Relationship building at NICAR 2023
by Ryan Pitts and Erika Owens
NICAR is back and we’re excited to catch up with everyone who will be in Nashville! We love how events are a chance for us to build relationships with each other. At OpenNews, we believe that collectively we have the power to transform our industry, and we make that collective stronger by investing in individual relationships. So that’s what we’re focusing on at NICAR this year.
Opportunities to expand your network
We love creating easy ways for people to get to know each other a little better. We’ve got a few activities planned this year, and they may already be full by the time you read this, but they are also ideas we’re planning to replicate at other events so you might have another chance later in the year.
- Wednesday night welcome dinners These dinners are back! We’re organizing a few small group meals (with a mix of indoor and outdoor options) as people get into town on Wednesday. Email Ryan for details.
- Relationship-building meals We love small group conversations, but we also wanted to make it a little easier to have a one-on-one lunch chat too (which can be hard in the intensity of the conference!). So we’re experimenting this year with lunch gift cards to reduce a bit of that friction in inviting a colleague out to lunch. Email Erika for details.
- Thematic group meals We’re excited to support some themed meetups this year, including for the California Reporting Project and people working on newsroom data and engineering. Community members are also organizing meetups for gender expansive folks and for members of the DEI Coalition—if you missed either of those links, you can email Ryan.
So many chances to learn
Of course, NICAR is all about sharing knowledge and building skills, too. (Look at that schedule!) Some sessions and informal opportunities to chat that relate to recent work with OpenNews include:
- Code buddies Need help on a data project? Having trouble figuring out how to use that cool tool you learned about in another session? Just want to network with some other news nerds? Stop by this session and get one-on-one help from experienced data journalists who would be delighted to help you solve your problems.
- Welcoming more people into data journalism Cam Rodríguez and Aria Velazques will be leading a session to talk about how to make a more welcoming and accepting space in data journalism. Join the discussion Saturday morning.
- Chatting about the News Nerd Survey We don’t have a session about it, but Dilcia Mercedes who conducted the salary analysis this year and mago torres who analyzed the overall findings will both be at NICAR and would love to chat with you about the survey. If we do end up having an informal discussion, we will tweet out details, but otherwise you can reach Dilcia or mago by email.
Treating each other well
Through events like these, we’re able to experience a tiny bit of the future we want for this industry, right now. A future that is well resourced, supportive, inclusive—one that simply treats each other well and has space for all experiences. For many people, an event at this point in the pandemic and in a state with hostile LGBTQ legislation is still not that place. We’ll continue to support virtual programming (hope to see you at NPA Summit in April!) and other ways to fortify our relationships. But for folks who are able to be a part of NICAR, we’re excited about small relationship-building activities like these as a chance to change people’s expectations about what is possible at a professional conference and what they deserve to receive from their workplace and their colleagues.
We’re here to help fill gaps when circumstances and organizational decisions fall short, whether that be helping 20 people attend NICAR with scholarships or just taking the time to have a meal together and listening to what each other needs. After NICAR, we’ll be following up with everyone we collaborated with to see how these experiments went! Did these opportunities succeed in helping people develop more and deeper relationships? Did you learn you had something in common with someone that you didn’t know before? Have a great conversation with someone you’re already planning to talk to again? Find out YOUR perspective was exactly what was needed in a conversation? We can’t wait to experience that together!
(Oh, and if you’re thinking ahead to other conferences this year. Mark your calendars: We just published the SRCCON 2023 dates. Back in Minneapolis on October 17-18.)
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