Looking back at 2023: We spent this year creating opportunity

A photo of a beach shore with the year 2023 inscribed in the sand. The water is beginning to wash the inscription away.

(Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash)

OpenNews is a small organization, but the community we support has a huge impact. Our programs and events help people share projects, explore ideas, build skills and, just as importantly, build connections with others that support them in that work. A growing network of peers is our strength; we know that helping one journalist helps many journalists.

How do we go about building relationships among peers within journalism? We make programming that strengthens the connections between us, finding common threads in the struggle to improve our industry. We delve into the technical stuff, we don’t shy away from the cultural stuff and we do our best to reconcile the two because we know workplace culture affects our ability to report the news.

Here’s a look at some of the things we’re most proud of doing in 2023 and how our small team acts as a force multiplier with your support! If you’re able, please consider a gift to our year-end fundraising drive since it’s matched up to 15K with a matching gift from our advisory board.

Your support helps all these programs and activities happen and connects journalists who are fighting for a better future in news. Thank you for playing a huge part!

Scholarships: 42 stipends awarded!

Tons of people in our community work for organizations that can’t or won’t make funding available for professional development. Our Scholarships+ program is a way we can close that gap while also prioritizing applications from communities that are underrepresented in journalism.

In 2023, we gave out 42 stipends:

  • 67% went to people of color
  • 76% went to women

Stipend recipients participated in dozens of events: conferences like NICAR, NABJ, AAJA, ONA, NACIS, and more; along with courses and workshops on facilitation, fundamentals of web development, Poynter’s Lead With Influence, and many others.

Relationship-building at NICAR: 5 NICAR meet-ups

NICAR is a big part of the year for many members of this community. Beyond scholarship support, we looked at NICAR 2023 as a chance to help people build more and deeper relationships, in small groups and 1-on-1.

We organized or supported:

  • 5 small-group meetups: Two welcome dinners that both gathered ~10 people the night before the conference so people could head into NICAR knowing a few friendly faces. And three more meetups led by community members, for early career newsroom engineers, gender-expansive attendees and members of the DEI Coalition.
  • 22 one-on-one lunches: We encouraged people to sign up for a lunch gift card, so they could invite someone to lunch. This was the first year we’ve tried this kind of individual approach to support for relationship-building, and it was awesome!

Relationship-building is a core part of our work, and what we learned from bringing that focus to NICAR helped inform so much of work in 2023 and going forward.

DEI Coalition: Over 1,100 members strong!

  • The Coalition has more than 1,100 members now, and it continues to grow! Not a member yet? Sign up here.
  • Many members participated in NICAR. We helped some get there through scholarships, allowing some people to get together who mostly talk and support each other online.
  • Tons of 1-on-1 conversations continued inside the Slack community. These individual conversations deepened relationships and expanded networks. And that experience helped us decide to pull a similar 1-on-1 focus into our NICAR plan and beyond!
  • The amazing community mods have had countless conversations to make their processes self-sustaining and to imagine the community’s future. It’s so exciting to see that making the Coalition more resilient and will present some new opportunities in 2024.

News Nerd Survey: More than 600 responses

We got to share results early this year from the 2022 News Nerd Survey, following up on previous work from 2017. It was fascinating to mark the community changes over that time, with more women, more journalists of color and more managers represented in this most recent survey. Plus, a deep dive into equity and pay data found that the gender pay gap among coders remains stark, and compensation is now a top motivator for leaving a job in journalism.

The survey also found that people in this community are more spread out geographically and have been in their roles for longer, but some things have also remained the same: a shared sense that addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in journalism is a top priority for our field.

Source: 23 articles from as many different authors

Source is all about showing your work so other journalists can replicate it in their communities with a head start from everything you’ve already learned. It’s about sharing experiences so other journalists feel seen, feel less alone, and know that they’re part of a community that’s working on or struggling with the same things they are.

Beyond sharing News Nerd Survey results, Source covered topics like:

  • Which OCR tools are best for newsrooms in 2023
  • How to tell your career story, and stay ready for new opportunities
  • How wage theft data can lead you to powerful local reporting
  • Experiments with ChatGPT and PDF data extraction
  • Priorities to help newsrooms cover trans issues with more accuracy and nuance
  • “Magic” spreadsheet formulas for using Census data to investigate neighborhood inequities

And much much much more.

New team members: 2 + 2 - 1 JSK fellow = 3 co-directors

In August, we grew from two to three staff members!

Read more in our announcement post where we talked about the new structure for OpenNews and what Jessica and John bring to the organization. Erika is still on hiatus at her JSK fellowship, and we’ll let you know when we can update you on what she has been up to.

SRCCON: Almost 50% of you came for the first time

We commiserated, brainstormed, problem-solved, listened and offered advice over those two days in 37 amazing sessions. We got to do it in person again, which made it all the more special.


  • More than 40% were people of color
  • Nearly two-thirds were women
  • Almost half were leading a SRCCON session for the first time


  • More than 35% were people of color
  • Almost 60% were women
  • 60% were at their first in-person SRCCON
  • Nearly 50% were at their first SRCCON of any kind

Community support

  • 31 travel stipends to help people get to Minneapolis for SRCCON
  • Including facilitators as well as participants
  • 77% for women
  • 55% for journalists of color
  • 59 need-based free tickets to the conference

Awesome projects we were hired for: 3 events we supported

  • NPA Summit: We love working with the News Product Alliance, and got to help them with their annual Summit again this April. Hundreds of product thinkers gathered for 47 sessions across three days—master classes, topical workshops, and social conversations designed around deepening peer relationships, learning new skills and co-creating best practices for product in the news industry.
  • Data Institute: We’ve been thrilled to be a part of the Data Institute for several years now as well: a free, intensive workshop that teaches journalists how to use data, design, and code. This year we partnered with the Center for Journalism & Democracy and the Ida B. Wells Society to bring 15 journalists to Howard University for a two-week deep dive into data journalism together.
  • The Democracy Summit: We even got to work with CJD a second time in 2023, helping with program and speaker support for their second annual Democracy Summit. This one-day event is a challenge to status quo journalism, and this year’s panels dug deep into topics like “culture wars,” gerrymandering, and AI.

This was a packed year full of joyous moments, challenging moments and a whole lot of love and support within our community. It was also a year of change, expansion and settling into a new normal. With the addition of two new co-directors, a return to an in-person SRCCON experience and the stakes feeling higher than ever, we are ready to take on 2024 with even more support for the OpenNews community.

We hope you have a great end to 2023! We’ll be back soon with more updates on what we’re looking to achieve in 2024. Stay tuned!

The OpenNews team: Jessica, John and Ryan

posted December 13, 2023 | posted in OpenNews