Spark Camp:: Long Distance.

Remember when long-distance phone calls cost money? Every minute counted, so every minute was precious. Now, in our various forms of quarantine, it’s easier than ever to be connected, but harder than ever to feel connected. With people restricted to gathering over video calls and social media apps, our imaginations can seem limited by the size of our screens. We’re calling on our network of alumni to join us for something different: a virtual summer Spark Camp, stretched out over months. We figure that if we have to endure a plague, we should at least imagine the Renaissance.


Spark Camp::Uncertainty.

We are confronting a vast fog of unknowns, where the future is as unclear as what’s unfolding in the present. The news cycle is unrelenting, making it difficult to think critically about the present — or to remember, with accuracy, events of the past. As information has become ubiquitous and unfettered, we’re finding it more and more difficult to gauge what we can trust. UNCERTAINTY, and how we can act knowing that there is no way to accurately predict the future, is the focus of our upcoming Spark Camp.

Spark Camp::Giving.

The changing dynamics of giving — philanthropy, charity and fundraising — are the focus of our upcoming Camp. The camp was held in Minneapolis. We gathered agents of foundations large and small; founders and makers of platforms for giving; philanthropists of many kinds, including venture and corporate philanthropists; fundraisers for nonprofits, political campaigns and other causes; scholars who’ve studied the science of giving; up-and-coming Millennial changemakers; and experienced hands with a grounding in trends and systems of philanthropy. We were very grateful for the support of the Bush Foundation, as well as to the Knight Foundation, Google, hint and Webbmedia Group. June 4-7, 2015.

Spark Camp:: Visionaries, Leaders and Managers

This camp gathered 60 brilliant newsroom leaders as well as exceptional managers and thinkers from other industries to share their knowledge and experience, discuss and debate media management and coalesce around best practices at our Spark Summit on the future of leadership and management in newsrooms. the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and WBUR were local hosts. We’re grateful for the support of WBUR, the Knight Foundation, Google, hint and Webbmedia Group. June 19-22, 2014.

Spark Camp::Storytelling.

We brought together fascinating and innovative storytellers from a variety of media disciplines – journalism, literature, cinema, theater, gaming, design and broadcast – for a weekend of thoughtful conversations about the future of the craft.  Together we explored how we tell stories and build audiences across times, places and platforms and we shared ideas, tools, and resources to help make our stories better. This camp was held in partnership with Harvard University. June 14-16, 2013.

Spark Camp::Design.

How does design impact storytelling? We sought to explore all of the ways that design — from art, to multimedia, to photography, to mobile/ tablet form factor, to user experience, HTML5 and responsive design — impacts both how we tell stories and how consumers relate to that content. We surfaced important ideas, creative solutions and collaborative discussions that will advance the interplay between design and journalism. This camp was held in partnership with the at Stanford University. January 11-13, 2013.

Spark Camp::Money.

How can we make the production and distribution of quality information sustainable and… we hope… profitable? We wanted to understand the ways in which money can be raised, allocated and generated. We emerged from this weekend with new business models for media and with real-world examples of creative solutions to challenges in the advertising, membership, sales and fundraising models. This camp was held in partnership with Harvard University.  July 20-22, 2012.

Spark Camp::Data.

How can we use data to tell important community stories, and how can we ensure that data is available to everyone? From statistical modeling to mapping to big data analysis, those in media live in increasingly larger information shadows. At this camp, we wanted to brainstorm better ways that news organizations can acquire, clean, verify, use and ultimately present data. This camp was held in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. January 13-15, 2012.

Spark Camp::Real Time.

How does real-time information affect news and our consumers’ ability to digest it?  At our first Spark Camp, we explored how to overcome the challenges of a real-time media stream as well as ways to leverage new technologies for storytelling.  This camp was held in partnership with the City University of New York.  June 10-12, 2011.