We are often asked how we go about building the News Xchange agenda. The question arises because News Xchange is almost architectural in its design; meaning, each session and each presentation builds on the one that preceded it. There is a roadmap to our work together over the two days, and we aim to answer or address a critical question each year. Last year, for example, we asked ourselves, Is this the Golden Age of Journalism? We reflected that Golden Ages are born from adversity. That exceptional achievement in the difficult times is what ultimately characterizes a Golden Age. There is therefore reason to believe that we truly are in a Golden Age of sorts but we'll have to wait and see; the long-tail of history will be the judge.
So...back to agenda building. We begin by taking a macro view of the world as it exists today. What's new? What has changed? What is exciting? What is frightening? What makes us feel optimistic? What makes us feel pessimistic?
From this exercise we start to get a feel for the general atmosphere "out there in the world". Working with our small team of advisors -- our Advisory Board, drawn from news organizations around the world -- and our own team, plus our Host Partner (this year, the BBC), we brainstorm and make long, long lists of interesting trends and important topics. It always goes the same way. However long our brainstormed list might be, there are three or four issues that percolate to the top. They may not be very specific at this point and that's okay. But you will hear us say things like, "That's the new normal" and "That's how it is and it will never go back to the way it was".
What we aim to do is identify the zeitgeist: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
And to go from there.
At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to delivering value and meaningful experience to our delegates. In other words, it's about the audience. Is this information and discuss new? Will it bring new understanding and deeper context to our community? Does it answer a question? Does it address a critical need?
Once we have a rough outline of the key issues we are seeking to address, we ask our Executive Board to suggest some possible speakers, moderators and guests. We also put out the call to our NX community and ask for recommendations. We are always looking for recommended speakers! Please do not be shy. Nominate someone else or nominate yourself. The key for us is not to deliver a binary set up for looking at the news industry's most critical questions. it's not "He's conservative, she's liberal". What we look for is a spectrum, as that will give us the platform for discussion and debate, and it will more closely mirror the feelings in the room itself.
We continue to tweak and balance our agenda up until the last moment. This is the news business, and we need to ensure that we up to date and on top of trends and stories that matter the most to our audience (and to their audiences, in turn).
If you have an idea you'd like us to consider, or you know of a great speaker you'd like to suggest, please don't be shy! Please email Amy Selwyn, Managing Director of News Xchange, at firstname.lastname@example.org