Engaging Emergence

Advancing the Future of Journalism for All

An Online News Association Pre-Conference

Monday, Aug 21, 5:30 through Wednesday, Aug 23, noon

Register now
Attendance is by invitation from someone who is registered.*

How do we reimagine journalism for our times?

Calling the adventurers who have been reimagining journalism:
Let us pool what we have learned to take our work to a new level.
Let us accelerate adoption of our work through excellent execution and application.

Disruptive times, as we are living now, have called out the creative spirit in many of us. What has worked for you? What are your guiding principles? How might we bring together what each of us has learned to amplify our effectiveness – our practices of equity and inclusion, connecting through listening, telling constructive stories that inspire, activate, and generate collaboration on behalf of our diverse communities, democracy and the planet?

We are thrilled to partner with the Online News Association because we share a commitment of equipping journalists to innovate.

In conjunction with the OJA Gather Award in Community-Centered Journalism… 

Agora Journalism Center and Journalism That Matters are hosting an ONA23 pre-conference bringing together journalists and allies for a participant-driven exchange of information and ideas. In collaboration with:

Our Intent

To connect what we have learned, uncover the philosophies and principles that inform our work, and act on synergies that strengthen and accelerate the adoption of practices that rise – with excellence – to the urgency of our times.

Our Approach

Using Journalism That Matters’ signature approach to participant-driven conferencing, we’ll set the agenda in real-time. By inviting questions that matter to the people attending, we draw out their wisdom and experience in small group discussions. The resulting networking and community connection is where innovative projects large and small are often born or accelerated.

In other words, we’re setting the stage for a lively and productive exchange around challenging questions with a group of peers who care about journalism rising to the needs of our changing world.

Conference Goals

  • Connect people and streams of work to amplify our collective impact
  • Celebrate our synergies and identify opportunities for working together
  • Make visible core principles of this work to equip us to integrate it into journalism norms
  • Celebrate Journalism That Matters’s 22-year legacy and Solutions Journalism Network’s 10 year anniversary

Who’s Coming?

By bringing together experienced practitioners, researchers, educators, funders, and others who care about journalism’s role in civil society, we seek to advance the conversation from why to how, creating a space for sharing knowledge and concrete approaches to realize the promise of  journalism reimagined. 

Where many conferences offer needed 101-level engagement conversations, our focus is on those who come with knowledge and experiences to offer one another. Instead of making the case, we’ll imagine possibilities and make plans for a leap in effectiveness and adoption. 


Five years have passed since Elevate Engagement in Portland. This 2017 gathering and the 2015 Experience Engagement convening were co-hosted by the University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center and Journalism That Matters. The idea of Gather was hatched at the 2015 unconference. The timing is ripe to assess how far the growing communities of practice have come, where we are, and what needs to happen next to fulfill the promise of doing journalism that is centered in and responsive to the public’s needs and more inclusive of the public’s voices and diversity.

To reflect on how we got here, it’s also fitting to recognize and honor early innovator Journalism That Matters. After being at the forefront of transforming journalism’s relationship with communities for more than two decades, JTM is transitioning to new leadership. To help tell the story of JTM’s impact AND to continue learning from the lessons and processes gleaned throughout the years, Agora and JTM were inspired to team up to co-host this third gathering: Engaging Emergence.

While the practice of engaged journalism has flourished in the years since our first gatherings, so have solutions journalism, collaborative journalism, solidarity journalism, media innovation and entrepreneurship, an increased commitment to equity and inclusion, and other community-centered philosophies in and outside journalism for informing, connecting, and engaging the public. What can we learn from each other to deepen and broaden the work? We saw this third conference as an opportunity to connect with others seeking to do journalism of, by, and for the people.

We are holding this gathering as a pre-conference to ONA 23 to: 

  • Make it easier for participants to manage the costs and logistics involved in conference travel since they’ll already be attending ONA and won’t have to make a separate trip;
  • Integrate the latter part of our gathering into the ONA program to elevate this work within our field and broaden our circle; 
  • Collaborate with local partners in Philadelphia who are leaders in this work and can root the conversation in the community around us.


*About registration
Registration is by invitation — either directly from the organizers or from someone who registers. This approach allows us to be intentional about creating a space for 250 people who are already reimagining journalism while widening the circle of people in conversation.  Enter the registration access code they give you. If you have the code, please share it with anyone you believe has something to contribute to this gathering. If you’re not sure whether to invite someone, ask yourself: Do I want to be in this conversation with them? If so, go for it. 

Need financial support? Please contact our registrar at to request a code for a registration fee waiver. If you also need travel support, we can offer a stipend to offset some expenses. You can request it through the registration form or by asking the registrar.