SRCCON 2017 creates space to care for each other
by Erika Owens and B Cordelia Yu
As news nerds assemble in Minneapolis for SRCCON, we’re excited about this year’s conference and a bit reflective. The last year has been tough for many in our community. Many of us have barely been sleeping with the unending new cycles. Many in our industry and newsrooms are in increasingly precarious places. For some of us this has been a difficult year for personal, family, or health reasons. It has been tough year.
And for many industry events, you have to push all that away and put on a professional face. To ignore the fact that you are the only person of color, woman, or queer person representing your team. To pretend that our work and our identities are separable. That is not what SRCCON is for. At OpenNews, our job is to create spaces for journalists to collaborate and share with one another. We take proactive steps to create a space that is inviting. We hope that at its most successful, it allows you to bring your whole self into this community because we know that we can’t take care of ourselves and each other if we can’t speak openly, if we don’t see ourselves represented, if we’re constantly in a position where we feel we have to defend our very humanity.
That is why we think about who comes to SRCCON and what topics are covered, so that you won’t be alone with your perspectives or questions. We emphasize collaboration and support so you can build new connections and friendships. This week, we come together to learn, celebrate, and strategize. To talk about what sustains us and our ability to do journalism that informs, strengthens our communities, and creates equity. We’ve also made space for literal fun and games, sunshine (we hope!) and good food, with a Thursday evening program focused on the things that nourish us whether that be a tabletop game or skateboard. It’s not just strategies for overcoming challenges that keep us going, but community and connection over a meal and on a park bench. We come together to raise each other up.
To make that reality, we’ve tried to put thought into this year’s program:
- 31% of this year’s sessions will be led by a person of color and 55% by a woman, this diversity of life experiences is also reflected in the overall attendee pool.
- To help people who are underrepresented in our community come, we gave out 40 SRCCON scholarships—nearly double what we were able to give last year! With the support of sponsors, both facilitator and participant scholarships went to folks from The Seattle Times, The Arizona Daily Star, The Oregonian, Portland Press Herald, The Marshall Project, and many other news organizations.
- Attendees hail from around the US and a few coming from abroad, too. News organizations represented include Quartz, The New York Times, The Washington Post, ProPublica, Wall Street Journal, Chartbeat, Vox, NJ Advance Media, Philly.com, Iowa Falls Time Citizen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mother Jones, and Deseret News. In addition, there’s a bunch of local Minneapolis/St. Paul organizations represented including The Star Tribune, The Pioneer Press, MinnPost, and MPR.
- Sessions include art, code, management, revenue, and product. Some cover topics and ongoing conversations from our industry, including:
- Continuing from a NICAR Conversation, Helga Salinas and Michael Grant will lead a session for people of color only to speak honestly and share strategies for working in journalism.
- Kaeti Hinck is building from her and Emily Chow’s popular session on management last year to discuss how to balance your own needs with those of your team.
- Rachel Schallom will dig into one facet of the frustrating hiring landscape for news nerds, with a session to talk through how to test skills during the hiring process.
You can check out the SRCCON Spotlight on Source to get an idea of what to expect. Erin and Lindsay went back and interviewed some of our favorite facilitators from last year and it’s a great way to see how SRCCON works and moves forward once the conference is over. You can also check out the full schedule and see what you might want to catch up with after the conference.
We’re going to get to spend the next two days with a couple hundred news nerds, but if you won’t be there in person, you can follow along remotely. We’ve also just announced another SRCCON for this year! SRCCON:WORK is coming up December 7+8 and gives us two days to focus even more on these themes of care, collaboration, and growth.
In tough times, it’s critical for us to find ways to share and support one another. We’re grateful for these two days together and look forward to connecting with folks throughout the rest of the year and beyond. 7 months down, 5 to go—we got your back.