NOTE: The schedule is subject to change. Participants will be notified in advance.
FRIDAY, OCT. 12
Registration & Welcome coffee
Keynotes – Changing mindsets
Unsafe Thinking: How I used stories and science to get unstuck
Fifteen years into running a creative agency, the creativity disappeared. Much of it was my fault. As a leader, I had become too much of an expert, too stuck in the lessons of the past, too obsessed with predictability. I almost lost everything. Then I went on a quest to talk to heroes of mine who had challenged and changed themselves when they needed it most. And I read as much science as I could to discover how it’s done. I call the practices I discovered “unsafe thinking” and I believe it’s the key to making all of us far more creative.
The radical acts of asking and listening
The best insights and ideas often happen outside the places they can be realized. Someone has a brilliant idea for a new product, but lacks connections to people in that industry. Another person has a smart question for a person in power, but no ability to reach them to get answers. What if every company and institution had a way where useful insights from people outside of that organization could flow into them, be processed, and lead to action? Hearken is trying to make this possible, starting with the journalism industry. CEO and co-founder Jennifer Brandel will share her path and vision toward reimagining the assets of a news organization to be paired with the power and curiosity of the public they serve. She'll share how with a few shifts in perspective, new potential can be unlocked and top-performing, award-winning stories can result.
Keynotes – The Deep Story
Who Commands the Narrative
The method for deep narrative stories remains the same, but the world around this method has changed dramatically. The basic tools of our craft are constant – get off the phone, go where the subjects are, be on the ground with them, and witness, witness, witness. What's different is that we are no longer the sole authority of other people's stories. They have command of their own narratives – through social media, through their own participation in a polarized media landscape – so why do they need journalists?
Rewriting the Boogeymen
Though there are true sociopaths in the world, studies continue to show us that they are rare. Most people – even terrorists who do the most socially unacceptable and morally despicable things imaginable – are acting on far more complicated motivations. I’d like to make the case that a close inspection of those motivations is a worthy pursuit for journalists, especially during times of increased political polarization in much of the world. I’m making the case that as journalists, we have an imperative to dig deeper into the inner lives of the people who we strongly disagree with. I’m also making the case that when we do so, we’ll find that our stories become more fascinating and more honest. It’s often pointed out that podcasts and radio have a special way of emotionally connecting journalists and their subjects with those who listen. In this discussion, we’ll examine the way we can use audio storytelling to draw listeners into the lives of people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and values.
Lunch & Story Time
Keynotes – The Margins
Stories from the Margins
I have always looked to the margins for stories - from the strange corners of the internet to fringe political movements - and tried to understand what their lives say about the rest of ours. I want to force people to see what's happening in society, even when it's ugly. Because if we close our eyes it won't go away.
Upending Documentary Practice: The Dissident Aesthetic
Photojournalists and documentary photographers are challenging conventional forms of storytelling by changing the terms of engagement between author and protagonist and experimenting with visual approaches, which run counter to prevailing narratives. In the process, they are producing work that is meaningful and gets attention despite an industry landscape where shocking and dramatic images are valued over nuance and complexity. Nina will explain how she has done this in her own practice, through examples of several key projects that upended prevailing narratives, methods of distribution and aesthetics.
Taming the Brain
Have you ever held a real human brain in your hands? If you are not a freak or a medical geek, you probably haven’t. But if you had, first you would have been amazed that it is smaller than you hoped it would be (wink) and then by how soft and vulnerable our brain is. A human brain is indeed a miracle but it’s an imperfect one. This imperfection makes it more beautiful, more interesting but also more dangerous. This imperfection makes us more prone to believe the words spoken by a nicely dressed woman with round big eyes than the long talk given by a musty scientist. This imperfection doesn’t help us understand probabilities and risks, and generally numbers. This imperfection makes us more willing to believe a story which does make sense even if it doesn’t pass the test of truth. The bad news is that, in our daily life, it is not us who control it, but it is our brain which controls us. The good news is that there are several ways in which we can “rewrite” the way it acts. If you want to have a good brain, first you must tame it.
The Other Side of Everything
Closing drinks at Radisson Blu
SATURDAY, Oct. 13
Registration & Welcome coffee
Keynotes – The Personal Narrative
The Change You Want to See in The World Begins with Your Own Story
Murray Nossel talks about the power of using your personal story in challenging the status quo of the world: With yourself, at home with your family, with your friends, in your company and wider community. Murray draws on his own story to show how storytelling can rewrite narratives of loss, grief and powerlessness to effect personal and political transformation.
Rewriting the Roma Narrative
Ioan Petre, Nesime Salioska, Akif Kariman, Ioanida Costache, and Roxana Marin
Keynotes – The Family Narrative
Narrating a Nation – A Personal Story
When a country breaks apart, what happens to its story? Who gets to re-stitch the contentious past into a healing ground on which to build again? Having grown up in Yugoslavia, a country that disintegrated over a decade of civil wars, much of my work is informed by ruins and archives, the tracing of their disappearance, and the gathering of remains. Identity requires narrative, yet more than 20 years later, we find ourselves still unable to tell our story. As historians and politicians fail, and sites of public memory are subject to erasing and forgetting, and it is alternative historiographic practices that are responding to the challenge. In my case - documentary filmmaking. In seeking rules of cinematic engagement with the past, I became attracted to exploring topographies of memory and intimacy, witnesses and found images. In my most recent film The Other Side of Everything the task became much more personal as I turned our divided family home into the front line of this battle.
Documenting the Personal
Diana Markosian is a Magnum photographer who will join us to discuss her latest documentary project 'Santa Barbara', which looks at immigration through the perspective of one family, her own. Her work explores the deeply personal from documenting the lives of young Chechen girls coming of age in the aftermath of war, to her reconnection with her estranged father to a film on Armenian survivors. Her work is both conceptual and documentary, allowing her subjects to dictate the outcome of the work.
Lunch & Story Time
Keynotes – The Facts and Critical Thinking
An honest look at subjectivity
The way we see and understand the world is shaped by where we grew up, our family lives, education, and experiences. No two people will observe an event and come away remembering the same details. Our minds don’t work that way. They are highly individualized storytelling machines that narrate reality differently to every single one of us. Though we are used to understanding the value of this when we appreciate literature, we have long persisted in pretending that subjectivity plays no part in the work of journalists. It's time we took an honest and curious look at this fact. Zuzanna Ziomecka works for Poland's largest liberal daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, where she leads digital innovations for the women's brand Wysokie Obcasy. She is editor-in-chief of NewsMavens.com, Europe’s alternative front page where news stories are exclusively chosen by women. At The Power of Storytelling, Zuzanna will shed some light on how our own personal filters affect the news narrative and our understanding of current affairs in modern Europe.
Anna Rosling Rönnlund
We humans are born with a craving for fat and sugar. But we are also born with a craving for drama. We pay attention to dramatic stories and we get bored if nothing happens. But this dramatic worldview can be stressful. It leads to bad focus and bad decisions. Gapminder has measured knowledge on global trends among the world’s top decision makers in public and private sector. Their global ignorance is high, just like the ignorance of journalists, activists, teachers and the general public. Our results show that people have a very dramatic worldview. This has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s a problem of factual knowledge. Facts don’t come naturally. Drama and opinions do. Factual knowledge has to be learned. Anna will present the results of Gapminder’s systematic study on global ignorance to illustrate how this skews our view about other countries. She’ll present a few tips on how to overcome this dramatic worldview with Factfulness: the relaxing habit of basing your opinion on facts.
Creating S-Town: A New Way to Tell a Story
Brian Reed is the host and co-creator of the podcast S-Town. In his talk, Brian walks his audience through the process of how he and his collaborators developed an entirely new kind of storytelling, taking techniques from literature and merging them with journalism in ways that hadn’t been done before. Using audio outtakes and reporting details that never made it into the final version, Brian reveals how his team invented this groundbreaking new way of telling a story. S-Town, produced by Serial and This American Life, broke podcast records by reaching 40 million downloads in its first month. Rigorously reported and entirely true, S-Town is the first podcast that feels like reading a masterful novel.