August 15-16, Minneapolis, MN

Our Program

The following sessions have been confirmed so far for SRCCON 2024. Thank you to everyone who submitted proposals! We still have a handful of sessions left to finalize, and descriptions here will evolve in the weeks leading up to the event.

We’ll publish the complete schedule with session dates and times soon.

If you’re figuring out travel plans: SRCCON 2024 will begin around 9am on Thursday, August 15, and close by 6pm Friday, August 16. Most participants arrive Wednesday afternoon and head home Saturday morning.


Thank you to the community panel that helped us during our review process! Our conference schedule this year will include the sessions below.

Beyond survival: Conceptions of brave journalism from a place of abundance in an industry of scarcity

Facilitated by Camille Fassett, Elizabeth Kim

Engage in a conversation about what it would look like to do brave and bold journalism from a place of abundance. In industries with an abundance of capital of all kinds, these resources and investments often drive experimentation, competition, and rapid growth and exchange of ideas. In this session, we will talk about whether that kind of abundance context has ever been true for journalism. We’ll open up a conversation about what the most significant constraints are on our ability to innovate, experiment, and dream in the newsroom, whether it’s a lack of financial resources and economic stability, editorial support, or emotional capacity, health, and support in other parts of life.

Secondly, we’ll discuss what possibilities would open up if any of these variables were changed. What stories would we pursue? What newsroom structures or models of journalism would we want to try? Finally, we’ll close out the conversation with a discussion about how we can pull ourselves towards the journalism industry we want to see. We may not be able to personally change the structural external realities of the challenges of the journalism industry, but we can approach our work from a mindset of abundance, openness and curiosity.

Beyond the letter to the editor: Engaging and equipping community in your newsgathering process

Facilitated by India Daniels, Grace Del Vecchio, Natalie Frazier

Since 2017, City Bureau has trained and paid hundreds of inquisitive Chicagoans to document local government meetings and explore other civic issues. It has also partnered with organizations to bring the Chicago Documenters model to 18 (and counting) communities across the country.

In this session, Chicago Documenters staff will share what we’ve learned from equipping non-journalists with journalism skills as the program has evolved from an open-ended experiment to a civic institution with stakeholders. By developing fact-checking, editing, surveying and other pathways for Chicago Documenters — most of whom are not journalists — we’re turning the challenge of scaling up capacity into new opportunities for program participants to lead.

Attendees will brainstorm how their newsrooms can take an asset-minded approach and right-size generative systems that add capacity, grow their audience and meaningfully engage community wisdom.

Brain drought to brainstorm: How to call forth the idea tempest

Facilitated by Julia Wolfe, Joel Eastwood

Journalists who need to fill notebooks with pitches, editors desperate to replace awkward silences with excited proposals, and anyone staring at a blank page: let’s discuss how to conjure good ideas you can actually execute.

We’ll start by sharing some of our favorite tricks for drumming up a storm. Then, we’ll work as a group: What makes inspiration strike? How do you cull the bad ideas from the good?

Bring your umbrella and rainboots!

Bridging barriers: How newsrooms and fundraising teams can collaborate to fund impactful journalism

Facilitated by Joseph Lichterman

Philanthropic interest in journalism is at an all-time high as new funders enter the space and more than $500 million in funding has been committed to local journalism through Press Forward. But in many news organizations there is a disconnect — and even distrust — between fundraising and newsroom staffs over fears of funder influence, concerns about editorial independence, and more.

However, it doesn’t need to be that way. In news organizations around the United States, fundraisers and journalists/technologists are collaborating and building a culture of philanthropy that supports their shared mission of great journalism. This session will offer case studies of how news organizations have built successful fundraising cultures, and participants will go through role-playing and idea-mapping exercises to identify how they can build a culture that bridges revenue/newsroom divides and leave with concrete steps they can take to change the culture of their organization. The principles in this session will be relevant to news organizations of all sizes and of all tax statuses.

Build a better responsive journalism platform and meet more community needs

Facilitated by Sarah Alvarez, Rajiv Sinclair, Sukari Stone, Kate Abbey-Lambertz

Outlier Media and Public Data Works have (finally) developed a system that can help newsrooms share valuable, actionable, and personalized info directly with large audiences without overwhelming newsroom staff. We’ll take you though the system, explain how it works, and share tips for leveling up how you can fill information, accountability, and connection gaps even without this kind of tool.

Building a culture of experimentation

Facilitated by Abby Blachman

In a shifting media landscape where reader habits are changing, attention is fragmented, and platforms are untrustworthy, we’re looking for ways that we, as newsrooms — not the platforms or funders — can drive some of the rapid change around here. One way to lead change is through experimentation.

At The 19th, we’ve been experimenting with ways to build a safe, insightful, actionable experimentation culture across our organization. In this session, Abby Blachman, product engineer and current Sulzberger fellow, will share what we’re learning about the top-down and bottom-up experimentation frameworks we’ve been testing alongside the cultural and technical challenges we’re facing in our organization. Then we’ll open up a discussion about how we all might build up a culture of experimentation together.

We’ve found that across many news organizations, including our own, experimentation can feel like a lofty and vague concept. It’s often left to product teams or data scientists. Experimentation can be defined in many different ways without a shared understanding of how it might strengthen a strategy. We aim to show it doesn’t have to be that way.

Building a practice of UX and accessibility in your organization

Facilitated by Tyler Machado

I’d like to make space for sharing successes/frustrations in advocating for accessibility and UX in our organizations, and then chart out some ways forward.

Questions include: How can we be continuously learning, and putting into practice, accessibility improvements? How do we respond to common obstacles to better UX, be they technological constraints or business needs? What can we do to assemble teams of a11y allies and learn together?

Care and community: Peer-support networks in the face of journalism’s occupational hazards

Facilitated by Jeje Mohamed, Amanda Wells

Journalism organizations and the wider journalism industry need to do more to protect and support media professionals facing a wide range of occupational hazards inherent to the profession, including online abuse, secondary trauma, and physical risk. Through our recent report, The Power of Peer Support, we heard again and again that journalists prefer to seek support from other journalists who understand the unique stressors of the profession, but do not have the resources to do so.

An important, promising solution we found in our research was small-group peer support, a model which creates spaces for journalists to receive support from peers who share their identity and/or lived experience, have their experiences seen and heard, and share coping mechanisms and support. We would be eager to hold space to exchange ideas and experiences with other conference participants on how to encourage and pilot small-group peer support.

Civic media and Latinx audiences: How to reach Latinxs and meet their civic media information needs

Facilitated by Vanessa Maria Graber, Claudia Yaujar Amaro

The Latinx community is growing as an influential and underserved demographic in the U.S., especially in swing states and areas with significant Latinx population growth. However, this community is not often engaged with accessible news and information, nor is civic media content created for them despite their need for accurate information about elections, government policies, and public resources. In this workshop, participants will learn about the results from a National Poll by Free Press, which identifies trends in how Latinxs access news and information, their top issue areas, and how disinformation impacts them. The facilitators will share their experience building bilingual news and public affairs programming and the lessons learned doing grassroots voter outreach in Latinx communities. This session serves as a pivotal platform for discussing strategies to authentically represent the Latino experience in media, fostering a more inclusive narrative that resonates with the richness and complexity of this vibrant community within the United States.

Community does not scale: News, tech & profit

Facilitated by Damon Kiesow, Dana Amihere

Social is dead. Search is flatlining. News organizations that relied on unearned audience windfalls to drive programmatic advertising revenues are in similar straits. It is time for local news organizations to return to their roots: serving local readers and local advertisers and giving up on the dreams of limitless scale and geographic reach which is the pipedream of Silicon Valley and the bête noire of local sustainability.

The tension between scale-based business models and the locally focused need for quality community information raises a question, 20 years into the experiment: Is Digital Built for News? We will discuss some of the key metrics and trends that point to “No” and identify the paths already being forged that use the tools of Big Tech to create not extract value from local readers.

Creating ART from the CHART: A discussion on story visuals

Facilitated by Jasmine Mithani, Emily Scherer

Visuals are often the first thing someone sees for a story: Feature illustrations, social share images, front-page photographs. Art directors and photo editors constantly have to translate abstract concepts into concrete visuals that can draw audience attention. Data stories can be difficult to create images for, especially if they have a strong visual component already.

In this session facilitated by an art director and a visual journalist who used to work together, we will discuss how we approach creating visuals for data stories. What visual motifs do we rely on to communicate data? What work should we expect feature art to do for a story? How do we communicate live updating data in a static image? How do you navigate the cross-department dynamics of art and graphics? How does art change depending on the platform it’s shared on?

Creating more spaces for disabled folks in the industry

Facilitated by Steven Rich

There are a lot of people with disabilities in this industry. Some are visible and many are not, but no less onerous. Aside from the visibility of disabilities, many disabled journalists feel invisible, both inside the newsroom and in the world. And I don’t think disabled potential journalists look at the industry and see a welcoming space.

So let’s change that. This session will discuss the common obstacles for folks in the journalism industry and those who would like to be. It will discuss obstacles and methods to overcome them. But most importantly, it will feature conversation on how the industry can make disabled people feel included and seen, beyond the basic legal requirements so many outlets feel is the only hurdle they need to clear.

Early career panel: Where do we go from here?

Facilitated by Madison Karas, Rahul Mukherjee

These days, early career ladders at the intersection of journalism and technology are often a constant mix of creating your job descriptions and being the first one at your organization with your job title or implementing your technology, and usually not knowing what work you’ll be in 6-12 months from now. At this session, we’re giving the mic to a panel of early-career journalists and technologists to reflect on pivotal moments of building their careers so far and where they see the industry and their roles in it going. (Think: kind of like an exit interview but for those who just started, mixed with Nieman Lab-style predictions coming from younger voices.)

Our panel will focus on three questions: What’s worked so far? What hasn’t worked? Where do you see things going? And will be a blend of pre-defined and open-forum questions. We invite other early-career attendees, and especially those in mid- to late-career, to come listen and ask questions. We hope this panel surfaces tension points those beginning their careers are experiencing and how those later in their careers or managers can support them, as well as prompts more places for early-career input on discussing innovation in the industry.

Empowering journalists with AI: Overcoming fear through experimentation and transparency

Facilitated by Chloe Lee Rowlands

In the rapidly evolving landscape of journalism, technology — AI in particular — poses both a challenge and an opportunity. Many journalists experience hesitation and fear around using unfamiliar technology, worried about the high stakes of misinformation and the perceived need for expertise. However, the reality is that AI technology is already interwoven into our daily lives in many subtle ways, from predictive text to content recommendation systems. This session will explore how newsrooms can foster an environment of experimentation and openness around AI use, by creating an experimental “sandbox” of content within their publication wherein journalists can play, test, and explore AI tools without risking the integrity of their work, and publish the results of those experiments alongside honest reflections of their experience using AI. By approaching AI with this kind of radical transparency, journalists can demystify AI, encourage its ethical use, and foster a culture of trust and openness with readers.

Attendees will learn about the way that has employed this approach, and engage in a conversation about the tangible benefits of incorporating AI tools into journalism, the risks of doing so, and how embracing total transparency with readers can help to tackle both the positives and the negatives of this technology. This session will highlight the importance of journalists not only exploring AI uses in their own work, but critically assessing these tools to ensure ethical and responsible use and sharing that honest analysis with readers so that they may gain a better understanding of the applications and limitations of AI. This approach has the potential to build trust with audiences in an era of skepticism towards the media and to empower journalists of all technological backgrounds to embrace these powerful tools.

By sharing insights, experiences, and the impact of this initiative, the session aims to inspire other newsrooms to adopt similar strategies of experimentation, reflection, and transparency. This is not just about leveraging technology but about fostering a culture where journalists feel equipped and confident to navigate the complexities of digital innovation, ensuring the integrity and credibility of their work in the digital age.

Ethnographic Journalism to solve your reporting challenges: Why you’re already doing it, and how to do more of it.

Facilitated by Emily Kennedy, Adam Gamwell

The challenges facing individual journalists are mounting. Anthropology’s ethnographic methods can help journalists unearth stories that matter to communities and bring a different dimension to the way we practice journalism.

Ethnography is the study of culture. “Ethno” from Greek meaning culture, and “graphy” meaning writing. Ethnography offers a set of tools and applied approaches that align with the reporter’s modern pursuits of respectful and impactful reporting.

In this practical, hands-on workshop, participants will work with Emily Kennedy, founder of, and Adam Gamwell, PhD, anthropologist, editor of Anthropology News, and host of the This Anthro Life podcast, to explore how to apply ethnographic methods to specific journalism challenges such as gaining and maintaining trust of the public, community reporting, and finding sources.

Proposed Agenda: 5 minutes: Introductions 15 minutes: Overview of the history of ethnographic journalism, ethnographic methods, and how they can help journalists. 10 minutes: Demonstrate ethnographic reporting method for finding new stories (what it is, how it works, and outcomes) 10 minutes: Demonstrate ethnographic reporting method for finding sources (what it is, how it works, and outcomes) 25 minutes: Workshop breakout: Participants (as individuals or groups) practice applying ethnographic methods to their reporting project, while groups (or individuals) come to discuss/receive feedback with Emily & Adam (one group at a time, 5 mins each group). 10 minutes: Reflection and closing

Everything I know about burnout I learned from the This is Fine meme

Facilitated by Tony Elkins, Andrew Finlayson

Journalism is not fine, I have the receipts to prove it. Unlike the traditional comment box, the Burnout Box collects people’s thoughts, fears, concerns and worries. We might not be able to solve them, but by acknowledging them we can begin to address our concerns and create a better culture for those around and those we lead. We would also like to present the research of the Reynolds Journalism Institute on burnout in journalism that was designed to find solutions to this problem that can be used at the local level by news leaders without necessarily breaking the bank.

Five years of running a news org on the JAMStack

Facilitated by Carlana Johnson

I have been the main or only programmer at Spotlight PA since its founding five years ago. At that time, I held a session at SRCCON 2019 called “Let’s JAMstack! Data-Driven Static Sites”. In the years since that session, I’ve been running on the JAMStack and taken it from a simple brochure site to a news hub for Pennsylvania. In this session, I will look back at the technical decisions that led Spotlight PA to where it is today and talk about lessons learned: what I would do again, successes, regrets, and ongoing technical debts.

Help Wanted: Developing support systems for local data journalism

Facilitated by Pam Dempsey, Joe Germuska, Cheryl Phillips

Data journalism is a critical component of investigative and accountability journalism, but many newsrooms, especially smaller ones, face challenges in developing their capacity. Big Local News at Stanford and the Data-Driven Reporting Project at Northwestern have both been working on developing that capacity for a few years. While we’ve had successes, we’ve also started to develop some theories about what changes could really amplify the work. In this session, the presenters will share their current thinking and ask participants to collectively help develop the theories further. We hope to end the session with actionable, fundable ideas which the facilitators or other organizations might work on putting into practice to better serve the development of data-driven journalism, especially in smaller newsrooms.

How a newsroom and product team built a killer planning tool, and you can too

Facilitated by Julie Westfall, T.J. Furman

Most news orgs have struggled with planning, especially cross-functional planning, since time immemorial. Varying publication cycles, cultures of secrecy and traditional firewalls that separate story creation from sales and marketing functions have contributed to the challenge. The product and newsroom teams at The Philadelphia Inquirer are among the news orgs who have successfully built planning tools that address those challenges, and are changing their news orgs for the better.

We will demonstrate how to overcome psychological barriers by appealing to newsroom user desires, how to use automation to change behavior and how to bring sales and marketing partners into the loop. Then we’ll dive into tactics and systems that have worked at a variety of news orgs so that participants can leave with real ideas to try at their own orgs.

How to ditch the horse-race for public-centered and solutions-focused political coverage: A crash course

Facilitated by Linda Shaw

It’s one thing to want to ditch the horse-race approach to political coverage. It’s another to figure out what to do instead. In this session, we’ll provide a few successful examples that newsrooms are pursuing, and walk you through some simple steps that will help you get started — for the upcoming election, and into the future.

How to use quick and scrappy user research in your newsroom

Facilitated by Audrey Valbuena, Shikha Subramaniam

User research looks at putting audience needs first and forming the solution second. In newsrooms, we see this as a way to help bring greater content-audience fit to our most ambitious stories, to tell them in more poignant, empathetic, and responsible ways. In this session, we’ll run through some low-effort, high-impact user research methods that you can use in the story development process to make sure your work has the greatest impact with its intended audience.

Whether a reporter, editor, designer, or audience strategist, this session can bring new ideas to how your approach the day-to-day of your job with an audience-first approach. We’ll cover basic research methods like observational study, A/B testing, prototyping, and usability tests, as well as when to use these methods throughout the story development process — all the way from pitch formation to pre-publish refinement. We’ll come with examples of how these methods have shaped our own work at The Post, and would love to workshop through how you can walk out of this session and into your newsroom implementing some user research tools.

If journalism has utility, why can't we measure it? Exploring creative approaches to impact assessment

Facilitated by Simone Cunha

We’ll explore the challenges and opportunities in measuring the impact of journalism. This session aims to foster an open discussion among participants about different methodologies, strategies, and experiences in measuring the results and impacts of journalism projects across various newsrooms and initiatives. Through interactive exercises and group discussions, we’ll delve into the complexities of evaluating the societal and community impact of journalism work, sharing insights, and learning from each other’s successes and failures. We will start with an interactive movement exercise that illustrates the interconnections between different actions, laying the groundwork for discussions on impact measurement. From there we will start our exchange and systematization of paths.

Journalists want the audience’s attention: What if they don’t want to give it to us?

Facilitated by Judith Langowski, Lindsay Deutsch

Our work in newsrooms, especially in audience teams, hinges on getting attention. We want the audience to read, watch, listen to great stories, breaking news, year-long visual investigations and local reports. We post on social networks (less effectively these days), launch new newsletters, push out breaking news alerts and try to get directly to the audience through SMS and WhatsApp. Strategy is decided based on which stories get the most eyeballs, which alerts convert into subscriptions or which newsletters have a growing subscriber list.

But we often land in overflowing inboxes and overstimulated phone screens at the risk of overwhelming the reader and losing their trust. And with an uptick in privacy protections and diminishing third-party data, standard metrics are losing value.

How can we actually reach the intended and interested audience that wants to give us attention? What are our habits in consuming news and how do those differ from people working outside of the media? How can we encourage meaningful media consumption rather than news avoidance?

In this session, we want to discuss how newsrooms can build meaningful audience strategy in an overloaded attention economy. We don’t have the answer to that — no one in media has truly found the balance. We want to work toward a collective understanding on tactics and strategies for how we can all be more deliberate about finding the most essential place in users’ lives.

Less with more: How quality, not quantity, will ensure the sustainability of local news

Facilitated by Chase Davis

In our industry, and local news in particular, we are entering a post-traffic era. To succeed, we need to lean into quality, authenticity, and human-ness — even at the expense of scale, which still dominates the conversation at too many news companies.

Doing that means changing the way we run our businesses. It means building metrics that incentivize depth and engagement over volume. It means putting an end to traffic and production targets in favor of more nuanced strategies that emphasize delivering value to readers in meaningful ways.

If you’re a news company, and you see generative AI as a ticket to cranking out commodity articles at scale in order to game social, SEO, or whatever, you’re doing it wrong. Quality is our moat. Here at the Star Tribune, we have a well-refined idea of how editorial values and business imperatives should align in a post-traffic era. Other organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — do as well. But we’re still in the minority.

We’d like to use this panel to introduce a conversation about this, taking the best of what we’ve seen across the industry and providing attendees a new perspective to bring back to their organizations — some of which might still be stuck in a world that prioritizes traffic and scale.

Making open source more open

Facilitated by Katlyn Alo, Dylan Freedman

The open-source community is a beautiful and robust resource, but so much useful open-source software is not being used in spaces where it’s needed because “open” doesn’t mean “accessible” — it means the software is 99% of the way to being useful for people who need it! Often times, actually deploying and hosting these products requires bandwidth, technical savvy, and money local newsrooms don’t have to spare. We can’t solve those resource shortages in a session, but we can learn what it means to run software “locally.” Let’s tackle our fear of the command line, develop a little bit of software documentation literacy, and run an app on our computers!

By the end of the session, we will have shared a resource that takes folks through the tedious steps (creating a Github account and authenticating), and some of the places to get help when you run into obstacles like nasty Python environment bugs (Stack Overflow, News Nerdery, etc.). That resource will also list some useful open-source projects folks can try running locally (we would love to add to the resource in the session!). We might not be able to get everyone up and running by the end of our time, but we will get some folks through it and, perhaps more importantly, show our debugging process. Our aim is to empower folks to use the software they need and know where to seek help!

Media products for a morally injured nation

Facilitated by Rachel Kincaid

Moral injury is emerging as a defining psychological experience of our time: witnessing something terrible, even from a distance, and suffering from the feelings of complicity and helplessness that follow. In terms of news media, this may look like readers reporting that following the news is “too depressing,” manifest in “news avoidance,” or readers using news as a launchpad for inflammatory discourse.

When we talk about how to respond to this reader experience, we often think about content — how we can temper “bad news” with “good news.” Solutions journalism, service journalism, and possibility-model journalism have demonstrated a lot of potential in this regard — but we know that content is inextricable from form.

We’ll learn about these topics together, and then work in small groups to think and experiment toward the following questions: How do our user interactions with digital media products — endless scrolling, popups, paywalls — interact with the affective experiences of reading the content? What product features might reify feelings of moral injury and powerlessness, and what product features might ameliorate them? What would it look like for a news product to be designed to engender agency and accountability?

Playing in immersive

Facilitated by Robert Hernandez

A hands-on session exploring tools and techniques to produce immersive, non-fiction stories. AR, VR, WTFR… let’s play and explore to shape the evolving drafts of storytelling.

Quickly building and deploying reporter-friendly database apps with Svelte and Airtable

Facilitated by Emory Parker

Airtable provides a turnkey relational database disguised as a spreadsheet, which makes it an ideal interface for reporters who are used to managing data in Excel or Google Sheets. It also provides a robust API that can be used to power data apps and visuals. Participants will be shown real-life examples of how STAT uses AirTable and Svelte to rapidly build and deploy various tracker apps.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: The art of live election results infrastructure

Facilitated by Dana Cassidy, Claire Helms, Jaya Subrahmanyan

As engineers on the live election results team at The Washington Post, we eat, sleep and breathe elections — even during off cycles. To tackle hundreds of races, from local to national, we must strategize about how our systems can work smarter, not harder, by reducing election waste, reusing features as much as possible and recycling ideas. This session aims to help folks understand the importance of sustainable, quality-driven architecture for a notably busy year in the industry. We will cover concepts like unit testing, reusable components, detailed documentation, and working with stakeholders. Participants will then be encouraged to think through a project, feature, tool, or process that they could “reduce, reuse and recycle” in their workflow in an elections-specific context.

Responsibility and repair: What happens after the harm?

Facilitated by Cordelia Yu, Amanda Costello

Building equitable teams and organizations is a practice, one in which everyone will make mistakes. Inevitably, those mistakes will hurt someone — so what do you do when someone on your team has caused harm to a coworker from a marginalized community? The first step is to take care of those who’ve been harmed, but what’s the second?

In this session we want to explore questions around what it means to help someone take responsibility and repair the harm they’ve caused. How can we as managers and peers help someone make things right and learn from their mistakes?

We don’t have all the answers, but we know that the tools most of us have are inadequate. So this session will be a facilitated conversation on how we can create spaces where people can step up to take responsibility, repair, and learn from our mistakes when we’ve hurt others.

Self-hosted maps: An ecological approach

Facilitated by Chris Amico

Self-hosting interactive maps is now possible, even for small newsrooms, but it requires developers to understand how the stack fits together and what problem each piece solves. This approach starts from the premise that solutions aren’t stable and will help participants approach an evolving landscape in a way that welcomes novelty.

SRCCONify your retreat: Create a convening your team will love

Facilitated by Hannah Wise, Kari Cobham

Times are tough in journalism these days, and it is more critical than ever to take care of our people. A staff retreat is an opportunity to gather and to show that care, and to build alignment and cohesion. We’re not talking painful role plays or not-so-relevant sessions that run way too long. In this session, we’ll explore how staff retreats can be a wonderful opportunity to build stronger teams and how to use the principles SRCCON itself uses to create powerful and inclusive events.

Come prepared to discuss your team’s unique challenges and needs, how whole team gatherings might meet them, and how the elements that make SRCCON such a force for positive change might work for you.

Staying, Illustrated: An art project about journalism

Facilitated by Elizabeth Thompson, Sarah Vassello

According to our Stayers and Leavers report (to be published in summer 2024), when asked about their favorite parts of working in local journalism, stayers and leavers both talked about telling stories, interacting with their community and learning new things.

We want to ask journalists to imagine their community, in an ideal world, and draw how they envision themselves in that community. What is it about the stories you hear that fuels you? How do you show up in your communities? Conversely, how would you navigate your community differently if you were no longer a journalist?

In this session, we’ll cover top-level findings from the Stayers and Leavers report, and create a shared sense of why this work is important to us as individuals. We’ll also talk about the things in your job that keep you from showing up the way you envision.

At the end of the session, participants will leave with a doc with key themes discussed. With attendee permission, we would also like to publish these illustrations on our website.

The Decisive Moment: Navigating the intersections of AI and visual journalism

Facilitated by Tara Pixley, Jovelle Tamayo

This strategy session explores how the advancement of generative AI technology affects how photojournalists work and how audiences consume visual journalism. Critics of gen-AI primarily focus on how the increased ease of photo manipulation, deep fakes, AI-generated image creation, and deliberate visual disinformation might impact the field of professional photojournalism. We intend to discuss this, while also considering how we can train gen-AI to produce more accurate representations of our world, particularly images of marginalized populations and people of color. Is anti-racist AI possible and, if so, how do we build it together? What can journalists learn from the process of reframing our shared visual imaginary? Is there a future where news visuals and AI-generated images are more compatible? What might that look like?

We also hope to consider the impacts of AI-generated imagery on the labor of visual artists like photojournalists, documentary filmmakers, and editorial illustrators. How can publications protect media producers and their visual content? Throughout our discussion, we’ll work together to compile a set of considerations and guiding questions for journalists, image-makers, and newsroom decision-makers trying to understand the impact of AI-generated visuals.

Trauma-informed leadership for news leaders: A practice-makes-progress workshop

Facilitated by Sam Ragland

Post-pandemic news organizations require us to re-order our skillset — to put the “hard skills” last and the “soft” skills first. In this workshop, we’ll check the editing, producing and managing at the door, and instead invite caring, coaching, and connecting to the table.

At its core, trauma-informed leadership is about respecting the things that happen to us and in us, then responding accordingly. I want to workshop the soft skill of leadership because, let’s be honest, it’s really hard. I also believe the soft skills of news organizations will retain the most critical perspectives and pivotal voices — those from journalists of color and women.

Using community listening sessions to report and design your story

Facilitated by Phi Do, Ada Tseng, Helen Li

The L.A. Times has conducted listening sessions to report on all sorts of stories, from breaking into Hollywood careers to talking about mental health in Mandarin Chinese. These off-the-record conversations in a small-group setting allow us to create a space for community members to candidly share their experiences, especially when discussing a sensitive topic. Participants actively help us shape the direction and sometimes even the design presentation of the final story in a way that becomes a helpful evergreen resource for that community. The Hollywood careers series is being collected into a book that will be published by the L.A. Times and Simon & Schuster, and the Mandarin mental health guide is being expanded into other languages, including a Vietnamese version that will be published before SRCCON.

During this session, we’ll work together to build a shared resource on how to incorporate listening sessions into your reporting. We’ll talk about the lessons we learned, brainstorm story topics and areas where listening sessions could be useful (and when they aren’t), explore best practices for recruiting participants, identify tools to help you moderate sessions and discuss any challenges that may arise when setting one up. We hope attendees will walk away with a toolkit and ideas to incorporate listening sessions in their work.

We are all designers if we listen to ourselves

Facilitated by Tom Nehil

In 1979’s “The Timeless Way of Building,” Christopher Alexander makes the case that ordinary people can design — and for centuries, have designed — buildings, landscapes, and towns without special training or the help of architects or elaborate plans. Instead, they rely on a “pattern language” — discrete repeated elements of design that in turn reflect repeated patterns of human behavior. For example, to build a traditional stone house in southern Italy, a person might make use of the following patterns: “Square main room, about 3 meters; two step main entrance; small rooms off the main room; arch between rooms; etc.” Just as verbal language allows speakers to combine words to create infinite novel sentences, a pattern language allows for the construction of an infinite variety of buildings that are nonetheless instantly recognizable and usable and that, in Alexander’s words, “feel alive.” Crucially, using a pattern language doesn’t require special training or knowledge; it is something that we call carry inside, even if we rarely acknowledge it explicitly.

In this session, we will work in small groups to begin to discover a pattern language for visual journalism by analyzing the common, repeated elements across a range of examples of work and the patterns of use they reflect, and by looking into our own practices to find the patterns we continually reach for because we know them to be true. The hope is that, whether you consider yourself a designer or not, learning to recognize and describe these patterns will help you to build projects that respond to users needs and, ideally, also “feel alive.”

What did we do with all that OpenAI money and who is it helping

Facilitated by Dorrine Mendoza, Trei Brundrett

AJP embarked on this journey with more questions than answers. Could small news organizations deploy AI to increase revenue? Would communities trust the organizations who deployed AI chat bots or other public-facing AI technologies? How hard would it really be to deploy new AI products in newsrooms without product resources?

The grantees and staff will answer these and other questions, including the most important: How are we different now than we were a year ago, and is the local news field better off?

When AI Goes Wrong: How to handle it and what to do

Facilitated by Ryan Restivo, Nikita Roy

As we push the boundaries of what’s possible with AI in the newsroom, the path is marked by experimentation, innovation, and the inevitable setback. This workshop acknowledges the reality of AI development: failures are not just possible, they are a valuable part of the learning process. Through a series of discussion prompts and case studies we will delve into the complexities of AI missteps. Our goal is to equip participants with the knowledge that they can lead their initiatives with confidence and strategic thought even when they do not go as planned.

Community reviewers

We’d also like to thank the folks who helped us select this amazing slate of sessions! Each year’s program review includes a panel of community members with a range of experiences and perspectives to make sure SRCCON has sessions that respond to your needs.

Thank you, community reviewers!