Introducing BEYOND: Reimagining Philadelphia Journalism, a three-day summit to create a collective vision for the future local news

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is today opening registrations for BEYOND: Reimagining Philadelphia Journalism, a three-day virtual summit to enable frank conversations between journalists, managers, and news media executives in the Philadelphia area on issues of equity. Our goal is to begin to build a collective vision of the future of journalism in our region. 

BEYOND will take place from Nov. 17-Nov. 19. The summit is open to the community and is free to attend thanks to the generous support of the Independence Public Media Foundation and the Lenfest Institute. You can register here

The summit will feature candid and transparent conversations about goals, accountability, and tangible plans for a more equitable future. During this gathering we will hear from journalists of color and community members about how journalism can rise to the present moment, learn about the roots and structures of systemic oppression and participate in design thinking sessions to vision of journalism that upends these systems. The summit will feature:

  • Dr. Shakti Butler, World Trust Educational Services, Inc. president and founder
  • Sofiya Ballin, Black History Untold creator/producer
  • Sewell Chan, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor
  • Vanessa Maria Graber, Free Press News Voices: New Jersey manager
  • Cherri Gregg, KYW Newsradio community affairs reporter
  • Priya Krishna, food writer
  • Perla Lara, Impacto Newspaper editor-in-chief
  • Bill Marrazzo, WHYY president and CEO
  • Ernest Owens, Philadelphia Magazine editor-at-large
  • Martin Reynolds, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education co-CEO

We will announce additional speakers in the coming days.

BEYOND was co-designed in partnership with Philadelphia-area journalists of color to ensure that this gathering would rise to the current moment. The BEYOND Design Committee has met monthly since March to help shape the gathering. 

We want to thank and to honor the members of the BEYOND Design Committee: Hannah Chin, Jonathan Lai, Jos Duncan, Joy Soto, Manuel McDonnel-Smith, Michaelle Bond, Miguel Martinez-Valle, Timothy Tai, and Vanessa Maria Graber. We are also grateful to the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Philadelphia chapter, and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists for helping us to identify individuals that could offer their time and insight.

Journalism plays an essential role in our society. Journalists have the ability to inform and educate the public, shape narratives, and hold the powerful to account. It was because of this power and importance to the civic health of our democracy that the nation’s founders enshrined the freedom of the press in the Constitution.

Recognizing the fact that racism and oppression were baked into this system from the beginning, it is easy to understand how journalism has too often taken on a culture and practices that have contributed to the marginalization of communities for centuries. Practiced equitably, journalism’s ability to transform and uplift communities that have historically been marginalized can powerfully and positively impact our society. To do this, we need to reimagine journalism’s role in our region and beyond. 

Our hope is that this gathering will help us begin that reimagination by collectively creating a vision of a future where all Philadelphians’ information needs are met and building a framework for collective accountability and action to bring it to fruition. We hope you will partner with us in this vital work.

Registration is now open. You can sign up to attend here.

Below is a list of the sessions that will take place over the course of the gathering. We’ll be adding additional speakers and details in the coming weeks:

November 17: Defining our Purpose

Dr. Shakti Butler: Keynote Address

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST

Dr. Shakti Butler, a leading speaker and trainer focusing on issues of racial equity, will give a keynote address to share how we might imagine and build a future for Philadelphia journalism that is healthier, more connected, and sustainable. Through Dr. Butler’s talk and subsequent small group work, we will use radical imagination and collaboration to build pathways that shift our focus beyond “What is wrong with our current reality” to “What if we lived in ways that allow our imaginations to flourish and the future were filled with hope and possibility?” This keynote will provide an opportunity to unpack this concept and prepare our community to design the future together. 

This session is for journalists, mid-level managers, news executives, funders, and non-journalist community members.

Momentum: Journalists of Color share how journalism can meet this moment

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EST

In this session, journalists of color will share the challenges they have faced in journalism and offer solutions that individuals and organizations can use to support and retain journalists of color, who are critical contributors to Philadelphia’s local news community. This discussion will feature reflections from the following journalists, mixed with key data from industry-wide studies: 

  • Sofiya Ballin, Black History Untold creator/producer
  • Sewell Chan, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor
  • Vanessa Maria Graber, Free Press News Voices: New Jersey manager
  • Priya Krishna, food writer
  • Perla Lara, Impacto Newspaper editor-in-chief
  • Ernest Owens, Philadelphia Magazine editor-at-large
  • Martin Reynolds, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education co-CEO

This session is for mid-level managers, news executives, funders, and white journalists.

November 18: Understanding our Reality

Connect: Reframing Community Information Needs

11 a.m. – Noon EST

This session will focus on several Philadelphians navigating some of the greatest challenges our city is facing. ¡Presente! Media will present a documentary exploring city residents’  information needs and explore how journalism can rise to increase their agency. After the viewing, we will have a panel discussion with community members sharing their needs and vision of Philadelphia journalism.

This session is for journalists, mid-level managers, news executives, and funders.

The Roots of Social Justice: Framing & Analysis of Systems & Structures

2 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

In order to assess the depth and complexity of the current state of equity in the journalism community nationally and here in Philadelphia, we need to understand our history and its impact on culture and identity. Framing provides people with the ability to clarify and co-locate the complex patterns and relationships that drive the persistence of societal marginality of BIPOC communities. Having the capacity to analyze the components of structures and other mechanisms that engender inequity is a precursor to change. In this session, Dr. Butler will lead participants through an exploration of Western dominant culture and engage people in systematic thinking exercises, which is crucial for either disrupting systems or building new systems.

This session is for mid-level managers, news executives, funders, and white journalists.

November 19: Reconstructing the Future

Transparency: Conversations with News Executives on Equitable Transformation

Noon – 1 p.m. EST

This session will be a panel discussion with several news executives of the region. In this session the executives will answer questions from the community, share their plans to increase equity over the course of the next year at their organizations, and let the community know how we can best support them in this transformation. This session will be moderated by KYW Newsradio Community Affairs Reporter Cherri Gregg, and we’ll announce additional participants shortly.

This session is for journalists, mid-level managers, news executives, and funders. 

Radical Imagination Workshop

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST

In this workshop we take a deeper dive into radical imagination, with opportunities for participants to work in small groups to explore and expand on the ideas unleashed in Dr. Butler’s keynote. Participants will work together to imagine what a new kind of journalism produced by a newsroom that works with a racial equity lens. We’ll discuss how participants can apply these ideas at their organization, department, or desk  and we’ll share a framework of how to begin to put it into practice.

This session is for journalists, mid-level managers, news executives, funders, and non-journalist community members.

Reclaiming Our Stories

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. EST

This panel discussion will feature leaders who are working in tandem with their community to share or tell Black stories through non-traditional means. This session will be curated and moderated by Sofiya Ballin.

This session is for journalists, mid-level managers, news executives, funders, non-journalist community members.

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