Past Event

2017 People-Powered Publishing Conference #PPPC17

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Conference session descriptions and the session schedule are now available!

There’s no question that the field of journalism faces historic changes and challenges.  After the results of the 2016 election took so many news outlets by surprise, it’s no longer possible to ignore the reality that the relationship between the media and the American public needs work.  But we’re not starting from square one: civic-minded media innovators across the country are already pursuing projects that put listening, dialogue, and collaboration front and center.

In partnership with Columbia College Chicago, Hearken, City Bureau, Groundsource, and the Crowd-Powered News Network, Illinois Humanities is bringing those people together at the People-Powered Publishing Conference.

This conference is about making connections, working through ideas and sharing resources.  It’s also a space for practitioners across sectors to start doing new things together.

We want you to join us if you’re a seasoned engagement reporter ready to share what you’ve learned. We want you to join us if you’re a journalist trying to make a case for engagement to your bosses, or if you’ve got a knotty engagement challenge you need help cracking.  If you’re a member of a community organization that’s collaborated with your local media – or if you have a collaboration idea and you’re trying to make it real – this conference is for you too.


Engagement Challenge Award

Congratulations to Free Street Theater’s Coya Paz, first-ever winner of ProPublica Illinois and Illinois Humanities’ Engagement Challenge Award! Read more about the project here.

About the Award:

A successful proposal will identify a challenge that relates to one or more of the themes below, and suggest a path to helping ProPublica Illinois address that challenge.  Is it an engagement strategy to build trust? A digital or social-media tool to connect people? A series of in-person events? Are you going to suggest we buy a van and travel around the state? A combination of all these things? Well, that’s up to you.

Previous experience in journalism is not strictly required.  However, a successful application will address, as specifically as possible, what communities are affected by, and may be involved in, the challenge/solution you propose, and how you personally relate to that community.

Themes include:

  • Bridging urban, suburban and rural communities; connecting Chicagoland with communities throughout Illinois around shared interests, issues, or information;
  • Engaging communities that reflect the diversity of Illinois residents. This could be understood broadly: bridging racial, economic, ideological, cultural and generational divides, within and across communities, or by focusing on a specific community;
  • Building trust with communities as a new investigative media entity in the state and broadening ProPublica Illinois’ audience by including the communities it reports on in the reporting process;

This award is intended to support the development of a prototype project or initiative that could become a key component of the overall engagement strategy being developed by ProPublica Illinois’ engagement reporter and ProPublica’s engagement team. The challenge winner will receive guidance from ProPublica’s engagement editor and the ProPublica Illinois engagement reporter, as well as Illinois Humanities, to develop and execute the project over approximately six months.

Conference Co-presenters

HearkenHearken, GroundSource, City Bureau, and Crowd Powered News Network logos is an audience-driven model and platform enabling newsrooms to meaningfully engage the public throughout the reporting process, resulting in original, relevant and high-performing content.

GroundSource is a community engagement platform that powers direct, two-way conversations between newsrooms and the communities they serve, to gather on-the-ground perspectives and build lasting relationships.

City Bureau is a newsroom and journalism training lab that seeks to regenerate civic media ecosystems within historically disenfranchised and underreported neighborhoods, and to create a sustainable pipeline of innovative and locally responsive reporting on the city’s South and West sides.

The Crowd-Powered News Network is a group of media professionals and others who are actively engaging communities — both online and offline — in the creation of journalism. It is a place to share practical information about community outreach, experimental storytelling, new technologies, job opportunities, and more.

Challenge Award Partner

ProPublica Illinois is a non-profit newsroom focused on investigative journalism in the public interest. It is the first state-level expansion of ProPublica, headquartered in New York City.


Venue Partner

Columbia College Chicago logo

This conference is made possible in part by our partners and hosts at Columbia College Chicago, an international leader and recognized pioneer in arts and media education.


This event is supported in part by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

This event is sponsored in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which works to strengthen American democracy by informing, engaging and activating Americans through deep investments in independent journalism and media.

For more information, please contact Simon Nyi.