SRCCON's back and we've got so much to share
by Erika Owens
SRCCON is back in Minneapolis for the incredible journalism-tech community to come together to learn, chat, hang out, and plan for how we’re gonna keep remaking journalism.
We’ve already shared about some of the vision behind SRCCON this year and the themes that came up from your sessions. As we head into an intense and invigorating two days together, we also want to outline some of the exciting new (and returning) aspects of our program this year.
Creating space for connection
Everything about how we organize SRCCON is set up to make it easy for participants to really connect, to share challenges and questions, to strengthen relationships, and to enjoy time with people who care about each other. That’s still our core organizing value, which comes up in our preparations and how our time is structured.
Some highlights of the planning this year:
- We were able to offer 1/3 of facilitators a scholarship to attend and nearly 10% of attendees. Overall, we gave out 50 travel scholarships and scholarship tickets. For an event of our size (300!), we’re proud to be able to offer this proportion of scholarships, and we’re grateful for the support of sponsors and tiered ticket sales that make this accessibilty offering possible.
A related experiment: tiered ticket sales were a totally new idea for us, and one that really worked. It raised $30,000 more, while still allowing folks paying their own way, freelancers, contractors, and people from smaller and cash-strapped organizations to attend at the same ticket price as last year. The ticket sales experience could be its own post, but the main point here is scholarships have been one part of how we’ve supported one another since the very first SRCCON, and it’s a way this community shows up for each other.
- We’re hosting free childcare, and this time it’s on site! It’s our first time having it in the building, and our seventh time working with our childcare provider KiddieCorp. Big thanks to event planner Erik Westra for helping us figure out how to continue providing this accessibility offering, and to all the parents bringing their kids to SRCCON!
A related experiment: we offered a caregiving scholarship for the first time this year, to help with expenses related to attending the conference and caring for a child or any other loved one.
- Your amazing set of session proposals resulted in nearly 50 sessions on so many aspects of what it means to do this work in 2019, from relationship to community, to ethics, to leadership and learning. Two-thirds of session facilitators are women, and over 1/3 are people of color, with a wide range of news organizations, roles, and perspectives represented, too.
- The McNamara Alumni Center venue continues to be a welcoming and accessible space, with room for us to spread out and chat over snacks and meals that are inclusive of different dietary needs, and offer little bits of local flavor, too.
Opportunities to experiment
We know that the standard SRCCON experience is one that participants love because of all those chances to connect and chat. We haven’t messed with that, but we are experimenting with a few new additions this year.
- Pre-conference session - with Lewis Wallace of Press On about Strategies to Transform Journalism. We’re already in the venue Wednesday to set up, and Lewis had the great idea to try out a pre-conference session. In the past, some participants have asked for SRCCON to add a third day, so this is one little experiment down that path, and an amazing opportunity for SRCCON attendees to get to learn with Lewis.
- Science fair - there are so many fantastic projects in this community to make the work of data journalism easier, and we wanted to help participants learn about and give feedback to those projects so we’re trying out this new format. Eight projects will present at the same time, science fair style — fielding questions, sharing lessons and successes. And after SRCCON, we’re eager to see how to continue to help this network of projects ensure their work gets into the hands of the journalists who need it.
- Network meetups - SRCCON hosts a network of networks, but some folks might not know about all the communities of support that already exist. These meetups happen already on their own, but we added a spot on the Thursday evening schedule for journalists of color and local coders to make it a little easier for folks to find each other.
- Video + photos - community member Elaine Wong offered to do video and photo coverage of SRCCON this year! She’s setting up a video booth for any reflections on SRCCON you’d like to offer and will be taking photos, too. We had a videographer a few years back, and it was awesome to have that reference to share. Now we’ll be able to have an updated one, and organized by someone within the community, too!
- After Party Toolkit - there’s a lot of new stuff happening during the conference, and Emma Carew Grovum put together a toolkit to plan out what you’re going to take home and how. We’re so psyched for this as a resource for SRCCON, of course, but also for any conference or event where you’ve got questions, connections, and wisdom to bring back to your local community.
It’s going to be a bustling two days. And while we put a lot of effort and intention into the planning, it is the participants and the community everyone creates together that makes it such a special place.
We’ll be sharing a ton online, in transcripts, and in documentation to come. Plus, there’s a set of community related sessions this week that is going to inform the future planning of OpenNews and you can bet we’ll have a bunch more to share about that soon. (Intrigued? We’re also now hiring a full-time OpenNews team member to help shape that vision.)
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