Hardly Strictly Young 2.0 | Five Years Later

Attendees of the Hardly Strictly Young Conference in Columbia, MO pose for a group photo in mid-April 2011.

Attendees of the Hardly Strictly Young Conference in Columbia, MO pose for a group photo in mid-April 2011.

“Let’s do it again!”

David Cohn responded as I thought he would when I saw him in Denver at the Online News Association conference in September. I’d just asked him about reconvening his 2011 journalism conference, “Hardly Strictly Young”. It had come up this spring via Twitter and Facebook as attendees remembered the experience. The enthusiasm did come with part of what I’d hoped for — an idea about how this time might be different.

Suggested by Robert Hernandez of USC Annenberg and #wjchat, it was easy enough:

“We each need to recommend someone else to come ‘with us’ to the reunion.”

As one of the academics of our original cohort, he had a point. Five years ago we’d focused in part on the need for younger journalists to have a seat at the table. We give a lot of lip service to “the future of journalism.” It’s hard to see the profession changing if new voices aren’t provided with opportunities and the network necessary to do so. These new voices would then be responsible for finding new people for the next gathering. The original 35, now not so Hardly Strictly Young, would ride off into the sunset but still be a tweet away.

I was excited to see excitement for such an effort, though I wondered what we’d do once we were back in a room together.

Our original charge was simple enough. We reviewed the final report from the Knight Commission on Information Needs and offered alternative recommendations to carry out its recommended strategies. Many of us have spent the last five years being able to carry some of them out and while thinking of (and trying) new ones. Many of us are still working on answering one question: What else needs to be done?

There are many who were not there in 2011 who need to be there now to show us what they’ve accomplished in recent years. I’m thinking Jennifer Brandel of Hearken and Andrew Haeg of GroundSource so far. There are bound to be others. (A lot of others.) Do we continue to focus on the East and West coasts too much, keeping us from seeing progress elsewhere? What’s going on in the southeastern United States and the Four Corners region?

I know the original group still thinks about these things because I still maintain a Twitter list of participants. (We’ll see if I finally create one via other networks as well.) It’s still a great source of information and inspiration about what we’ve been able to do. It’s also quite inspirational when you compare it to the bios we originally submitted for Hardly Strictly Young. It’d be nice to see what a group of 70 could do to move the needle even more for the future of our profession.

What do I need from those of you who read this today? If you were one of the original 35, I’d like to know if you’d be willing to do this again. I also need to know a few other things regardless of whether you participated or not:

  • Are there organizations/institutions interested in helping us pull this off in the near future(read: SOON)?
  • Are there specific questions you’d like to see us tackle as it relates to the commission’s report?
  • Do we attempt to revisit/establish new strategies for the original 2011 report?
  • Where does digital literacy and media literacy fit into carrying out strategies moving forward?
  • Is a gathering like this (& reporting out about its findings) even needed?

There are countless other questions to be raised, but I just want to get a conversation started at this point. If you have questions to be considered for conversation when this event happens, add them to the comments section.

Looking forward to what follows — and thanks in advance for your help and participation.

NOTE: I’ll add additional links in the coming days to help add to any potential conversations.