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Submit your NICAR20 Lightning Talk ideas

Submissions are now open for Lightning Talks to be featured at #NICAR20 in New Orleans!

Lightning Talks, which take place on the Friday afternoon of the conference, are five-minute talks about a particular tool, skill or piece of advice learned from working on stories. The goal is to teach some practical tips in a fun and entertaining way.

The talks began in 2010 and quickly grew into one of the most popular sessions at IRE’s annual data journalism conference. We now open a large room so that nearly all conference attendees can hear the talks.

The pitch form is open until Feb. 7. After that, members will be able to vote for their favorite ideas, and the 10 talks with the most votes will earn slots at the conference in New Orleans. 

All conference attendees can pitch ideas, and we especially encourage women, journalists of color, those from smaller newsrooms and other underrepresented groups to submit talks. (If you’ve given a talk in recent years, we encourage you to take a year off to allow for new voices.)

Pitching and voting will be anonymous again this year. In years past, a pitch would be displayed alongside the person who submitted it. Last year we saw that anonymity encouraged a more diverse group of people to submit pitches and bring more focus to the content of the talk in the voting process.

What makes a good Lightning Talks pitch? In the spirit of IRE’s conferences, try to focus on teaching your fellow journalists a practical skill. Think of something you wish you had known when you started a project or a particular tool that helped you overcome a challenge.

The talks don’t have to be in-depth or super-advanced — remember you’ll only have five minutes, and yes, you will be timed!

If you have questions about Lightning Talks or the submission process, please contact Brittany Mayes at or Christine Zhang,

The 2020 Lightning Talks are sponsored by Knight Foundation.

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