Themes you can build your SRCCON 2019 experience around
by Ryan Pitts
There are a few things we can count on at every SRCCON: People who just met for the first time, working together with purpose. Leftover post-it notes hinting at amazing conversations from the session before. Phones and laptops that never seem to turn on, as people stay in the moment together.
Another part of the core SRCCON experience is watching priorities come into focus. Our community’s values are consistent—we learn as peers, we push for change, our foundation is inclusion and equity—and seeing the ways attendees express them and what gets foregrounded from year to year is one of the most exciting things about building the SRCCON program.
The process gives us a chance to listen, and here’s what we’re hearing in 2019:
We need more useful tools in the hands of local journalists. The pace of experimentation in journalism is exciting—and intimidating. We’ll share newsroom-tested methods across disciplines like engineering, engagement, and hiring, and build a support network that helps us feel confident implementing them back home. The SRCCON schedule is bursting with things to try, so this year we’re excited to add something brand new: a science fair that lets people browse a bunch of different projects and go in-depth with the ones they need most.
We’re building a future for journalism and what it looks like to lead it together, so how do we do it right? News nerds collaborate across teams, departments, even organizations, and that puts us in a unique position to change how journalism works. Together we’ll map out what to do with that power, and how we get there as a community. And we’ll work from a shared understanding of what “doing it right” means, with a sense of responsibility to each other and to ensuring that work is led by journalists of color and local communities most affected by what we cover.
How do we ensure our relationships with communities are healthy and ethical? This is a movement in journalism, and SRCCON 2019 gets to build on research into sharing power, guidelines on engaging with an audience, and projects emerging from events like People Powered Publishing. We’ll be talking about strategies for doing journalism with communities who rely on our work.
We’re living in 2019, as journalists and as people. The census and elections are coming, and we need to decide now how to provide true public service in 2020. We also need to be honest with ourselves about what it means to do this work in hard times, and find ways to support and sustain one another through 2020 and beyond.
Learning from each other is an art, and this community is good at it. Participatory sessions are effective when peers open up their process to each other in descriptive, not prescriptive ways. Throughout SRCCON we’ll take techniques that are already working somewhere and imagine how to apply them more widely. We’ll trade teaching strategies too—and as a companion to sessions, this year we’re excited to launch a toolkit developed by Emma Carew Grovum for taking what you learn in Minneapolis home to your newsroom.
A program with room to make connections
Sessions will tell you all about the priorities at many conferences, but the SRCCON program isn’t just what’s on the daily schedule. It’s the conversations over lunch, it’s the time we spend together Thursday evening, it’s the spaces in between things where new relationships and collaborations are born.
We know SRCCON is a place that people rely on to connect with their communities, or to find them for the first time. That’s why we keep so much open space throughout the day, and why this year we’re making room on the Thursday evening program for meetups for journalists of color and local coders, welcoming moments of incidental networking over games and hobby chats, and space to make plans for what we want to do starting July 13.
I’ve been finding it impossible to not get excited every time another piece fits into place for this year’s program. The SRCCON 2019 schedule comes out this week, and there’s one more thing you can count on: We’re going to do amazing things together.
If a program that digs into these themes sounds like something you want to be a part of, consider joining us on July 11 & 12 in Minneapolis.