How we can give to each other as a community at SRCCON 2023

An overhead view in McNamara Alumni Center shows tables full of SRCCON participants.

Yep we're back, back again (for SRCCON in Minneapolis)! (photo/Erik Westra)

It’s a little hard to process how excited we are to be back in Minneapolis next week for SRCCON 2023, and almost as hard to believe that 2023 is the 10th year of SRCCON. As much as things around us have changed since that first conference in Philly in 2014, our core principles remain the same: We get to learn a ton from each other, we get to know each other better, and we get to imagine a better future for journalism because, for a couple days, we get to spend time right there together in it.

We’ve always talked about SRCCON as a beginning of our work as a community, not a culmination. What we imagine there becomes real as new tools and ideas come home with us, and we build relationships that transform us for years to come. It’s a place where we can really give to each other—one of many! Because even after SRCCON, we get to keep sharing knowledge in places like Source, support in journalism Slacks and spaces for conversation like the DEI Coalition, and financially through a sustainer program that helps make all these collective actions possible.

Here’s more about what’s going into our time together in Minneapolis, and how this community is already giving to each other at SRCCON 2023.

Creating space for connection: This is what SRCCON is all about, from the interactive program to the spacious breaks in our schedule with spacious breaks to the evening spaces to keep hanging out together. Everything about this event is set up to make it easy for people to strengthen relationships and build new ones, and to enjoy time with people who care about each other. That’s our core organizing value.

There’s so much to talk about this year, too. The notes we see in SRCCON attendee forms fill us with hope: People are excited to hear where we turn to for support and how to build it into our teams, how to make room for messy experimentation and even failure, and how we can keep dreaming big for journalism. And one thing we know without a doubt: People are looking forward to simply being together again.

Taking care of each other: This is also built into everything we do. SRCCON has always had a code of conduct with a care plan behind it—we invite you to bring your full self into this conference, and we want you to feel able to do it. We also provide meals and snacks (so many snacks!) and plenty of delicious beverages, because we want to free up your brain to focus on the ideas and people at SRCCON.

Sometimes care takes different forms depending on our needs from year to year. We’ve noticed that large gatherings in 2023 are often followed up by a wave of COVID reports. We want SRCCON to be as safe as we can make it, so we’ll be masking inside our venue this year. We think it’s a simple thing we can do to protect each other, and we’ll have plenty of masks handy when you arrive. (Or bring your own if you have one you like!)

A program built by the community, to meet community needs: Your proposals created an incredible program with about 40 sessions this year—a mix of workshops to help us use tech better and reimagine the culture of journalism. AI has been a big topic of discussion this year, and SRCCON will take on how this community is thinking about it, and how to keep our ethics and values centered as we use it. We’ll be talking about burnout, career paths, using data for justice, infrastructure for our teams and so much more.

Our sessions represent a wide range of news organizations, roles, and perspectives, too: Two-thirds of our facilitators are women, more than 40% are people of color, and about half of our facilitators will be leading a session at SRCCON for the first time.

Social sessions to bring us together as people who do this work: Our evening program is another way SRCCON is about connections that last far beyond the conference. It’s where we get to focus on the “life” side of work/life balance, and keeping it casual, welcoming, and alcohol-free makes the network at this event more accessible to everyone. Digging into data tricks or workflows together during the day is one way to find collaborators—learning to ollie on a skateboard with someone on the sidewalk in front of SRCCON? That might just be a bond for life, too.

During virtual SRCCONs, that “evening” program morphed into our “social” program, and one thing we found was, these sessions are just … program. The chance to hang out together as not just journalists, but as people who love all sorts of fascinating things, makes this community so much stronger.

Scholarships and accessibility: We were able to offer nearly 1/3 of our facilitators this year travel support to attend, and more than 15% of attendees overall. Many more people were able to register for a free ticket as part of our tiered ticket sales program. SRCCON is an intentionally small event, and it means a lot to us to be able to make it this accessible. We’re so grateful for the support of sponsors who help make this happen, and for the community working with us on tiered ticket sales. We’ve always envisioned that as a way for people to offer support when they’re able and receive support when they need it, and that’s really the way it’s worked out.

These are all pieces of the mutual aid network this community is building. And when we walk out of the doors at SRCCON 2023 and start looking toward 2024, we know we’re going to be full of ideas about what we should build together next.

That’s a lot going on next week in Minneapolis! Some of it feels so familiar, from 10 years of this conference that you’ve all made into a truly special place. Some of it honestly feels new all over again. We can’t wait to be with you.

posted October 12, 2023 | posted in OpenNews