — for bad actors and trolls to emerge.
We will be bringing a proposed draft for API-driven advertising to this session. We’ll run through what we have, the thinking behind it and the types of products we believe the API schema can drive. We’ll end the session by sitting down with participants and working through criticism and ideas for alterations. Our goal is to build a schema that content management systems and advertising back ends can share, allowing different publishers and third parties to communicate server to server. Then at the end of the session we’ll take the beta version of the JSON schema and open source it on GitHub.
Proposed by Kennedy Elliott
As a graphics editor, I see maps and charts all the time that, to their detriment, fail to follow conventional rules of visualization. Categorical data is thrown together on a line chart; bar charts aren’t grounded from a 0 baseline; three-dimensional pie charts have exploded. Data journalism and visualization has gained a lot of attention over the last decade, and many of us at this conference have scrambled to build and understand the ground rules of sound data reporting. Because of this, terrible vis has become a punchline, and Twitter amplifies the performance of calling out flaws, corrections and grievances. This isn’t limited to charting; it also happens with data analysis and journalism as a whole.
Of course, calling out misinformation and negligent reporting is necessary, but quibbling over personal preferences or imperfections can be discouraging and downright shaming. Behind every editorial piece is a human, and this business is smaller than we think. It can be personally devastating to have your professional work mobbed on social media.
Criticism that is presented thoughtlessly creates a culture for many that discourages exploration, which is vital for our respective fields. How can we be kinder and more effective in our public critiques? How can we do better for ourselves and each other? Come for the war stories, stay for the positive vibes.
Proposed by Andrew Briz
Do I use “display” or “position” for that? Sometimes you just want to make sure your newsroom tool does it’s job and not have to worry about what it looks like. Well, your days of worrying about front-end design could soon be over. Slack’s suite of API’s are vast and the documentation is one of the best of any API out there. In this session, I’ll quickly demo most of the different methods of interaction available with Slack’s APIs. We’ll build a simple graphics request form together as a group. When that’s finished, we’ll brainstorm ideas for other newsroom tools and discuss how our front-end needs could be met by one or more of the methods we’ve seen so far. We’ll be using Flask to do it, so basic Flask and Python knowledge will be required.
Slack has a number of features you might need from a front-end design already included. Unprompted function calls? Slack has slash commands. Do they support arguments? You bet they do. Filling out forms? Slack’s got that too. Giving personal user feedback when a script runs? Ephemeral messages make sure that only a single user can see the notification without ever having to leave the channel. Learn about all these and more in the session.
Proposed by Scott Blumenthal
SOCRATES: A man recently threw me into confusion by rudely asking me “How, if you please, do you know, what sort of things are beautiful and ugly? For, come now, could you tell me what the beautiful is?” I was at a loss and could not answer him properly. Come, then, Hippias, let me rehearse: I shall say that if a beautiful person is beautiful, there is something by reason of which he or she would be beautiful. “How charming you are, Socrates!” he will say. “But is not a beautiful horse beautiful, which even the god praised in his oracle?” What shall we say, Hippias? How could we dare to deny that the beautiful thing is beautiful?
HIPPIAS: Quite true, Socrates, for very beautiful horses are bred in our country.
SOCRATES: “Very well,” he will say, “and how about a beautiful lyre? Is it not beautiful?” Shall we agree, Hippias?
SOCRATES: After this, then, the man will ask, I am sure, “You most excellent man, how about a beautiful pot?”
HIPPIAS: What an uncultivated fellow!
SOCRATES: That’s the kind of person he is, Hippias, not elegant, but vulgar, thinking of nothing but the truth.
– Liberal paraphrasing of Plato’s Hippias Major, 286d - 288e
It’s hard enough for many of us to just explain what we do for a living; how could we expect people outside our field to understand that there’s actually beauty in it? Because there is, isn’t there?
Let’s gather for a little symposium on the subject. We will start with a few presentations by fellow attendees on concrete examples of beauty they have discovered in their own work: a perfect one-liner, an exquisite pivot table, an interface that brings harmony to an unruly application. Then we’ll open the floor to more examples and discussion.
We will enjoy the beauty of watching each other describe the beautiful, and find courage to share our own unsung experiences of beauty. We’ll draw connections between beauty in our fields and others. We’ll resolve to dig around in our old work for treasures. We’ll consider ways we can keep our most beautiful creations close by in our everyday work, as private inspiration and affirmation.
If you are interested in being one of our presenters, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journalism-as-a-Service: Building and running paid software and data tools within a news organization
Proposed by Michael Morisy
“Service journalism” used to cover the latest tips on saving money on groceries or hacking your frequent flyer miles, but as news organizations become better at building and maintaining databases and news tools, they can actually empower their audiences in new ways, whether that’s with premium databases, specialized software, or other new revenue streams tied to digital products. Come discuss what newsrooms of all sizes can learn from software-as-a-service business, including both the opportunities and challenges that business brings. Will include real numbers and a case study from an organization that went all-in on this approach, including details on some of the more unexpected challenges.
Proposed by Yuri Victor and Arjuna Soriano, Ha-Hoa Hamano
Voice interfaces are not the future. They are here. Today. This will change how we write, communicate, develop, and design. This session will take a look at how voice is affecting journalism, how our different newsrooms are reacting to the new platform, and the implications for the future. We will discuss learnings, challenges, successes, failures, opportunities, and false starts. We will attempt to predict the future of the voice space with a brainstorming exercise followed by prototyping a voice interface for news.
Proposed by Andrew McGill
We’ll discuss concepts and best practices around testing new ideas for the news through prototyping — making the minimum of your minimum viable product. What’s the best workflow to move from crazy idea to barebones prototype to production product? And how can you involve your readers and audience in this process?
Proposed by Lauren Flannery
You’re a developer in a mixed media team where everyone has the same goal: To create something visually striking and engaging. Working up against deadlines, you have to gather the pieces you need for a web presentation from photographers, videographers and illustrators who are eager to help, but who may not understand the challenges in responsive, browser compatible, quick loading web design. Many of the technical problems developers experience can be cleared up with clear communication among mixed media teams where everyones’ expertise is validated, so we’ll be sharing tips, common pitfalls and experiences on how to manage a media design project from vision to webpage. This session will be part open round table discussion between developers and multimedia journalists, and part small groups and games.
Talk Less. Listen More. How Listening Can Help Journalists Begin to Repair Relationships with Marginalized or Ignored Communities
Proposed by Amy L. Kovac-Ashley
When most journalists listen, all we are doing is waiting for the next opportunity to ask a question of a source or community member. Rarely do we employ active listening - a practice that could help us when trying to reach neglected audiences. Through a series of guided exercises in small groups, we will talk about how really listening can change the way journalists do their jobs and about the culture change required in newsrooms to achieve this goal. Our jumping-off point will be the findings from a spring thought leader summit that the American Press Institute held in Nashville. We expect participants will have many of their own experiences - both highs and lows - to share with each other.
Proposed by Daan Louter
There are so many ways to tell your story or to visualise your data. But how do you know which one fits best for your story?
In this session we are going to find a way that can help journalists go from story idea to the best way to tell it. We’ll end up with a tool that can be used within your organisation.
Privacy is coming to the forefront of national conversation (again) and many non-EU publishers are discovering late in the game they need to comply with the EU privacy laws like the GDPR - or block all EU traffic. California is pondering similar laws, Canada might follow Europe’s approach and the ad industry scrambles to adapt.
This session will start with real and practical approaches to lockdown your site from a privacy perspective (with source code) and best practices on how to minimize data collection and tracking on your visitors.
It will include a larger discussion to share notes, strategies, concerns from news organizations on how we can improve and do better. The goal is that participants are more aware of the issues, and armed to grapple with privacy concerns in their organizations.
Proposed by Mindy McAdams
What the title says: I’d like to make this hackathon happen, pooling the talents of journalists with skills in data, code and public records. What would be the best format and the best number of participants to actually produce a plan — a do-able plan — to build a continuing resource that many journalists and journalism orgs could benefit from? Could we include journalism students and some educators in the hackathon? How should a successful hackathon be organized? How do we define “successful”?
I’m thinking of a hackathon that aims to spawn something like the California Civic Data Coalition but for public records, FOI data — more a database than a tool, but a database that can be used for more than just getting data out. It would be the hackathon of your dreams, with continued funding and support after the event itself. In this session, we’d brainstorm the hackathon itself, while the resource (the database or whatever) would emerge from the future hackathon.
Do you yearn to be a datapoint adrift in a sea of predictions? This is your opportunity to get to the bottom of what actually happens when a machine learning algorithm runs by acting it out.
After you BECOME a machine learning algorithm – a human learning algorithm! – we will discuss the technical, ethical and communication problems we have unconvered. What is it like to be the most technical person in the room when someone shouts, “Why don’t we try machine learning?”
Journalists are no longer just reporting on machine learning, but also using it. What’s more, your editors and colleagues are suggesting that we use it. You’ll leave this session with a better understanding of common principles in machine learning and an awareness of how people in similar roles are thinking about these problems.
Proposed by Sonja Marziano
Collaborative projects and partnerships can improve journalism efforts by uniting organizations where competition typically exists. We know the value that collaboration can add to projects by sharing the effort or including diverse perspectives. Yet it is challenging to build shared values of privacy and collaboration into a model that serves each individual organization and their needs. The Chicago Data Collaborative was a test to see if, together, news organizations, researchers, advocacy groups and civic technologists were greater than the sum of their parts. Today, the Chicago Data Collaborative is working to access data from public agencies, and then organize, document, and link that data together to help understand Chicago’s criminal justice system.
In this session, we will share some of the lessons we learned— from assessing the expertise and needs in our ecosystem to creating a data-sharing and governance agreement and a pilot database of criminal justice data. More importantly, as a group, we will discuss and navigate the steps to convene organizations and to create a sustainable model that reflects the goals of all parties involved.
Proposed by Jovi Juan
Whenever I hire someone, I tell them, “Every two years, you need to fire yourself.“. To work in the field of graphics today, you need to be constantly retraining yourself, pick up new skills as your old skills age out and use them at a high level very quickly. What are the strategies people use to keep their staffs trained? How do you bring people not who are not coders to a place where they can contribute to digital projects in a meaningful way? How do you keep highly skilled people interested and ready to help others advance to an equivalent level? I’d hope that we could explore and discuss what other people and organizations are doing to teach new skills and build on established ones.
Proposed by Emily Yount Swelgin
Your team has done the hard work of identifying problems, setting goals and designing solutions. Now it’s time to present and review the work — the most important, under-appreciated and scary part of the process. Both presenters and reviewers play an important role in any design review, so we’ll work together to write a cheatsheet for giving and receiving great feedback.
Do you appreciate how the nerds you work with can make digital magic, but grow impatient when they wax on about methodology? Do you admire the journalists you collaborate with and their innate storytelling abilities, but resent when they assume that “fix” is going to be “easy”?
In this intersection of tech and journalism, journalists have to work with developers, data journalists have to work with designers; while product managers, producers and editors try to translate between them all. It can be frustrating to figure out how to do this well and not silently stew. We’ll work through the struggles with understanding and identify how to foster better collaboration and bridge communication gaps.
Though newsrooms are working on innovative new projects with these teams more than ever, it can be difficult to know how to work with people whose skills you might not understand; and even more tricky to lead those teams.
Proposed by Ben Connors
It doesn’t matter if you call it “augmented,” “virtual”, “mixed” or “cross.” A whole range of new technologies are enabling journalists to capture realities (visually speaking, anyway) and share them with their audiences.
We’ll start with a lightening quick explanation of what 6DoF experiences are. We’ll quickly review some of the tools that Video Lab West and others are using to create those experiences and then we’ll get hands on. (10 mins)
We’ll break out into small groups to use actual reality capture tools like a structured light scanner. Folks will get to try creating their own 3D models, see how to post process them, and then learn how to host them in a simple webAR gallery (using aframe.io and AR.js). (35 mins)
We’ll reserve the last 20 minutes for a group discussion and brainstorm about the future of the medium. What tools are missing or lacking? What ethical standards might need to be put in place and communicated to our audiences? What narrative constructs might work for different types of journalism? How are we going to get this stuff to pay for itself? What non-fiction 6DoF sessions can we assemble next year?
Proposed by Sinduja Rangarajan
The traditional academic-journalist relationship goes like this: a journalist would talk to an academic as a source and expert for his/her story. An academic would reach out to the media when he/she has published a new paper. But is there way to forge a deeper relationship and bring academics into the reporting process? What do journalists bring to the table for academics and vice versa? I’ve been reflecting on this question for two years by studying these collaborations and partnering with academics to produce stories. I’d like to share with the group what I’ve learned so far and start a conversation about how these partnerships can enrich journalism.
Software-Defined Radios as a source of newsworthy data: uses, requirements, and pain points in a conversation format
Proposed by Ben Keith
Last year, Jon Keegan and the Tow Center provided session participants with an RTL-SDR dongle. How have journalists used to Software-Defined Radios and other methods to inspect the radio spectrum? We’ll talk about radio-powered journalism projects that people have done, about the hardware used, regulatory and practical hurdles, and what you’d like to do. Come prepared to talk about projects you’ve wanted to do, and to pick each others’ brains. Participants should leave with ideas for analyses they can replicate in their own reporting.
Answer the following:
“Mueller’s Investigation Gains Steam” a. Robert Mueller as Thomas the Tank Engine b. a color is moving faster and its spread is getting dispersed c. steam punk Robert Mueller d. something completely different
“In a Post Crisis World, Where We Still Go To Work” a. line chart plunges from the sky into the earth b. Tesla autonomous vehicle stars in Mad Max reprise c. an abstract ballet, where politicians are circles and the stock market is a square d. something completely different
“Local car dealers rush to consolidate” a. Circles gloop together to grow into larger circles with circle tires b. Speed Racer has to merge onto highway c. collage of used car dealership signs and merge roadsigns d. something completely different
In this exercise, we make as many drawings as we can, using a headline as our origin point. It helps us loosen up! It helps us gain confidence in quick ideas! It makes us treat ideas less preciously! It strengthen our visual muscles! It makes us less sad! And it gets us bridging the gap between words and images!
If we think about headlines as the text’s grounding concept, can we think of our drawings as the visual’s grounding concept?
- It could be an illustration, that explores the story’s tone.
- It could be a comic, that tells the story in a scenario
- It could be multiple panels, that questions how you organize your narrative
- It could be an abstraction, that pokes at how elements interact
- It could be a silly doodle, that helps you bounce back after an intense project
Whether they’re ugly, clever, dumb, or practical, we’ve integrated illustration into our routine. And now we have a lot of drawings.
WHAT DO I GOTTA DO TO GET A BYLINE WITH MY NAME ON IT, a.k.a. When, why and how can a non-traditional (data, visual, social) journalist get a byline?
Proposed by Moiz Syed
Many newsrooms have recently seen an increase in non-traditional journalists joining as staff. This includes people who help us tell immersive stories online, or do research and reporting using data analysis, mapping, programming or some other skill that might seem like magic to a vast majority of editors. Despite making critical contributions in the reporting and production of the story, they still are not appropriately credited on the story due to wide-ranging issues including newsroom culture/history that subtly manifests that only certain type of reporters can get a byline on a story. Or more mundane issues like the CMS might not allow certain people to get credited or only get credit in a particular way. Since bylines are the most prominent way to get recognized for your work, it also has an impact on what type of person gets further along as their career progresses.
In this session, we will have a broad discussion around the culture of crediting in newsrooms, how it impacts career trajectories, and what are some small and large things we can do to make bylines be more representative of who did the work.
Our goal of the session includes documenting and expanding on a byline guidelines document that the wider digital journalism community can share with their editors and newsrooms. This document would outline why, when and how data/visual/social/non-traditional journalists should get credited on a story.
Proposed by Rosy Catanach
An editor, a designer, an engineer, and a product person walk into a room…
It sounds like the start of a corny joke, but increasingly we find ourselves in these types of situations - small, interdisciplinary teams working together to solve a problem. The thinking says - throw a lot of really smart people in a room and -magic!- they will figure it out!
The reality is, it does work, but it’s extremely difficult. People misunderstand each other, and motivations and goals are not often articulated, leading to disarray. Working with new people is hard, and it’s especially hard when you have to move fast and you’re not all speaking the same language! But fear not - starting things off on the right foot can have huge payoffs - team buy-in, alignment, and trust. The goal is to get the team to move faster by getting some tough conversations out of the way.
This is an interactive session in which participants will simulate this exact situation - participants will be given a problem prompt, break out into small, cross-disciplinary teams, then participate in kickoff exercises designed to force hard conversations and perhaps give participants a moment of self-reflection - “are you an order or chaos muppet?”, hopes/fears/sacred cows, the road to nirvana, the pre-mortem - and more!
These exercises work best for teams with 5-10 members with any combination of disciplines, but can be scaled up or down as needed.
After spending a year in the journalism industry after graduating from schools in flyover country, we’ve realized that students wanting to go into more technical fields in journalism have a lot more obstacles to face than our classmates who want to go into traditional media. Additionally, many journalism schools don’t have the resources to prepare students for the industry, so the burden often lies on the student to get the exposure needed to get into this field. This does not only discourage talented young people from entering into the field, but it also creates a homogenous culture in tech journalism.
We’ll chat a little bit about our challenges and successes we’ve faced, and then try to find ways for how we can mentor current students who don’t have those resources locally to break into tech journalism. We’ll also chat about how to help students learn on the job.
Most journalism conferences these days have a session about mental health. A lot of us have stressful jobs, and coming up with strategies to decompress from that is great. But what if you have a chronic mental illness or condition that’s unrelated to (or exacerbated by) your work? Or you’re not sure, but yoga and kale aren’t cutting it?
In this session, we’ll go beyond self-care to talk about strategies for managing chronic jerkbrains in, and outside of, the newsroom. From cognitive behavioral therapy to grounding, let’s share practical ways to be your best at work and in life. This session will be completely off-the-record.
Proposed by Jarrad Henderson
Do you have innovation A.D.D.? Struggling to engage with your target audience despite the latest and greatest 4K camera being pointed at your subject? Did you know the BEST stories have shapes? Yup. Throw that gimbal away and pick up your Crayons! USA Today Producer Jarrad Henderson explores the “Shape of Stories” as conceived by Kurt Vonnegut and shows you why it’s time to get back to basics. Come learn how shapes, the art of the remix and practicing the A.I. Technique can help you become a master storyteller!
Proposed by Elaine Wong and Anis Robert Heydari
Anyone can make a YouTube video in their basement. But it’s surprisingly cheap and easy to have you looking, sounding and streaming as good as the professional TV stations – all on your own and without spending a lot of money.
A laptop, webcam, microphone and a dash of software can get you livestreaming on all the biggest platforms. Be the YouTuber in the basement… without looking or sounding like it. Learn the tricks that we use in TV to make you look and sound good without spending any money. Because if anyone knows how to be cheap, it’s public broadcasters from Canada!
Your friends in broadcast will still talk about needing a control room, a studio and either a lot of people, or a few people wishing they had a lot of people to help them.
Proposed by Mark Yakich and Jason Hunter
Poetry isn’t only about self-expression and seeing the beauty in what surrounds us. In fact, poetry is more often about probing what lies beneath the news and our everyday lives. This workshop session explores what poetry has to do with the news, and how poetry can help journalists and technologists re-envision their work. We’ll explore the strategies of reading poems and how to apply them to create compelling narratives and how to approach ambiguity. We’ll also use collaborative writing techniques to help generate innovative ideas and approaches in journalism.
Proposed by Jessica (Jessie) Willms
One of the strengths of our team at CBC is that we are very aware of each other’s abilities (technical and non-technical) and interests (technical and around story).
Because of this, we are able to give honest and constructive feedback on a regular basis — whether it be on story ideas we are pitching to the group, or the specifics of the code we are writing. This session will cover ways in which individual team members can help develop overall stronger teams. In additional, the group will work to develop a best practises guidebook.
Slow-moving, risk-averse, and an (occasional) pain-in-the-ass to work with — the platform can be the bane of ambitious design and experimentation. At The New York Times (and elsewhere) most innovative storytelling has traditionally taken place outside of it. The platform handles the boring nuts-and-bolts of newsmaking — and we get to do the cool stuff. What if designers and developers were more involved in platform-level tooling and software? What does it look like to get over the fear of the complexities of platform and native app architecture, and love it for what it can offer — reusable, scalable tools, and broad exposure to the rest of your newsroom? Drawing on our shared experiences building tools for newsrooms, in this workshop, we’ll look at using ProseMirror, the basis of The New York Time’s new editing interface, to see how meeting editors and reporters where they are already working can crack open the door to story innovation.
Proposed by Pietro Passarelli
Love it or hate it NY Times snow fall as exemplified the issue around creating new story formats for digital publishers. But surprisingly discussions around it are generally not very productive. The tension with product teams and journalists is often whether you spend six months or longer on a high profile feature piece or platform or make tweaks to your CMS to make it more innovative and forward-thinking.
At the BBC News Labs we experimented with 6 week project sprints and as part of one of these first project sprints we made an “interactive” graphic novel/comic book story with the BBC World service. We want to share our experience of how you go from defining an idea with editorial stakeholders, iterating and delivering on that while creating an experience that reaches a global audience under time pressure. Can a prototype ever be production ready code?
We are also keen to hear from others that might have tried doing experiments and promote innovation in their newsroom to knowledge share on what tweaks and tricks might have worked as well as biggest challenges. Let’s see if we can come up with the main points for an outline for a virtual “rapid prototyping from idea to working product handbook.”
Proposed by Carolyn Gearig
As non-editorial design/tech employees at news orgs, we’re often subject to the same social media policies as reporters and editors, and need to limit our involvement in anything that would be considered biased.
I work on the design/tech team of a news org. On the one hand, I don’t make decisions about our content, so any personal bias has no impact on our news coverage. On the other hand, I know that anything I say could be reflected on the company as a whole, and many news consumers don’t differentiate between editorial and non-editorial employees.
The value of non-bias/objectivity, whether or not objectivity is possible, and the ways that these policies impact those with marginalized identities is a hot topic of conversation. It also has unique implications for staff who don’t make editorial decisions. Let’s discuss what the policies are where we work and what the impact is on various kinds of employees.
Proposed by Alan Palazzolo
The command line is a black box (a white box on a Mac) that holds so much power but is very inaccessible to newcomers. Personally, it has taken me years to feel comfortable with it, and I still regularly learn things that wow me and improve my workflow. Being comfortable with the command line can make you more efficient in your work, might even be fun, and people in coffee-shops will think you are some kind of “hacker”.
How can we shed light on this amazing, scary black box? What are the things you do to make the command line more fun? What scares you about the command line? How did you go from someone that just copies and pastes commands to one that writes commands from scratch? How do we find answers to our questions about the command line? And what’s the difference between the command line, Terminal, shell, bash, Powershell, and many other weird words?
Beginners and experts alike, let’s share our real world experience with the command line and raise everyone’s ANSI boats.
Proposed by Anthony Cave
Is that story really a “must-run?” Reporters and data journalists shouldn’t feel bad for taking vacation days in a never ending news cycle. Or working through a cold. Rest and recover – it’s okay!
Proposed by Albert Sun
It’s easier for me to see what The New York Times published in print in 1851 than it is to see what it published digitally in 1996. Why is that? Is any other news website in a better state?
Digital publishing moves fast, but as we evolve the form of news online, how can we preserve what we publish in a way that will let the historians of the future understand the evolution of the medium? Is a SoundSlides audio slideshow going to work in any way in 50 years? Or a Brightcove player video? If you do archive a page, has it lost something essential if it’s lost the dynamic ad code or personalization features?
These are hard questions, but let’s try and come together and create a plan for pitching the value of preserving and archiving digital news to others at our organizations, and start creating best practices for doing it.
Proposed by Julia Haslanger
The salary gap is real. Non-men make less money than men, and non-white people make less money than white people. One of the best tools people can have when negotiating for pay is an accurate sense of what the market rate for the position is. The only way you’ll know what the market rate is for specialized jobs like the folks here at SRCCON have? If you talk to each other! This session will involve role play (first with fictional numbers and scenarios, and then moving into reality-based conversations).
Proposed by Emma Carew Grovum and Karen Hao, Robert Hernandez
We’ve all done it: used technology to force a culture change within the newsroom. We want to tell you a little bit about how we’ve worked to hack our newsrooms with innovation, but then we want to help you brainstorm your best idea for changing your work culture. In addition to a massive brainstorm and review of best practices for leading change and innovation, we’ll pair you with a secret pen pal who will help keep you accountable for your goal.
- Robert regularly works with students in the world academia to force innovation.
- Emma changed the way her newsroom filed stories and mandated Slack for the whole company.
- Karen’s newsroom instituted an initiative where each month, reporters and editors hold a lab week to experiment with new ideas
We want participants to go back to their newsrooms on Monday armed with a new confidence for making change, a list of best practices to try employing, and a specific goal in mind to start work on immediately. Further, we’ll pair folks up with a secret pen pal from the session to help keep them accountable in six weeks, six months.
You worked on a cool project, you spoke with other folks who might be interested in the same, and notice a lot of re-inventing the wheel because of fragmented pockets of knowledge here and there. Now how would you go about creating a micro community that connect people with similar interests? To facilitate knowledge share, collaboration, problem solving and breeding ground for new ideas.
Drawing on participants experience will try to identify key challenges as well as strategies to overcome those. I will share my experience with connecting the textAV (textAV.tech) community to kickstart the conversation.
By the end of the session will have 10 takeaways of actionable things you can try out right away.
Proposed by Hannah Birch
Working in journalism is a lot like flying an airplane:
- The stakes are high
- The work matters a lot
- Sometimes the steps are tedious
Sometimes journalists forget stuff. This can lead to things like:
- Messy, stressful project launches
- Inefficient workflows
- Frustration, tears, questioning whether you should even be flying airplanes (or working in a hospital or doing journalism) in the first place
Just like in aviation, making and using checklists can help avoid mistakes and help you work together better with other people. Checklists can also help standardize processes and make decisions more transparent. Think about things like:
- Writing stories
- Designing layouts
- Launching projects
- Hiring (particularly hiring well)
- Running and following up after meetings
- Enjoying a work life with less frustration/tears
Learn how (and where and when) to use checklists for:
- Yourself and your day-to-day work
- Your team
- Your projects
- Your co-workers
- Your organization
Proposed by Justin Myers and Julia Haslanger
Many journalists advance early in their careers by moving to other organizations, but what do you do when your next job is in the same newsroom you’re already in? Let’s talk about how to navigate changing roles within an organization, including handing off your old responsibilities and establishing new relationships.
Whether you’re planning to move to a new team or to a new role within the same team, come and learn from each other about potential challenges and some effective strategies for the transition.
Proposed by Matt Johnson
In the news nerd community, job responsibilities can be fluid. By definition, we all work close to the blurry line between content producers and technology producers. Sometimes, we are also asked to work close to a similar intersection between individual contributor, people manager, product owner, or some combination thereof. This can mean changes to our day-to-day work lives that raise a lot of questions, including: If I built my professional identity around one type of work, what does it mean that I’m not doing that as much anymore? How do I build the skills I need to succeed now? And, how do I keep my chops if I ever need to go back to what I was doing before?
In this session, we’ll map out together what sort of experiences we’ve had navigating these organizational and career twists, and what answers we’ve all come up with for the questions they raise.
It seems like news nerds are dividing into two camps: those who are quitting their jobs to join block chain media startups and those who have no earthly idea what block chain has to do with journalism. Surely both groups will be represented in some form at SRCCON so let’s get together and educate each other.
This will not be a debate or an attempt to prove or disprove whether block chain is good or bad for journalism. It’s an earnest call for the people who understand how the same technology underlying a marketplace for digital cats is going to power a distributed journalism to explain it to the rest of us.
Note: this session is urgently in need of at least one co-presenter who understands block chain enough to be excited about it.
Proposed by Maarten Lauwaert
Let’s talk, and work together with users, about the future of news in a post Facebook world. As we are now using Facebook for everything except writing our articles, a whole new world of opportunities opens up for journalists and news departments. From incorporating more social elements in our platforms to creating new user experiences. Our platforms will (maybe) regain value, and if this happens, coding and journalism will hopefully finally intertwine at a much higher level than today.
Proposed by Allison Lichter Joseph and Joe Germuska
At Journalism + Design, we’ve been developing a deck of creativity cards, a la Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies and the IDEO Method Cards. The cards are designed to help integrate the design process and systems thinking into the newsroom and train emerging journalists. The idea is this: at various stages in the reporting and production process, if you’re feeling stuck or just want to cover your bases, you’d review the cards for that stage, or just pick one at random. You might draw cards like:
- Do a driveby. Put up your prototype and get feedback from a general audience
- Murder your darlings. Be ruthless about cutting any fat
- Connect loops. Use a systems lens to trace connections between forces within your story.
Each card encapsulates a best practice or perspective that can remind you to start off on the right foot or help you get back in gear if you’re stuck. We’d love SRCCON to help us “playtest” the cards and refine the process and the content. We should have some sets of cards for people to take back to their newsrooms.
Proposed by Amanda Hickman
OpenNews and the BuzzFeed Open Lab collaborated with a ton of really smart journalists, editors, and trainers to compile a resource guide for newsroom security trainers. (https://securitytraining.opennews.org/). It’s a great round up of new lesson plans and links out to existing lessons that cover important topics in digital privacy and security. We’d love to show you what’s in the guide and spend some time adding even more resources to it. If you have lesson plans to share or just a few favorite resources or news stories that really make sense of a particular topic, bring them!
Proposed by Elizabeth Melito
It’s hard to take the time to take care of yourself, especially in a busy newsroom, and especially when nobody around you is taking care of themselves, either. Let’s promote a better newsroom culture by setting healthy micro-goals, and getting our colleagues to help us keep them.
In this session, we’ll chat about bad habits that we share and good habits that we would like to build, sort out how to get support from team members, and brainstorm some ideas for fun rewards when we make progress. I’ll help you build out a goal chart (think Bingo) that each member of your team can use to track their own progress. When the team collects enough points, you all get rewarded, so make sure you help your desk mate reach their goals, too!
Proposed by Austin Smith
Journalists, news technologists, researchers, and designers are the architects of the digital news experience. But most news websites have much more going on than what we build ourselves, by way of programmatic advertising, social networks, paid content, and platform integrations. We’ll discuss how advertisers think about web traffic, and in a hands-on workshop, we’ll brainstorm a news product that monetizes engagement instead of attention.
I’m a stranger here myself: Building a newsroom roadmap for young journalists of color and their allies
What can we do to empower diverse journalists, including younger journalists, people of color, and women and non-binary individuals, in newsrooms that often lack mentorship and support? To answer this question, first we must address your identity—which parts of your identity do you bring with you to work? Which parts do you leave at the door? How does that affect your newsroom experience and how the news is covered in America’s increasingly divisive political and social climate? We’ll begin the session with an exercise that explores our own identities. Different identities impact the work you do and how you interact with others. Then, after hearing from different people in the group, we’ll develop strategies for listening, mentorship, and self-care, using examples from our own experiences at The Seattle Times and The New York Times to explore strategies that we’ve seen work, and how to improve.
Proposed by Maarten Lauwaert
Ok, the title is a bit cheesy, but it’s true: I have never met a more engaged, concerned, hard working bunch of people than the ones I encounter on the news floor. Journalists know exactly what stories to tell and the way they have to tell it.
But for some reason that all falls away when they are asked to create a web article. Or a mini website, together with a developer. Or an online movie clip. Which is, at first sight understandable. But then again, isn’t it just storytelling?
By bringing journalists, developers and digital creatives together, we can empower journalists to think about how they want their story to be told. And by creating tools that simplify tasks like creating After Effects assets, short form video or webpages, journalists can get more and more sucked in in the wonderful world of online opportunities.
Being open about your expectations, your work style, and your strengths and weaknesses helps you and your direct reports trust each other and do better work. But this stuff is hard to talk about, and it can take a long time to build that trust organically. As a manager, the onboarding process is a chance to set the tone early and give your relationship a head start.
The idea of a “Welcome to Me” onboarding deck has been spreading through management culture in engineering. In this session, engineering manager Eric Jorgensen and design manager Orr Shtuhl, both of Wirecutter, will lead an interactive discussion on how to apply the concept of openness to an onboarding deck for your direct reports, whether you’re in tech, design, or news.
For the immigrants: There are tons of us, but probably not enough under one roof to form a functional community. So let’s get together and chat about how we can keep our heads above water while traversing a unique set of problems: from taking additional care to understand and report on issues that we probably haven’t grown up around, to working extra hard to find and land a job that sponsors a visa, and to dealing with entirely new identities. For the allies: We know you care, we know you want to be supportive, but may not always know how. Join us so you can understand and support us in our struggles that we do not often feel like talking about. In this two-part session, we will discuss how to navigate the (perhaps steep) learning curve of surviving and thriving in a culture that may be utterly unfamiliar, and then collectively devise and document strategies to better support immigrant journalists.
Data journalism education has problems – too few places teach it, too few faculty have the skills, and there’s precious little consensus about what students need. Tools? Thinking? Case studies? Story assignments? Simultaneously, academic publishing is beyond broken: too slow to keep up, too expensive for students to afford. So we’re on a mission: Make the mother of all modern data journalism textbooks. And, at the same time, publish it so it can get to the most students, with the most up-to-date materials, without academic publishing price barriers. But how? We need your help. What do we include? How do we get it to people? We have ideas, we want to hear yours. Let’s make a table of contents together!
We’ve all heard the folk wisdom that “people hate change”, but, well… do we? We’re all successfully navigating change every day, yet the narrative that people are generally stubborn or unable to adapt persists.
Using a series of conversational exercises, we’ll explore cultural and personal attitudes around handling change. What are the stories we believe about our own resilience, and where did they come from? How do our views affect how we plan projects and trainings for our teams? What might change in our design and planning approaches as we shift our understanding of people’s capacity for integration of new information? How can we help our colleagues and friends build resilience and trust in their own capabilities?
Teaching data journalism in newsrooms and at universities has forced us to come up with creative techniques. We wrote The SQL Song to help one group of boot camp attendees understand the order of commands. In an attempt to help students fine-tune their programs, we did a game show called Query Cash. To make string functions make more sense, we’ve created silly, but useful performances. To make this session interactive, we propose inviting attendees to bring their ideas. We also will pose some problems and have teams work out creative solutions.
Proposed by Jennifer Brandel and Andrew Haeg
How might newsrooms create an ethical framework around their engagement work, similar to a code of conduct for staff relationships?
“Engagement” is becoming more central to newsroom revenue models, and with it comes a lot of thorny issues that start with the question: “why exactly are you trying to engage the public?” If the answer doesn’t include “to learn and in-turn create more useful content for the public” than it’s worth interrogating the purpose of that work and the forces at play calling for something else.
This session will be an in depth discussion around the issues surrounding engagement work, and we’ll emerge with a shareable framework for newsrooms to use when orienting toward non-extractive models.
Proposed by Candice D Fortman
Can we create more educated news consumers one class room at a time? We will discuss an experiment directly out of our newsroom. We are creating lesson plans to accompany an upcoming podcast series on education. Each episode has a lesson plan aimed at middle and HS students.
The Theory: The lesson plans give journalist/news organizations an opportunity to explain our work and also help students and parents understand how journalism works. This could also help extend the life of our content and expand our audience. Let’s work together to expand this concept, consider the tech and think of how this could work on in newsroom and schools across the country.
Proposed by Brian Hamman
Every job opening for a newsroom developer job (of which there are few) gets dozens of resumes. Job postings for the CMS get fewer, but still some. But nobody wants to come to a media organization to work on the payment processing system or ad tech.
And that’s a problem!
We need more of the passionate, mission-driven people who attend SRCCON to contribute to the financial engine of journalism. Let’s get together and talk about what life outside of the newsroom can look like and see if we can come up with ways to convince more people (maybe even ourselves!) to join the business side.
Let’s be clear: a lot of experimentation is happening in newsrooms right now. But let’s also be honest: it’s predominantly being done in a messy, ad-hoc way and we’re too quick to move on. As more teams are given the freedom to experiment, the need for a practical model to do it with empathy, intention and a willingness to learn is ever greater.
Over two years in the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab we developed a sustainable process for running experiments by trying methods out until they (mostly) worked for us. In this session, we’ll talk about the essential building blocks of our process, take it for a test run, and invite others to share methods they’ve used in their newsrooms.
The Mobile Lab’s methodology on its surface is pretty simple:
- draw a line between an idea and an actual hypothesis
- define success metrics based on all aspects of a user’s experience
- implement precise analytics
- survey your audience about how things went
- have a “burndown” meeting with the entire team to discuss results and insights
The hard part, we admit, is putting this all together and not losing steam.
Feel free to bring a news experiment idea you want to put through the paces, or we’ll have a few on file to suggest (Obituaries newsletter, anyone?!)
Proposed by Wael Eskandar
Technologies have different meanings as they cross borders, the same sites are appropriated by their users in different ways to address local context or local problems. This session will attempt to examine the different ways in which technology is experienced in non-western countries who do not have the ability to shape platforms but only to consume.
Proposed by Darryl Holliday and Andrea Hart
Public meetings are important spaces for democracy where any resident can participate in civic life and hold public figures accountable. But how does the public know when meetings are happening? It isn’t easy! These events are spread across dozens of websites, rarely in useful data formats.
That’s why we’re working with a team of civic coders to develop and coordinate the #CityScrapers, a community open source project designed to standardize, scrape and share these meetings in a central database, in collaboration with City Bureau’s Documenters program.
Are you working on issues related to governmental transparency, civic tech and journalism? Join us for a hands on session, stay for lessons on creating a more perfect democracy.
Proposed by Olivier De Meulder
I swarm for a living. Recently, our team started working together, or swarming, for our entire sprints and only taking on a small number of stories at a time. Swarming is not a new concept; Many agile teams often swarm on a story to finish it before moving on to a new story. We took the definition of swarming and made it or own: We don’t just swarm to finish what has already been started, we swarm as soon as we start something new. And we’ve become more productive and collaborative as a result.
Proposed by Sam Petulla
I’ve been working with Gelman’s Stan group at Columbia University, on ways to visualize Bayesian models. I’d like to talk about this and other projects I’m working on to think through the ways visualizations can be used to present conclusions or hypotheses made from a dataset.
From the simplest poll chart to a movie sales graph to an original simulation that fills in gaps of missing data, when we display a visualization, we are creating for our audience a canvas from which to make inferences. Visualization as a journalistic practice then isn’t just about making a finding pop but weighing all the considerations of our analysis or model, including the survey or research design, when choosing a visual form.
I think we all know this, intuitively, but I think we need to be more specific about some of the considerations for presenting data trends, hypotheses, and regression models. Increasingly, we see “data points heading in one direction” in a two-axis scatter plot as a kind of journalism. But when is it valid?
For this talk, I want to talk about what basic assumptions and considerations journalists should make when using simple regressions and what kinds of red flags statisticians look for in bad model selection or diagnosis. Correlation is not, of course, causation, but a dataset that moves linearly in one direction will be interpreted as demonstrating causation to many readers simply because a trend is there.
There are many other considerations journalists should be making as well: Residuals analysis and heteroskedasticity, p-hacking and overfitting, margin of error and confidence, and overloaded multiple regression models. I’d like to explain how a journalist should be thinking about these questions as opposed to a social scientist or researcher.
In conclusion, I’d like to reframe questions statisticians usually ask in the context of hypothesis testing, prediction or inference as also another context a set of journalistic questions. When we miss collinearity, we’re missing a part of the story that still needs reporting. When we overfit the data, we’re sensationalizing a trend. When we p-hack or shove too many variables into a multiple regression, we’re relying on an unreliable source. When we place our dataset in a scatter plot, if it is shaped in certain ways, it tell us about underlying issues with our data, and we should learn to spot some of those issues, so we can report it out further and decide how to best present it to our audiences.
Those are some things I’m thinking about all the time. I’d like to put them together into a talk that tries to translate some of the best ideas in statistics (I’ll work with statisticians to get it right) into journalistic practices anyone can follow.
I’d also like to find other people in the media who are either building models or thinking a lot about representing findings in data and how audiences make inferences from them that may or may not represent an underlying truth.
Proposed by Gabriel Hongsdusit
Comics are an engaging way to present reporting in a visual format. In addition to being more eye-catching than a traditional text story, they can also simplify complex ideas and be adapted to several other mediums, like print, advertisements, etc. This session is a workshop on making a comic based on a narrative. Participants can bring examples of text stories from their newsrooms and see how it can be adapted to a comic or how a comic could be supplementary content to that story. Together we will explore how to break down a narrative into different panels and optimal ways to convey information through the combination of illustration and text.
Proposed by Jeff Hargarten
Are you a digital native working in news? Are you a reporter looking to get into coding? Are you already a successful synthesis of the two? In this session we discuss the challenges and barriers that might prevent someone from becoming one of the rare hybrids who mixes traditional reporting with coding and digital development, or the difficulties presented to someone already working in that space.
Whether it’s organizational culture, technological challenges, education, lack of time, resources or opportunity or whatever else is standing in your way, we openly share our experiences from both sides of the tracks.
Swimming against the stream: Are Spotify, Netflix and Amazon setting the standard for the future of news?
Proposed by Cherie Hu
Major media organizations are seeing newfound growth in online subscriptions: The Washington Post’s digital subscriber base more than tripled year-over-year in 2017, while The New York Times’ digital-only subscription revenue increased by 46 percent over the same time period to $340 million. Yet, there are much larger, arguably more scalable media subscription businesses looming overhead: Spotify made $4.6 billion from Premium subscriptions alone in 2017, while Netflix made $11.7 billion and Amazon’s numerous subscription verticals raked in $3.2 billion in the same time period.
One can make a rigorous case that online news sites are now competing directly with these gargantuan media brands for share of users’ time, energy and money. But should music and video streaming services really be the new benchmark for all of media?
Through a series of interactive activities, we’ll dive into what journalists could learn from the Spotify/Netflix/Amazon model about building experiences that foster both participation and loyalty with readers and subscribers—and where that model might fall short for news. We invite participants to bring their own examples of this strategic cross-pollination from their own organizations, which we’ll workshop in small groups with visual, design-oriented exercises (read: many Post-it notes!).
On a higher level, our goal is take a serious, hands-on look at what the phrase “media convergence” really means and whether it’s a truly viable future for the news business, with streaming as our lens.
Proposed by Tiff Fehr
NYT’s Interactive News team has been working (damned) hard on its hiring practices, including acrobatics like double-blind initial screenings, panel-wide unbiased* assessments of manually anonymized resumes and rigorous, team-consensus evaluation rubric spreadsheets. It’s ridiculously time-intensive for a few people on the team, but 1,000% worth it.
Like-minded news nerds like Brittany Mayes (NPR) and Sisi Wei (ProPublica) have spoken eloquently about their efforts for internships and fellowships. SRCCON audiences have been appreciative and very attentive, which means there’s more to pursue on the topic. Few teams can spare the time, but we have a window available now for getting well ahead of any given news org’s “rebooted” corporate recruiting and hiring efforts. News nerd teams can cut the trail by adopting hiring practices that truly put our shared ideals front and center, as a demonstration for newsroom and technology groups.
NYT’s Interactive News will soon have four full-time hires worth of investment in refining our revamped hiring practices, which have moved us from unambitious box-ticking to some ridiculously hard debates about terrifyingly talented finalists. Simultaneously, we are actively building a strong recruiting operation for future open positions. (And my in-house “expertise” — aka, firm opinions and elaborate spreadsheets — have resulted in me being part of initiatives to shift the NYT’s Technology hiring, too.) There’s a lot to share in that…with co-presenters I think.
Proposed by Ted Han
So, your code broke the internet, but nobody’s noticed yet. Not long ago the NPRViz team got a report from one of their users about a pretty serious security flaw in Pym.js, and so suddenly found themselves with the challenge of figuring out how to notify Pym users they needed to upgrade immediately without just blasting out to the world that it was possible to steal their users session data & cookies. I (and others) ended up helping them walk through the security disclosure process, helped draft messages intended to encourage users to upgrade, and poked people in the community. There are individual things that folks who produce software for others can do to make this process easier for themselves & users, but also there are things that we should be doing as users to make sure we’re prepared to upgrade when flaws are announced, and also, how to lend a hand when things are going wrong. Lets talk about what more we can and should be doing.
Proposed by Amelia McNamara
If you are a news nerd, you probably know how to make data graphics in just a few lines of code, whether in d3, R, or python. But computer tools can restrict your creativity by making you think inside the box, both figuratively and literally.
In this session, we’ll bust out the markers, paper, stickers, string, balloons, and other fun stuff. We’ll practice iterating on ideas, freed from the computer. Inspired by the work of Mona Chalabi (who uses hand-drawn visualizations to make her work more accessible), Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi (who embarked on a year-long personal data collection postcard project which became the book Dear Data), and Jose Duarte (of Handmade Visuals), we will play with color, shape, size, and texture.
I’ll provide some supplies, but you’re welcome to bring your own! Do you have a pack of Prismacolor markers burning a hole in your pocket? A washi tape collection that never sees the light of day? We can visualize data with that!
Are you trying to break down legacy thinking and processes in your organization? Pushing for more diverse and inclusive hiring practices? Rethinking how we engage with communities that need trustworthy news? Producing interactive stories in formats your editor couldn’t even envision a year ago? You’re a change agent, and so are we. So let’s get together and chat.
With the journalism industry in a state of constant flux these days, there are many of us working to improve processes within our newsrooms, foster collaboration between departments, engage new audiences and find revenue solutions that will actually work. This session will provide an opportunity for those of us pushing for change inside and outside of the newsroom to come together to discuss what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what challenges we continue to face.
We want people to be excited about making change within their organizations, whether it’s a small workflow change or a big cultural change.
Proposed by Soo Oh and Martin Stabe
A “words” journalist can spend their entire career as a reporter, starting with daily general assignment reporting and moving to beat reporting, international reporting, or investigative reporting. Along the way, they increase their visibility, credibility, and earnings. What could that look like for the journalism-tech community? For example, a “news nerd” version of a traditional foreign correspondent could uncover datasets abroad, figure out ways to engage the local community, or deploy hardware sensors to track environmental conditions.
We’ll first talk about all the different kinds of skills we bring to newsrooms. Then we’ll spend some time interviewing each other before we create out-of-the-box job descriptions we can get excited about.
Proposed by Thomas Wilburn
As digital journalists, we often push the platform forward, with cool new interactives and high-impact layouts. Unfortunately, accessibility is often ignored in the process. It’s easy to make excuses: we’re on deadline, or visual content wouldn’t work in a screen reader anyway. But what if it’s far easier than you think? In this session, we’ll set up accessibility tools, share lessons we’ve learned about creating inclusive pages, and assemble a list of easy wins that you can take back to your newsrooms and digital teams.
Proposed by Lindsey Cook
The key to creating a culture of learning is radical empathy, yet that’s not always easy. For one, the people likely doing tech-type training at your organization may be highly skilled themselves, and at a technical level that others may not think they can reach or may not want to reach. How do you avoid that? How do you help reporters build out the time in their schedules for learning and convince them that this is part of their daily jobs? How do you make sure that learning reaches beginners and experts equally and that you’re meeting people where they are? NYT has been grappling with these questions. We’d love to talk about what other organizations have done to encourage learning, how everyone can participate and what strategies are effective. We’ll gather in small groups to brainstorm around specific problems and come away with solutions for every sized newsroom.
Proposed by Heather Bryant
With all of the technologies, platforms and third-party services associated with a newsroom’s digital footprint, we expose our audiences to data collection, tracking and other side effects of their interaction with our news and how we distribute it. In this session we’ll talk about what our obligations are to ensure audiences are adequately informed and what tools and resources we might be able to build to help newsrooms quickly create a digital disclosure for audiences.
Proposed by Kaeti Hinck and Millie Tran
Where do people find time to nurture long-term goals? How do we get past treading water at work and move toward what we want next? And how do we even figure out what that is when we’re overwhelmed and overworked? In this session, building on what we explored at SRCCON:WORK, we’ll dig into how to create space for longer term goals, and brainstorm specific ways to balance the short and long term in our daily lives.