Experience EngagementForget what you think you know about journalism conferences.

On Oct. 1-4, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) Agora Journalism Center and Seattle-based nonprofit Journalism that Matters are teaming up to host Experience Engagement, a participatory event where journalists, educators, researchers, policy makers, students, and other engaged citizens will work together to imagine and design a model of community-focused civic journalism for the digital age.

Experience Engagement will depart from the traditional conference format, replacing keynote speeches and panel discussions with hands-on collaboration designed to capture the collective expertise of all participants and generate ready-for-action ideas and strategies.

During the four-day “working conference”, participants will roll up their sleeves alongside leading practitioners of journalism and community engagement, including:

Ashley Alvarado, public engagement editor for Southern California Public Radio
Celeste Hamilton Dennis, editor at Idealist
Meghann Farnsworth, director, distribution and engagement at Center for Investigative Reporting
Sydette Harry
, community lead for The Coral Project
Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, executive director of The Media Consortium
Caitlin Moran, community engagement editor at The Seattle Times
Philip Napoli, professor at Rutgers University and author of Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences
Terry Parris Jr., community editor at ProPublica
Jesikah Maria Ross, Senior Community Engagement Strategist at Capital Public Radio
Talia Stroud, associate professor at the University of Texas
Mallary Tenore, executive director of Images and Voices of Hope
Wendy Willis, executive director of Kitchen Table Democracy
A full list of speakers can be found on the Journalism That Matters website.

Experience Engagement is grounded in the philosophy of the “un-conference” — an approach that emphasizes authentic dialogue and collaborative action. The program will include short “conversation catalysts” by featured speakers, but then the microphones and podiums will disappear.

“People actually get to talk to each other,” says Journalism That Matters co-founder Peggy Holman, author of the award-winning book Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval Into Opportunity. “It creates a rich and vibrant exchange of ideas, and people leave more prepared to take action.”

Conference participants will have the chance to meet new colleagues, test out ideas, and take their work to the next level — all while contributing to an ambitious team project: developing an interactive “field guide” to help journalists and other professionals strengthen their communities through news, connection, and engagement.

“I’m particularly interested in one of the primary outcomes of this conference — the interactive field guide,” says Andrew DeVigal, SOJC chair of journalism innovation and civic engagement. “We hope to launch a living resource that articulates the best of what we learn from each other, from best practices for engagement to evaluation of impact.”

Experience Engagement begins Oct. 1 at the George S. Turnbull Portland Center in downtown Portland. The early-bird registration price of $350 is available until September 1. Students can register for only $30 while spots remain.

Conference participants and other guests are also invited to attend one of two special pre-conference workshops planned for the morning of Oct. 1.

The first half-day session, hosted by Images and Voices of Hope, explores the challenges and promise of “restorative narrative,” a genre focused on telling the stories of resilience and recovery that often get overlooked in media coverage of major ‘crisis’ events.

The second workshop, titled ‘Building a Listening Post,’ addresses how journalists can more effectively listen and respond to the needs of their communities. The hands-on program will be led by Linda Miller, director of network journalism and innovation for American Public Media, and Andrew Haeg, founder of GroundSource.

The registration fee for each workshop is $75.

For more information about Experience Engagement’s schedule and registration options, please visit the conference website or contact SOJC project manager Erika Vogt.

Story by Ben DeJarnette ’15

The Agora Journalism Center is devoted to creating and supporting transformational advancements in journalism and communication to enhance public knowledge and enrich civic life for all community members. The center energizes research, teaching and learning at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication by fostering a culture of constant, meaningful innovation and diverse collaboration to serve the public good.

Journalism That Matters is a nonprofit that convenes conversations to foster collaboration, innovation, and action so that a diverse news and information ecosystem supports communities to thrive.