Photo: Erik Westra

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

SRCCON 2019 Sessions

The program at SRCCON is built around hands-on, participatory sessions, and also makes space for emergent conversations, evening activities, and time to talk with the people you meet. Our conference schedule for 2019 is built from the sessions listed here.

We have a few sessions and facilitators still to confirm, and some descriptions here may evolve between now and SRCCON. Thank you to everyone who submitted proposals, and to the community panel that helped us during the review process!

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

Facilitated by Katie Park & Alex Tatusian

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Ashley Alvarado & Megan Garvey

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

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

Assembling the Scramble Suit

Facilitated by Thomas Wilburn & Kelly Chen

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

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

Facilitated by Emma Carew Grovum & Dave Stanton

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

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

Facilitated by André Natta

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

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

Facilitated by Sydette Harry & B Cordelia Yu

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

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

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

Facilitated by David Yee

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

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

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

Building newsroom capacity by tapping into expertise outside the newsroom

Facilitated by Madeleine Bair & Cirien Saadeh

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

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

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

Facilitated by Hannah Wise & Emma Carew Grovum

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

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

Changing journalism's awards culture

Facilitated by Stephen Stirling

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

Creative ways to teach complex issues

Facilitated by Jennifer LaFleur

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.

Designing the next phase for newsroom technologists

Facilitated by Tyler Fisher & Brittany Mayes

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

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

For journalism to succeed in the next decade:

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

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

Document this conference! An introduction to Library.

Facilitated by Isaac White & Maxine Whitely & Umi Syam

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Matt Kiefer & Asraa Mustufa

[cue Star Wars scroll …]

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

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

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

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

Engineering Beyond Blame

Facilitated by Joe Hart & Vinessa Wan

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

Fade In: What Data Journalism Can Learn from Screenwriting

Facilitated by Phi Do

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Ariel Zirulnick & Bridget Thoreson

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

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

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

Game of Newsletters: A song of inboxes and subject lines

Facilitated by Emily Roseman & Joseph Lichterman

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Kaeti Hinck & Stacy-Marie Ishmael

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

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

How are we in community together?

Facilitated by Erika Owens & Brittany Campese

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

How can newsrooms be more active catalysts for change?

Facilitated by Cole Goins & Kayla Christopherson

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

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

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

How to edit data as seriously as we edit words

Facilitated by Hannah Recht & Kate Rabinowitz

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

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

How to lead without power

Facilitated by Steven Rich & Shannan Bowen

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

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

Facilitated by Jessica Morrison & Amanda Yarnell

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

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

If I knew then what I know now

Facilitated by Erin Petenko & Yan Wu

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

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

Facilitated by Carl Johnson

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

Let's build some ethical advertising

Facilitated by Ian Carrico

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

Making The Case For Remote Work

Facilitated by Adam Schweigert & Alison Jones

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

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

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

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

Meeting management challenges in local newsrooms

Facilitated by Erin Mansfield

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

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

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

Facilitated by Candice Fortman & Simon Galperin

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

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

Murder Mystery: Collaborative Journalism Edition

Facilitated by Laura Laderman & Maya Miller

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

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

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

CMS Demos: Approaches to Helping Our Newsrooms Do Their Best Work

Facilitated by Albert Sun

Most newsrooms need their CMS to do the same basic things, but there are so many ways to do it. Let’s see what it looks like to publish a news story in a lineup of different CMSes. To show how different newsrooms accomplish the same tasks, a lineup of people involved in developing CMSes will follow the same demo script showing how to write, edit and publish a news story, rank it on a homepage and promote it to an audience. Each presenter will also talk about their favorite feature of their CMS and how to get journalists excited about their CMS.

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

Facilitated by Alexandra Kanik & Natasha Vicens

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

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

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

Facilitated by Lewis Raven Wallace

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

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

Facilitated by Vignesh Ramachandran & Hannah Birch

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Christopher Hagan & Jesikah Maria Ross

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

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

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

State of Newsroom Diversity Reports

Facilitated by Moiz Syed & Disha Raychaudhuri

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

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

Staying with the trouble: Doing good work in terrible times

Facilitated by Mandy Brown

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

Structured communication: Tools you can use to change culture and help your team feel heard

Facilitated by Anika Anand & Eimi Okuno

There’s a joke we often hear journalists make: Our job is to clearly communicate information to our audience, and yet we’re terrible at communicating with each other in our newsrooms. That’s partly because we don’t use the right tools or frameworks to facilitate clear and consistent communication that leads to cultural change. In this session, we’ll hear what kinds of communication and culture problems you’ve identified in your newsrooms, dig into tools– like OKRs, team health checks and user manuals– that can provide a shared vocabulary in and across teams, and help you and your colleagues feel more heard and satisfied in your newsrooms, whether it’s a large organization like the BBC (where Eimi works!) or a startup like WhereBy.Us (where Anika works!).

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

Facilitated by Kristyn Wellesley

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

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

Facilitated by Katherine McMahan

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

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

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

The Geeks Won: Now What?

Facilitated by Jeremy Bowers & Becca Aaronson

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

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

Things the future taught us

Facilitated by Brian Boyer & Jayme Fraser

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

We should rethink the way we think about percentages

Facilitated by Ryan Menezes & Amelia McNamara

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

What happens to journalism, when AI eats the world?

Facilitated by Sarah Schmalbach & Ajay Chainani

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

Why it matters — Designing stories for impact

Facilitated by Anjanette Delgado & Jun-Kai Teoh

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

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!