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How to turn Private Conversations into Public Resources through Community Consent

“So much of our work as journalists can benefit from having a consent-based, trust-building process to turn off-the-record conversations into public, shareable resources. We have private conversations all the time, because it’s a good way for us as humans to be honest and vulnerable with each other. We have these conversations in pursuit of good journalism (ex: relationship-building with sources, building trust with communities) just as we have them in pursuit of a better journalism industry (ex: at events, in Slacks). Many times, it is only because a conversation was off the record, that we are able to learn the most — and after learning it, we realize that the broader community could benefit from learning it too. So how do we share knowledge from conversations we all agreed would be private, in a way that builds more trust instead of tearing it down? This guide shares one possible process. This public resource was written and compiled by Sisi Wei, and edited by Amanda Hickman, Lizzy Hazeltine, and Kat Duncan. It is based on the process developed by Sisi, Amanda, and Lizzy in the DEI Coalition to publish two public resources based on private conversations between members, all while honoring the Coalition’s shared community agreements and values and default off-the-record nature. You can also read the companion piece to this guide, “Telling people before you begin builds trust. Telling people only after you’re done erodes it.” which digs further into what it means to build trust through this process, and the tensions we grapple with and need to acknowledge along the way.”

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