Technology and Product for News Leaders Conference

Columbia College Chicago
600 S. Michigan, Conference Room 401
Sept. 28-29, 2016

INN is hosting its first technology workshop on the campus of Columbia College in Chicago. This two-day workshop will be geared toward executive directors and editors, along with newsroom technologists.

This workshop will feature industry-leading speakers on news technology and design, and each attendee will be matched with a mentor for individualized attention to technology issues at their organizations.

All INN members are invited to register for this free workshop, which is hosted on the two days before the LION Publishers Conference on the same campus to help members save travel costs.

Members can apply for travel reimbursement funds of up to $500 to help offset travel costs to Chicago. Up to 20 reimbursements are available thanks to a generous grant from the Mozilla Foundation.

Conference registration

Travel reimbursement application


These are our confirmed sessions and speakers as of this writing but this is subject to slight change as the event draws closer. All times are CT.

Wednesday, Sept. 28

10 - 10:30 am -  Welcome and introductions. Sue Cross and Adam Schweigert, INN

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. -  Congratulations, you’re a product manager! Journalists love telling great stories and they’ve developed the skills and experience to do it well. But now you have to (also) think about how to distribute those stories, who you want to reach, what impact you want to have and, above all, how to turn that into a business. Congratulations, you’re a product manager! Speaker: Rebekah Monson, WhereBy.Us

11:30 - 12:15 p.m. - Planning and budgeting for tech projects. Tools and techniques to eliminate the guesswork. Speakers: Amanda Krauss, independent consultant and Adam Schweigert, INN

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. - Lunch (provided) + Lightning talks from attendees and mentors. Prepare a five minute talk and share something you’re passionate and excited about. There’s no requirement for these to be tech related; could be about projects at your organization, side projects or other interests you have to share.

1:45 - 2:30 p.m. - Beyond pageviews: Getting the most out of analytics and impact tracking. An overview of the latest best practices around measurement and impact tracking. Speakers: Lauren Fuhrmann, Wisconsin Watch and Ryan Sholin, Chalkbeat

3 - 4 p.m. - Mentor meetings. Break into small groups and meet with mentors to discuss issues and solutions.

4 - 5 p.m. - Happy hour

Thursday, Sept. 29

10:00 - 10:45 a.m. - Recruiting and managing technical staff. Building and managing a diverse and inclusive workforce plus some general best practices for recruiting, hiring, managing and retaining tech/design talent. Speaker: TBD

11  - 11:45 a.m. - Planning and executing successful data projects. How to plan and budget for data and editorial projects, work effectively with news technologists and create impactful stories that drive change. Speakers: Julia Smith, INN and Fernando Diaz, Reveal/CIR

12 - 12:45 a.m. - User-centered design on a shoestring. How to bring design thinking into your organization without breaking the bank. Speaker: Kyle Ellis, SND

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. - Lunch (provided). More time to meet one-on-one or in small groups with mentors discuss challenges/solutions.

2:30 - 5:00 p.m. - From theory to practice. Split into groups, work through the design thinking process to propose solutions to a design challenge and share your work with the full group.

5:30 p.m. - LION opening reception. All attendees of the INN tech conference are invited to attend the LION opening reception at Film Row Cinema, 8th floor, 1104 S. Wabash, just off South Michigan Avenue in the South Loop. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the bar opens at 5:30.


Rebekah Monson is co-founder and VP of Product of WhereBy.Us, a local media startup that connects people to their cities through storytelling and experiences. Its first publication, The New Tropic, produces an email newsletter, original journalism and events in Miami that reached more than half a million curious locals in 2015. WhereBy.Us achieved profitability in its first year of operation and will scale to new markets in 2016.

Kyle Ellis is a visual journalist turned product owner with a penchant for producing collaborative innovation events for media and civic technology communities. Energized by blue-sky ideation and fulfilled by collaborative execution, Kyle believes that data-driven decision making, a deep understanding of audience needs, and a strong sense of business goals are key to launching products that win. He currently works for American City Business Journals and the Society for News Design.

Fernando Diaz is a senior editor for Reveal, overseeing coverage of labor and privacy and surveillance. He has spent most of his career in Chicago, working at newspapers, magazines and websites, including as managing editor of Hoy, a Spanish-language daily newspaper. He has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Chicago Headline Club and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and The Society for News Design. Diaz is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Lauren Fuhrmann is associate director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Fuhrmann joined the Center in 2011 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. At the Center, Fuhrmann leads revenue development efforts as well as public engagement initiatives, including events, social media, newsletter and promotional materials; tracks the distribution and assesses the impact of WCIJ’s news stories; assists with development of donors and writing of grant reports; handles bookkeeping duties; produces photos, audio and video content; and copyedits stories. Fuhrmann is vice president of the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She was among five young leaders in the inaugural group of “Future Headliners” honored in 2014 by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Amanda Krauss is an independent digital consultant who specializes in user-centered strategy and smart product decisions. Previously, she was the Director of Technology for the Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, all-digital news source for Texans. She also worked with the Tribune as an interactive producer, and before that, she developed custom websites, wireframes, and prototypes on WordPress and other platforms. Previously, Amanda was a university researcher and instructor, which gave her a strong foundation in user experience, information architecture, and public speaking. She holds degrees in Classical Studies from the University of Michigan and the University of Texas, and has also co-translated an Aristophanes play, Women in Congress, which was performed at UCLA in 2013.

Ryan Sholin is the Director of Product & Growth at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering equity issues in education. A former investigative reporter for the Oakland Tribune, online editor for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, trainer and strategist at GateHouse Media, and Product Manager at Gannett, Ryan was also a co-founder of Wired Journalists and a Knight News Challenge winner for ReportingOn.

Adam Schweigert is Senior Director of Product and Technology at INN, leading all of its technology-related efforts, including developing publishing tools, managing content syndication and measuring the impact of members’ journalism.
Julia Smith is the design lead on INN's product and technology team, working on a mix of internal projects (like Largo, our open source WordPress framework/platform for news sites), creating design standards and style guides to help guide our work and helping out INN's 110+ nonprofit members and our consulting clients.

Sponsors and Partners

INN would like to thank our sponsors and conference partners, whose generous support ensures we can continue to provide quality training to our members:

  • Mozilla Foundation
  • College of Media and Innovation, Columbia College Chicago
  • Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
  • LION Publishers (conference partner)

Hotel information

Best Western Grant Park
1100 S. Michigan Avenue, one block from Columbia College (map)
Discounted rate: $174/single, $184/double
(312) 922-2900

Rooms available at the group rate from Sept. 27-Oct. 1 under the LION Publishers block. Call the hotel directly and mention LION to book your room. You must book by Aug. 19 to receive the discounted rate.

Travel reimbursements

Thanks to the generous support of the Mozilla Foundation, travel reimbursements also are available for INN members to attend the training. Reimbursements of up to $500 are available per organization, and you must be current on your 2016 INN membership dues. Please apply here for travel funds.

LION Conference

The Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers conference starts the evening of Sept. 29, also on the Columbia College campus. This conference requires separate registration and also offers travel reimbursements for LION members. More information and registration here.

All attendees of the INN tech conference are invited to attend the LION opening reception at Film Row Cinema, 8th floor, 1104 S. Wabash, just off South Michigan Avenue in the South Loop. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the bar opens at 5:30.