OpenNews

Our SRCCON proposals guide is here to help

by Ryan Pitts

Each time we run SRCCON, not only do we get more session pitches than the year before, we also see more proposals that really speak to the participatory, conversational style of the conference. That momentum has built over the years thanks to a pretty amazing journalism-tech community, full of people willing to trade ideas with each other and talk about what works.

OpenNews exists in large part to help people find collaborators like that, not just for conference sessions but for the journalism they’re doing every day. The values we have as a program are all in place to promote a community of peers solving problems together. But even in the strongest, most welcoming communities, it can be hard to break in and start building a network that offers you thoughtful support. If you work in a smaller or more isolated newsroom, or if you’re a member of a community that isn’t well-represented in journalism or tech, barriers to participation can be even bigger.

So when it comes to SRCCON, we put a lot of effort into supporting new voices—as attendees, as advisers, and as session facilitators, too. Outreach helps us work toward this goal each year, but we also think transparency plays a big role. It’s easier to feel confident about a session pitch when there’s clarity about conference style and expectations, and when we, as conference organizers, are available and eager to answer questions and workshop ideas. It’s also easier to take creative risks when you feel like someone has your back.

So this year I put together a guide to submitting SRCCON proposals that (we hope!) takes the mystery out of the session proposal process. It covers:

  • key dates in the review calendar
  • what we look for in session pitches
  • how to draft a proposal that stands out
  • where to reach out for further support

We’re always impressed when organizations put in the work to make applications accessible—this NPR Visuals writeup on how to apply for an internship is a great example—and this documentation is one part of our effort to do the same for SRCCON. It’s an opportunity for us to share both expectations and encouragement. We hope it helps you feel ready to write up your ideas, and that you’ll tell us how we can make the guide even better.

We don’t want to be prescriptive about what you pitch, but we do want you to feel confident about filling out that proposal form. Nothing’s more fun for us than being blown away by a session idea, and imagining how excited SRCCON will be to see it on the schedule.

In the past three years, proposals have dug into deeply technical work as well as cultural infrastructure, from satellite mapping and machine learning to team workflows, hiring, and inclusive management. Your session ideas have engaged with attendees in group discussions and workshops…but also role-playing games and field trips. Session pitches regularly take on newsroom tasks from angles we never imagined, drawing in fields like couples counseling and science fiction.

It’s a great problem to have, trying to select just a few dozen ideas from among so many great ones. But we’re rooting for you! And we hope you know we have your back.

posted April 03, 2017 | posted in srccon 

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