About Sessions at SRCCON
SRCCON is built around two days of peer-led conversations and hands-on workshops. The community members who step up to facilitate these sessions make it all possible. They bring their experience with a topic as well as the questions they haven’t answered, and guide conversations and collaborative work that helps every attendee head home with new ideas. See the sessions coming to SRCCON 2018!
Our program is built around key community values:
- We experiment in the open—by sharing our work and processes, we do the innovative work our organizations need to evolve on the web and better inform our audiences.
- We support one another—by offering each other our expertise and empathy, we find new collaborators, help each other learn, and make our networks and organizations more resilient.
- We lead change—by challenging the power structures that have failed our industry, we push for inclusive, long-lasting change in our newsrooms, led by journalists of color and the wide swath of journalists outside of NYC/DC.
How Do Collaborative Sessions Work?
There are a lot of ways to think about the SRCCON program, but here’s the most imporant thing to know: our sessions are highly collaborative, not a panel on a stage or a speaker running through slides. This is an opportunity for peers to compare notes, share skills, and learn from each other.
We want to make SRCCON a genuinely participatory event, and it’s hard to be part of a conversation or work together in a session that’s mostly lecture. So we look for sessions that include real interactivity, and we love creative formats that support learning. Outstanding sessions might include design exercises, art and games, small-group work, role playing, even field trips—and we’re always interested in new ideas.
SRCCON sessions last about 75 minutes, and we encourage facilitators to think about outlines and information density. Overprogramming a session with too many activities can make it hard to reach a satisfying goal—but a session that’s underdesigned can easily turn into a conversation between a handful of the loudest people. We’re happy to help facilitators figure out the right balance.
What Kinds of Sessions Can You Attend? (Or Propose!)
Sessions at SRCCON explore cultural questions that help journalists work together better, new tools and techniques that people are excited about, and sessions that meet in the middle, at the intersection of technology and teams. Successful topics often emerge from a single question or problem—if you’ve been struggling with just about any aspect of your work, you can bet others have dealt with it, too. (And session proposers who are taking on similar themes sometimes even end up joining forces to present together.)
Our program explores SRCCON’s values from all angles. Facilitators might teach new ways of illustrating abstract stories or share experiments in software radio. Attendees might support each other in managing relationships across teams or developing healthy practices in remote work. And session leaders help our community push for change by elevating data journalism at the local level and sharing experiences as journalists of color.
We encourage attendees to bring their whole selves into SRCCON, and our schedule regularly extends beyond what you might expect at a journalism conference. Sessions can extend into topics like mental health and balancing work demands with family life, and hobbies from science fiction to balloon mapping.
What Does a Session Facilitator Do?
Effective SRCCON facilitation is about effort and preparation more than expertise. Our faciliators plan and guide sessions, ask great questions, share what they know, and learn from their peers. We find that the best sessions are often led by facilitators who:
- have a clear outcome in mind—what you want people to leave with,
- know what they can realistically cover in the time allotted,
- build a clear outline for the session, but deviate from it as needed,
- actively seek to run balanced, inclusive conversations, and
- make a few simple backup plans in case a session gets a larger or smaller audience than expected.
Facilitators who have a harder time have usually tried to fit too much stuff into too little time, or are underprepared for guiding an active conversation. To give you a taste of how SRCCON facilitators have turned their plans into action, here are a some writeups from previous participants on their experience hosting sessions:
- 3 Ways To Facilitate A Great Conference Session, by ProPublica’s Sisi Wei
- How We Facilitated A Huge, Participatory, Highly Charged SRCCON Session, by NPR’s Alyson Hurt
- Teaching and Brainstorming Inclusive Technical Metaphors, by Vox Product’s Nicole Zhu
- Stuck in a Rut? Tackle Newsroom Frustrations With Board Games, by Sara Konrad Baranowski of the Iowa Falls Times Citizen and Andrea Suozzo of Vermont’s Seven Days
If running a session sounds like a lot of effort…it is! But it can also be really energizing, and it means that people who are brand-new to the community—or to a topic—can make excellent facilitators if they’re willing to put in a little prep time. We provide group and one-on-one support to help facilitators prepare for their sessions, and we can help match you with a co-facilitator if you’re pitching solo and want someone to work with you on the ground. If you’re thinking about pitching a session for SRCCON 2018, check out our Proposal Guide. We’d love to hear from you!
Sessions From Previous SRCCONs
We archive each year’s conference site and schedule, so if you’d like to take a look back at the topics we’ve tackled before, dig in!