Photo: Erik Westra

SRCCON 2019 • July 11 & 12 in MPLS Sponsor SRCCON

Sessions at SRCCON 2018

The following sessions have been confirmed for this year’s SRCCON program. Thank you to all who submitted proposals, and to the community panel that helped us during the review process. Read more about how sessions work at SRCCON.

We still have a few session topics to confirm, and some descriptions here may evolve. This year’s final schedule will reflect any updates and include an evening program of fun, informal talks, discussions, and activities.

Approaching Collaboration: Lessons Learned from Building a Data Collaborative

Facilitated by Jenny Choi & Rajiv Sinclair

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.

Archiving News Websites for the Long Long Term

Facilitated by Albert Sun & Kathleen Hansen

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 come together and create a plan for pitching the value of preserving digital news to others at our organizations, creating best practices for doing it, and helping identify champions and partners inside and outside the news organization to help make the case for archiving.

Are you running an experiment, or are you just winging it?

Facilitated by Sarah D Schmalbach & Sasha Koren

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?!)

Building a community guide for immigrant journalists: How to survive and support

Facilitated by Disha Raychaudhuri & Jun-Kai Teoh

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.

Building Resilience: Moving Beyond a Fear-Based Model of Change

Facilitated by Marie Connelly & Eileen Webb

We’ve all heard the folk wisdom that “people hate change”, but, well… do we? We’re all successfully navigating change every day, but 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?

Democracy, Documenters and the City Scrapers Project

Facilitated by Darryl Holliday

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.

Don’t Panic: the guide to working without an editor, even if you have one sitting right next to you

Facilitated by Lo Benichou & Casey Miller

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.

Doing more data with less programming

Facilitated by Simon Willison & 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. We’ll be looking at two free, open-source tools in-depth:

Workbench ( is a platform that combines data tools and training for journalists. It is designed to help you stay focused on your story without needing resources from technical teams. Workbench makes it easy to scrape, clean and manipulate data in a repeatable and transparent way – without coding.

Datasette ( is a tool for publishing structured data to the web in a way that makes it easy for your audience to search and explore. Datasette also provides a JSON+SQL API that allows developers to quickly build apps and visualizations on top of that data.

This will 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.

Getting sh*t done without authority

Facilitated by Alyssa Zeisler & Ariel Zambelich

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.

Help drag FOIA (kicking and screaming) into the digital era

Facilitated by Michael Morisy & Evan Wyloge

Love transparency, but want to do more than than Instagram your most ridiculous redactions? Come talk about the ways emerging technologies intersect with local and federal practices around public records law, and brainstorm the tools we need to make public records work for today’s journalists, researchers, and the general public. How should public officials be handling requests for Facebook, WhatsApp, or Signal messages, and how can we work to make sure that happens? What strategies are effective for getting the databases we need to do our reporting?

We’ll share what has worked and possible best practices that will push governments toward greater transparency. We’ll also take a look at data from MuckRock and FOIA Machine, which have collectively helped file over 50,000 requests across over 10,000 agencies, and we’d like to hear your ideas on how this data can help all requesters file better requests. We also explore 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.

How to make a big transition and maintain your cool

Facilitated by Darla Cameron & Katie Park & Alyson Hurt

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 taking leave, how can you make that transition successful?

We’ll discuss strategies for dealing with change. The first step: Planning a graceful exit. That means writing an effective passoff document to let others know where you left off with important projects and who to ask for key information.

Then, we’ll move on to the return to work or first days at a new gig. What’s the best goal to set in your first day, week and month? What’s the ideal way to introduce (or re-introduce) yourself to your manager and best enable them to help you meet your career goals? How do you get yourself up to speed?

Whether you’re leaving a team or welcoming a new colleague, what can we all do to make these transitions go more smoothly? Let’s find ways set ourselves up for transition success — and better support each other.

How to give great feedback and look good doing it

Facilitated by Kennedy Elliott & Emily Yount Swelgin

Good, healthy critique is crucial to visual storytelling, data visualization and design. But bad design has become a punchline and Twitter amplifies the performance of calling out flaws, corrections and grievances. When we fail to take care in our criticism, we look brash or dismissive, contribute negatively to our community and possibly even discourage others from participating. Above all, we miss an opportunity to give our peers and colleagues valuable, constructive feedback.

How can we be kinder and more effective in our public critiques? How can we structure meetings and discussion to encourage productive critique? How can we ask better questions and feel more confident giving feedback?

Together, we’ll learn how to facilitate, give and receive better critique, both in public forums and among our own teams.

I’m a stranger here myself: Building a newsroom roadmap for young journalists of color and their allies

Facilitated by Audrey Carlsen & Helga Salinas

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.

Kickoff Kit: helping new teams move faster by aligning early

Facilitated by Rosy Catanach & Sara Bremen Rabstenek

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.

Leading News Orgs to Water by Hacking Our Hiring

Facilitated by Tiff Fehr & Ryann Grochowski Jones

News nerd teams within various orgs have been working really hard on developing newer hiring practices, including acrobatics like double-blind initial screenings, unbiased assessments of resumes, standardized interview processes, and rigorous, team-consensus evaluations. It’s ridiculously time-intensive but 1,000% worth it – these efforts have resulted in diverse, talented finalist pools. We have a window available now for getting 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. Like-minded news nerds like Brittany Mayes and Sisi Wei have spoken eloquently about their efforts for internships and fellowships. SRCCON audiences have been appreciative and very attentive, which means there’s more to uncover on the topic. There’s a lot to share, so come join us and take home some low-frills ideas about how to push your hiring efforts forward.

Leave the coasts.

Facilitated 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.

Leave the newsroom!

Facilitated by Brian Hamman & Aminata Dia

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 build the data journalism textbook we need, and break academic publishing while we're at it.

Facilitated by Matt Waite & Sarah Cohen

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!

Let's Make State Legislative Information Useful

Facilitated by James Turk & Miles Watkins

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.

Lights, Camera, Algorithms: Acting out (and then discussing) Machine Learning

Facilitated by Rachel Shorey & Jeremy B. F. Merrill

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.

Managing the blind spots in community news coverage

Facilitated 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.

More security trainers, please!

Facilitated by Amanda Hickman & Kevin O'Gorman

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. ( 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!

More than two sides to the coin

Facilitated by Kristyn Wellesley & Candice D 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.

Navigating technical communication with journalists

Facilitated by Lauren Flannery & Karen Hao

You’re in a technical role in a newsroom and you find yourself in one of two positions: The Asker, where you gather project pieces from different contributors to create a product; or the Person Being Asked, where you must parse people’s technical needs into a tangible plan of action. Getting what you need is an art for any developer who also wears a project management hat. But how to ask? Or how to dig in to find out where a question is stemming from? What’s the best way to communicate with people eager to help, but who may not understand the technical challenges? Many of the technical problems developers experience can be fixed with clear communication among mixed teams where everyone’s expertise is validated, so we’ll be sharing tips, common pitfalls and experiences on how to manage a project from vision to reality. This session will be part open round table discussion, and part small groups and games.

New phone, who dis: Building intimate audience relationships without the creep factor.

Facilitated by Sam Ward & 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.

Off the shelf and into the open: forging academia-journalism partnerships to bring findings out of journals and original research into reporting

Facilitated by Laura Laderman & Sinduja Rangarajan

The traditional academic-journalist relationship goes like this: a journalist would talk to an academic as a source and expert for a story. An academic would reach out to the media with findings published in a new paper. But are there ways to forge deeper relationships and bring researchers into the reporting process? Is there a way for journalists to shape research questions to quantify anecdotes they encounter in their reporting? What do journalists bring to the table for academics and vice versa?

Through discussion and activities we’ll envision new relationships between research teams, journalists, and the public. We’ll all 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. We’re a journalist who’s been partnering with academics to produce stories and a researcher whose work has been reported on with varying degrees of collaboration. Whether you’re an academic or a journalist or both or neither, come join us to think outside of the box about how these partnerships can enrich journalism and increase access to information.

Preparing for security vulnerabilities if you're an open source maintainer *or* user

Facilitated by Ted Han & Mike Tigas

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.

Radical listening - How do you design a media membership program focused on participation

Facilitated by Anika Gupta & Andrew McGill

‘Membership’ and ‘reader revenue’ have become media buzzwords. But how do you build and measure the success of your own membership program? What tools do you use to listen to readers, and what data do you track to make decisions about product offerings? Anika Gupta and Andrew McGill are senior product managers at the Atlantic, where they work on the organization’s Masthead membership program. Anika’s also a former researcher with the Membership Puzzle Project in New York. They’ll review the Atlantic’s approach to building their membership program, as well as MPP’s research on best practices and ‘thick’ versus ‘thin’ models of participation. The session will start with some user research exercises, discuss MPP’s theory and the Atlantic’s implementation, then break into small teams for workshops and brainstorming exercises focused on designing the right membership program and offerings for your organization.

Rebuilding Ad Tech: Open Source, Server to Server, Publisher First

Facilitated by Aram Zucker-Scharff & Amanda Hicks

Are you tired of wrestling with endless JavaScript ‘pixels’ and awful ad services? With the attention on Facebook and the advent of European GDPR regulations, the digital ads marketplace sits on a knife’s edge. For the first time in nearly a decade the user-data-driven targeted-programmatic ad space is in real danger. But also open to real change. Now is the moment for intelligent publishers to put a hand back on the wheel and reassert their ethical imperative in the next generation of ad tech.

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.

Regression in the newsroom: When to use it and thinking about best practices

Facilitated by Sam Petulla & Hannah Fresques

Increasingly, journalists don’t just visualize data in raw form but build simple regression models that draw trendlines through a set of data points, telling the reader where the story runs through the dataset. In more advanced forms, reporters fill in gaps of missing data with an original simulation or draw connections between data points with a model.

When journalists lean on statisticians’ tools, we take on the same responsibilities for accuracy and fairness even as the methods we use change. Statistical techniques can falsely frame or overstate the importance of a trend or relationship between data points when used carelessly.

Let’s talk about what basic assumptions and considerations journalists should make when using statistical methods, and what kinds of red flags statisticians look for in bad model selection or diagnosis. How should a journalist should be thinking about these questions as opposed to a social scientist or researcher? What are some basic techniques all journalists should know when running data through a regression model? Let’s also introduce some more advanced techniques that can teach us to see our data in new ways and open future discussions.

Reimagining news nerd career paths via job listings

Facilitated by Soo Oh & 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.

Restoring our reader’s privacy in a time of none

Facilitated by Michael Donohoe & Matt Dennewitz

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.

We are all responsible for the state of internet privacy. Whether you are adding “that one line of JavaScript” as requested by the marketing team, or the Instagram embed in your article. We are allowing our readers (which includes us too) to be tracked across the internet in ways we don’t know about or very often can’t explain.

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.

Shedding light on the command line

Facilitated by Alan Palazzolo & Gabriel Hongsdusit

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.

Sick [journalist] theory: real talk about navigating disability in the newsroom

Facilitated by Jasmine Mithani & Hannah Birch

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 tackling 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.

Sure, You're Making Tools. But Do People Use Them?

Facilitated by Becky Bowers & Tyler Chance

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.

Talk Less. Listen More. How Listening Can Help Journalists Begin to Repair Relationships with Marginalized or Ignored Communities

Facilitated by Amy L. Kovac-Ashley & David Plazas

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.

The Balancing Act of Becoming a New Manager

Facilitated by Yue Qiu & Ryan Murphy

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.

The Interview: Building a practice of listening and asking questions in our work

Facilitated 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.

The Newsroom Collaborative Manifesto

Facilitated by Alexandra Kanik & 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?

The Shape of Stories: Unleash Your :60 Storyteller

Facilitated by Jarrad Henderson

Do you get exhausted trying to keep up with trend-driven pace of innovation? 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!

Time to grow: How to dig deep and stretch yourself in the midst of day-to-day survival

Facilitated by Kaeti Hinck & 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.

Toward an ethical framework for engagement

Facilitated by Jennifer Brandel & 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.

Unionize! Part two!

Facilitated by Moiz Syed & 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.

Visualization as a Civil Right

Facilitated by Thomas Wilburn & Joanna Kao

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.

Visualizing data by hand

Facilitated by Amelia McNamara & Hilary Fung

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!

Voice interfaces and their impact on journalism

Facilitated by Yuri Victor & 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 sketching a voice interface for news.

Vulnerability as a News Strategy

Facilitated by Andre Natta & Heather Bryant

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.

We Went to Therapy So You Don’t Have To

Facilitated by Rachel Alexander & Steven Rich

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.

Whine & Shine: A support group for nerds, journalists, and those who bridge the gap

Facilitated by Hannah Wise & Hannah Sung

Ever wish you had a roadmap for how to bridge all the different ways we work in a modern newsroom? There are data journalists, developers, traditional beat reporters…and what does a producer do, anyway? This session is for all of you. Everyone will leave with their own personal roadmap, a one-sheet list that will come out of collaborative brainstorming. The point is to better understand ourselves, where we are situated and how to communicate in order to collaborate once we are back in our own newsrooms. Come and build your own map by joining us.

As we are all experiencing with the 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.

The aim is to leave this workshop with a better handle on how you can work better and more collaboratively upon your return to work.

Who Needs A Front End? – How To Leave The UX of Newsroom Tools to Slack

Facilitated 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.

Without Free or Favor: Compelling readers to pay for news (tote bags not included)

Facilitated by Sara Konrad Baranowski & Matt Raw

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.

Community reviewers

We’d also like to thank the folks who helped us select this amazing slate of sessions! We reached out to community members with a range of experiences and perspectives to make sure that SRCCON would have sessions that responded to your needs.

Thank you, community reviewers!