One year on from the first New Story in Morgantown in the summer of 2016, and I’ll admit to you that, as its creator, I’m still not entirely sure what we have on our hands here.

It’s a beast with many heads, no doubt. And I love it.

It’s over-ambitious, crowded, unfocused, ungainly, low-budget, proud, argumentative and quick to raise its fists.

It’s a conference for people who hate conferences. No handouts, no powerpoint presentations, no standing in a line for your buffet lunch, no interstate hotel chain conference rooms.

Instead, tunes, films, completely unscripted discussions, beers, demos, adoring applause. Glimpses of a bright future.

Most importantly, we tolerate no division between presenter and audience. Everyone who shows up is expected to contribute. The tagline of New Story 17 is “You Are Not a Spectator.”

The idea that launched the first New Story was simple enough: take a handful of people that were doing innovative and interesting things in West Virginia in the area of journalism and DIY media, and put them in a room with anyone who was interested in learning from them, being inspired and starting new things themselves.

But then things got out of hand. About six-times as many people showed up as we were expecting. They came from everywhere. We were completely overawed. We were the dog that caught the bus.

After New Story 1, I guess we had two options – get out while we were ahead, or double down.

In for a penny, in for a pound, as my dear old mum used to say. And so here we are.

We soon realized that when you start scratching the surface of brave and creative West Virginians doing good stuff, one guerilla hero leads to seven more. It’s like a barrel of monkeys.

There are innovative people doing extraordinary things here. And they have complete disregard for the preconceived notions and stereotypes about who and what is happening in West Virginia.

So we doubled down again, and built a New Story that is bigger, broader and more inclusive.

If you’re the type that only feels comfortable if you have a clear and simple understanding of what you’re walking into, then New Story might not be for you.

But in the interests of breaking it down for you, here’s a list of the sessions:

 

FRIDAY, JUNE 16

Unveiling the New West Virginia Online News Association

Data Visualization for Journalists

How to Start Your Own Festival

How Newsrooms Can Use Facebook Live

The Huntington Party Effect – How this rebounding city is using arts, music and culture as an economic development strategy.

The Pittsburgh Session – Meet the minds behind Create PGH and many of the city’s coolest and most engaging creative spaces and maker initiatives.

Meet the Makers of OSAY.co – a new digital tool turning social media into targetted political advocacy.

100 Days Later – What does the American media really want to know about Appalachia?

Introducing Eastern Kentucky’s Next Generation of Digital Storytellers

Stealing Back The Brand of Appalachian Food

An Exhibition of Photos By Some of Appalachia’s Best Photographers.

The Poster Art of Huntington’s Incomparable Jimbo Valentine

The New Story Knees Up – an early evening happy hour sponsored by Chestnut Brew Works, Pubstomper, Big Timber Brewing and Generation Morgantown.

 

SATURDAY, JUNE 17

Pump Up The Volume – Local independent radio, by WTSQ Charleston

Introducing Mountain Tech Media – a new model of media startup

How The Wolpertinger Reinvented Nonprofit Storytelling

L.I.O.N. Publishers Explore The Best New Local, Independent and Online Media Outlets

Photographer Rebecca Drobis Presents Her Work From The Blackfeet Reservation of Montana

Women Who Run For Office

How To Start Your Own Micro-Cinema.

The Nuts and Bolts of Video Logging (Vlogging)

The Resurgence of Elk City

Highland Outdoors and The New Gang of West Virginia’s Adventure Filmmakers and Photographers

 

New Story is free, thanks to generous support of all our mates, not least of which are the excellent folks at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media.

The message of New Story is that if you are smart, ambitious, creative and eager to build something new, there is a whole community of people here ready to help you.

To register, and learn more about the lineup of sessions and participants, visit: New Story.

Photo by David Smith