Phil Griffin
Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC and Duke dad, gave a presentation on the revolution in media in the past 40 years. Photo by Bill Adair.

Journalism conferences can be pretty gloomy these days. With topics such as the rise of fake news, the decline in public trust and the plunge in ad revenue, the meetings can be downright depressing.

But this weekend’s 36 Hours at Duke was nicely upbeat. MSNBC President Phil Griffin, the kickoff speaker, summed it up by saying “this is the heyday of journalism.”

That theme was echoed by other speakers at the event, which brought together students, alumni and others working in the media.

Alums Daniel Carp of ESPN and Sanette Tanaka of Vox gave a presentation about the growing demand for product managers at media companies. Tyler Dukes, a data reporter for WRAL-TV and adjunct faculty member in our journalism program, spoke about the promise and peril of data analysis. Craig Whitlock, an investigative reporter for the Washington Post, explained his techniques for protecting his sources in the age of surveillance. Peter Elkins-Williams of Facebook discussed what his company was doing to help publishers.

Duke Tech & Check
Students Asa Royal (left) and Lucas Fagan did a demo of their automated “sniffer” that finds claims for fact-checkers to research. The project is part of the Tech & Check Cooperative in the Reporters’ Lab. Photo by Bill Adair.

Participants also got a progress report on the Tech & Check Cooperative, our new automated fact-checking project. Reporters’ Lab students Asa Royal and Lucas Fagan did an impressive demo of their new “sniffer” that helps fact-checkers find factual claims in transcripts of cable news programs.

The weekend conference was the first journalism-focused meeting in the prestigious 36 Hours series started by Prof. Tony Brown at the Sanford School of Public Policy. We matched 20 of our journalism students with 20 alumni so they could get to know each other and discuss mutual interests.

We heard great feedback from students and alums, so watch for another 36 Hours for Journalism next year. Below, check out what our student and alumni participants posted on social media about the event.