Sessions at SRCCON

Our peer-led sessions combine skillsharing, discussion, and collaboration.

The following sessions have been confirmed for SRCCON 2017. Huge thanks to all who submitted proposals, and to the community panel that helped us during the review process.

Some session descriptions here may evolve between now and SRCCON. This year’s final schedule will reflect any updates and include an evening slate of fun, informal talks, discussions, and activities. The complete 2017 SRCCON schedule is available here.

Aim to Misbehave: Privileges & Allies in the Media Creation : A Lab/Remix

Facilitated by Gabriela Rodriguez Beron & Sydette Harry

Journalism is a powerful tool. A place to show different views of the world as well and an opportunity to do active solidarity and combat historical bias . Based on the Ada Initiative Ally Skills workshop by Valerie Aurora, this lab puts ally skills to work on journalistic product. How can we take our professional skills as journalists, editors, data scientists, programmers et al , and really commit to changing the way we cover issues and produce product?

Keeping our desire to fight inequality at the fore how would those skills change the reporting on the contentious issues of right now and confront systemic oppression with journalistic excellence.

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

Facilitated by Hannah Birch

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

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

Facilitated by Jacob Harris & Rebecca Williams

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

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

Facilitated by Parker Higgins

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

Business Models: What We All Can Do About Them

Facilitated by Brian Boyer

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

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

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

Candyland, Catan and Codenames — Oh My! Navigate Roadblocks in Small Newsrooms With Games

Facilitated by Sara Konrad Baranowski & Andrea Suozzo

Imagine a job where you could spend all your time pursuing new, creative projects, and get your whole office on board for every big, exciting idea you come up with.

That’s probably not your job (If it is, we envy you!). When you have an idea, you have to convince other people to embrace it. Maybe you’re trying to get buy-in on a new digital project, but your newsroom is focused on the reporting-writing-editing process. Maybe you’re trying to convince others to embrace a big idea that’s going to require lots of resources and time. Or maybe you see a way to overhaul a longstanding process to make your organization function better. In this session, we’ll create games to help us figure out ways to face the challenges of navigating digital initiatives in a small news organization.

Bring a work challenge you’ve been grappling with — or just bring yourself and your creativity!

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

Facilitated by Emily Goligoski & Joe Germuska

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

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

Facilitated by Dave Stanton & Ernie Hsiung

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

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

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

Facilitated by Jennifer Stark

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

Data: They walk among us!

Facilitated by Ashley Wu & Priya Krishnakumar

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

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

Drawn Together: Doodling Our Way Toward Stronger Collaboration

Facilitated by Becky Bowers & Darla Cameron & Tiff Fehr

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

Every Day I'm Hustling: Building and managing a career outside of your day job

Facilitated by Elite Truong & Pam Assogba

When we meet someone new at conferences like this one, we usually ask “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?” as in, where do you work? Our work can become a huge part of our identities, especially as passionate, smart people with ambition who look to find purpose in their work. That’s a really tall order as we advance in our careers and struggle to find meaning in our work with one job.

During this session, we’ll discuss the things we want to do and impact with our work; the big stuff that we want to accomplish in our careers; the projects we want to run, not backlog. How do we start building those opportunities outside of our jobs to grow our careers? How can we create side projects at work and become an “intrapreneur” so you have institutional resources? What should we look for in full time work that is compatible with your career, and how do you navigate that line?

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

Facilitated by Andrew Nguyen & Julia Wolfe & Danielle Webb

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

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

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

Exploring the Radio Spectrum for News

Facilitated by Jon Keegan

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

Finding a better way to test skills while hiring

Facilitated by Rachel Schallom

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

Greasing the wheels of inter-newsroom collaboration

Facilitated by Ken Schwencke & Alan Palazzolo & Andre Natta

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

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

Facilitated by Pietro Passarelli & David Eads

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Vanessa Martinez & Chris Canipe & Soo Oh

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

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

Facilitated by Helga Salinas & Mike Grant

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

How do we change our minds anyway?

Facilitated by Marie Connelly & B Cordelia Yu

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

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

How do we protect our users privacy?

Facilitated by Ian Carrico & Lo Benichou

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

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

How Do You Stack Your Tech Deck?

Facilitated by Matt Johnson & Elliot Bentley

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

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

Facilitated by Sandhya Kambhampati

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

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

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

Facilitated by Katerina Iliakopoulou

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

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

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

Facilitated by Steph Yiu

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn to Draw, Boost Your Brain Power!

Facilitated by Leah Kohlenberg

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

Let's be better security trainers together

Facilitated by Amanda Hickman

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

Let's Talk About Death 

Facilitated by Adam Schweigert & Ted Han

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

Let's Talk About Engagement and Revenue

Facilitated by Andrew Losowsky & Mary Brown

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

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

Facilitated by Sonja Marziano & Jordan Wirfs-Brock

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

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

Live Coverage Forms For (and From) the Immediate Future

Facilitated by Tiff Fehr & Alastair Coote

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

Local data journalism still matters (and we can make it better!)

Facilitated by Carla Astudillo & Erin Petenko & Stephen Stirling

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

Making climate change personal

Facilitated by Simon Jockers & Cathy Deng

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

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


Managing people, managing yourself

Facilitated by Kaeti Hinck

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

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

Facilitated by Erica Greene & Jessica Kosturko

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

My Life In the Bush of Platforms

Facilitated by Matt Dennewitz & Michael Donohoe & Luigi Ray-Montanez

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

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

new sNerdFluxkit (2017): inspiration and provocations for people who make interactives

Facilitated by Scott Blumenthal & Britt Binler

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

Fluxus artists were playful revolutionaries who tried to undermine the authority of the museum and the primacy of the artist. One strategy they deployed was demanding that the viewer complete (and thereby co-create) certain pieces of art.

To many of us news nerds, “interactive” has become a noun. But how interactive is your interactive, really? When’s the last time you stopped to consider just how revolutionary an idea it is to include your reader in the completion (or co-creation) of your work as a journalist?

In this session, we’ll forget about our newsrooms, tools, and data sets for a while and think about the essence of interaction. What inspires us as individuals to reach out and try to affect the world? As part of a group? By what means can we do so? How might find we are changed in turn? What invites us and what repels us? Where do exploration and interaction diverge?

Then we’ll zoom back in and ask: how can we orchestrate meaningful interactive experiences through our work? I’ll suggest some inspiration from the art world: happenings, instruction pieces, escape rooms, live action installations; please bring some inspirations of your own.

Alone and in teams, we will hammer out manifestos and instruction pieces for building digital interactives, then swap them with each other. Take your instructions home. Follow them. After SRCCON, we’ll publish the raw materials and the the interactives together as new sNerdFluxkit (2017).

News for everyone: Thinking about accessibility

Facilitated by Joanna S. Kao

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

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

News products: How to design, launch, and iterate something worth paying for

Facilitated by Matt Kiser & Kelsey Scherer

What can newsrooms learn from the process of launching a product? In this session we’ll use a WTF Just Happened Today as a case study to illustrate an example of launching an MVP product, validating product decisions, and iterating on a product. We’ll define a set of constraints through a group brainstorming session to identify a set of problems to be solved. From there, we’ll do a design brainstorm to think through products that can solve those problems, and create a hypothetical new news product worth paying for.

Overcoming crippling personality traits to survive in a newsroom

Facilitated by Yoohyun Jung & Emma Carew Grovum

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

Practical approaches for creating software to cover democracy

Facilitated by Aaron Williams & Steven Rich

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

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

Facilitated by Julia B. Chan & Madeline Welsh

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Martin McClellan & Ben Tesch

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

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

Why us?

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

Should Our Engineers Donate to Campaigns?

Facilitated by Brian Hamman & Carrie Brown

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

Switching CMSes

Facilitated by Liam Andrew & Pattie Reaves

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Lisa Waananen Jones & Amy Kovac-Ashley

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

The Future Of News That Wasn't

Facilitated by Joel Eastwood & Erik Hinton

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

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

Facilitated by Chris Keller & Sara Simon

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

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

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

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

Threat Modeling, But For Your Own Well-Being

Facilitated by Mago Torres & Sisi Wei

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

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

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

Facilitated by Nicole Zhu

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

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

Facilitated by Moiz Syed & Akil Harris

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

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

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

Facilitated by Dolly Li

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

Why you are part of the filter bubble problem and what you can do about it

Facilitated by Sonya Song

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

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

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

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

Facilitated by Seth Vincent

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

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

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

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!