SRCCON 2018 • June 28 & 29 in MPLS Support OpenNews!

Session Transcript:
SRCCON Closing

Session facilitator(s): OpenNews staff

Day & Time: Friday, 5:30pm

Room: Memorial

ERIKA: Hello, everyone! Sorry to interrupt your concluding conversations but as we wrap up two days together, I just wanted to take a few moments for appreciations and to share some thoughts for what’s ahead of us. So thank you all for being here. We talk a lot about how SRCCON is a participatory event and it takes your questions, curiosity, openness, and care to make that a reality. So thank you. Thank you to all the facilitators who prepared activities and questions, and plans for us to be able to get into the many dimensions of this work to help us in our efforts to experiment in the open, support one another and lead change within our organizations. Thank you to all of the staff, the volunteers, Craighton, over at the coffee station, our wonderful stenographers, Stan, Maggie, and Amanda.

[ Applause ]

Yeah! Whoo-hoo! Also thank you to the venue staff here to our favorite spaceship-like venue. And, of course, our OpenNews team.. Thank you for the sponsors to made put possible, our core sponsors, WordPress VIP, Facebook, the New York Times, and the Google News Initiative. Plus, Vox Media, and Ross M. Knight (?), and also thank you from the Ford Foundation for supporting SRCCON this year. And also sending colleagues who are ready to dive into conversations and share both their expertise and personality. Thank you.

I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to create this space together, and for the ways we are organizing ourselves for the future at SRCCON, and hallway chats, on Slack channels, and beyond. Dan spoke earlier today about his leadership over the last seven years.

Dan built a team, organized an ethos of listening, care, and experimentation, which has allowed the work of OpenNews to evolve over time, to grow with you, and support what you, as a community, need. Dan hired Erik who’s snapping pictures right at this moment, and with a planner, an incredible combo of attention to detail and incredible reserve to shaped every SRCCON event. He hired Ryan who single-handedly organized all the sessions this year. Please give it up for Ryan!

[ Applause ]

Ryan’s role has evolved alongside OpenNews, remaining technical while centering more and more around community engagement and support, which Ryan tackles with the kindness that he lifts up everyone he connects with. Dan also hired Lindsay who publishes our work, Source, and yes, Lindsay!

[ Applause ]

Lindsay helps get the work that many of you do without to a wider audience than this room. Her work helps reach other newsrooms and make their work better, too. And Dan’s first hire was Erin who was the founding editor of Source and founded Purpose And people, and can innovations like snow leopards biting their tails to get into this team. I honor this work as I move into the Director role. Thank you, Dan.

[ Applause ]

[ Cheers & Applause ]

We’ll come back in a few more. Don’t worry — you’ll have a few more moments to appreciate Dan! And there’s an appreciation book making the rounds, so you can also write appreciations out. Ah, Rachel has them in the middle. It’s going around with some pens so that’s another opportunity to appreciate Dan. Hi, I’m Erika, if you don’t know me, I’ve been with OpenNews for six years, and I’m excited and humbled to be trusted to continue this work. Like many of you, my path to journalism and tech was a bit circuitous, we even have data to back this up. The News Nerd Survey reported that most of us don’t have a background in journalism or a computer science degree. That’s what I love about this community, that there’s an English major writing code alongside devs that are working, managing teams, and running products. Beyond academic background we come in to this work with many identities and as a part of many communities. At this time, that simple acknowledgment is taking a political stance and at OpenNews, we’re not afraid of that. We create space because we know that some of you feel attacked because you’re journalists and thether you are attacked as a an immigrant, a person or color, or transgendered person. Part of our time together is learning about the many parts of ourselves to build more than surface-level relationships. I’m so grateful to Dan for bringing us to this point, to have these two days together, getting to know one another, breaking bread together, and bringing a community together is the first step to transformative change and takes time. One of the principles of Adrienne Maree Brown’s book, Emerging Strategy — I want a book club, please read it — one of her principles is, “Focus on critical connections more than critical mass. Build the resiliency by building building the relationships.” I feel that describes what we’ve been able to do with OpenNews. Dan’s tenure and the Mozilla-Knight Foundation gave us the organization that few organizations are able to do, and even few organizations understand the importance of doing. Related, another emergent strategy principle is, “What you pay attention to grows.” It was remarkable to see that resilience in action over the past two days. People came in during a difficult week. Together, we digested the news of the attack on the Capital Gazette and to a degree, but gingerly, with determination, kept up the work, and even stayed for the evening to rest and reset. These connections, this resilience, the well we have to draw from right now is deep and durable and we need it because we’re not waiting anymore to transform journalism. Dan’s totally right. The newsrooms haven’t been listening to their people. They haven’t been listening to you. And what I feel like what I’m seeing, a path we’re taking together is not taking no for an answer anymore. Not sitting and waiting for a generation of owners to retire, but building and generating our institutional resilience. I’ve noticed a shift even over the last year. Change is hard, power is entrenched, the consequences of these power structures talent us and fence us in — some of us literally, more and more. It’s daunting, painful, and scary and I’m not going to claim that I know what to do. But what I’ve seen recently is recognition that, together, we know what to do, together, we have power! We have power! We already have power! We are up against powerful forces to be sure, but when we band together, we have the ability to alter those forces.

Moreover, we have the responsibility to do so. Some of us have experience with collective advertising, bake sales, or neighborhood action, or, yes, collaborative reporting projects or public policy changes. It’s been amazing seeing the change happen in newsrooms that are over 100 years old… yes! Yes! Yes!

[ Applause ]

Many folks who have led these drives are part of this community. Thanks to Moiz and Akil for holding their Part Two section yesterday. Folks in technical roles often sit between different departments and have to negotiate between a wide variety of stakeholders and still have to get it out on deadline. One of my favorite things over the last year is how the news of the Los Angeles Times used data in their organizing. They publicly shared data that show disparities by race and gender and salary at the LA Times. They used their reporting skills to make the newsroom stronger, which will in turn make them better able is to serve their city. These collective shapes take different shapes that take the time and culture of the people organizing. We have lots of people to learn from. I love that many newsrooms are going to unions, something that fragmented, stabilized the middle class lifestyle in the U.S. I love that these are moving to different channels and areas, too. Now — they’re now WhatsApp, Slack, and small groups. This invisible labor is what keeps us going. The emotional labor. The tactical labor, talking through that maple, figuring out whether to pick that battle. And, yes, the work labor. Another set of eyes on a great tactic for a mapping project, a recommendation of a tool for a tricky problem. At OpenNews, it’s important for us to sustain and support those invisible networks — to make it easier for you all to connect, to take a breath, to band together, and to build. We know that journalism is at a critical juncture. You have repeatedly pointed out how even in much of the discussion of the future of journalism, the focus is on tech, money, and trust, the real discussion is where power is held. You understand that inequality underlies all of the issues that we face and we’re ready to drive transformation and lasting change in the organization. We need change where journalists of color have real power for coverage. We know that news organizations outside of New York and DC, which are the majority, with fewer resources need to invest in the bridge roles and the informal teams that keep these people connected and you know that we must recognize that these often-invisible structures currently power the real power, experimentation, and technical progress that’s happening in newsrooms. you know this because you’re already doing this work. Over the last two days, you showed up, for one another, for yourself, to discuss the work, to discuss how to sustain each other. The answer journalism needs are in this room and you are no longer waiting for the powers to be to listen. You’re shaking things up and we have got your back. We don’t have any choice.

Some of us are unsure to cross borders or our bodily autonomy are threatened. So many of us live in a heightened state of stress but we are in this together to offer hugs, or code reviews or a couch to sleep on, you’re already mentoring, and reaching out, and creating these path for resilience and connections. We see you. We see this work. At OpenNews, we ask how we can make this work easier. We create spaces like this that disrupt stories, reconnect be you with work. This may be your first connection with OpenNews. We know that this is the first SRCCON for many of you. When you look around, how individually we know little and together we know a lot in an industry long searching for answer externally, it’s more clear that solutions lie within. We have the power and skills to lead our organizations to be more diverse, responsive, and trustworthy in the journalism that they create.


ERIKA: Yes! I’m so grateful to be in this work with you. And as we’re supporting one another, I also do have one request for your support of OpenNews. Just in a couple of days we’re well on our way of meeting a 30,000-dollar fundraising goal, and as these intensify, this is going to help in this room grow. Please go to to check that out. We’ve seen how much we are here for each other over the last two days. We are so deeply appreciative of the ways that you’re able to support us and support each other. We ask you to take care of yourselves, please take care of each other but we are here together. Thank you!

[ Applause ]

I now — Tiff has one last appreciation to share before we head home and you will have another opportunity to appreciate Dan!

TIFF: Dan, could you please come up? On behalf of everyone here, we shipped in a bottle of nice Minnesotan, high-quality rye. This one’s for you to share! And this one is for your cabin in your camper that you’re going to take up in the mountain. That one’s for you, and you can pick which one will fit.

DAN: Thank you so much!

TIFF: And we want to —

[ Applause ]

[ Cheers & Applause ]

DAN: I reclaim my role of cruiseship director just to point out that there’s a pretty hefty board of things people are doing tonight or even tomorrow that you can totally check out and continue to hang out with people. Um, Erik, when do people have to leave?

ERIC: Um, about 15 minutes. Half-past?

DAN: So you don’t have to run out of the room like we did last night. We’re not going to start blasting metal for about 30 minutes. But thank you all. This has been incredible. Erika is amazing, and you all have no idea what you’re in store for. So thank you!

[ Applause ]