March 28-29, 2024 at McClatchy Hall, Stanford University

The Story Discovery at Scale conference brings together an emerging cohort of thought leaders and practitioners in the fields of computation and journalism to address challenges and explore potential collaborative work.

The second year of this conclave – hosted by Big Local News at Stanford University, and sponsored by the Knight Foundation – is designed to foster conversation and the sharing of new ventures. The goal is to develop specific next steps in building a sustainable infrastructure for local news.

As part of the conference, you will have opportunities to share your projects and areas of interest. Researchers and computational journalists will present some of the latest techniques for story discovery in the news. There will be deep dives into key areas: automation, generative AI tools for data extraction, processing video and audio in smarter ways, product development, and more. Have an idea, let us know!

We look forward to seeing you soon.


Day One – Thursday, March 28

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Welcome, breakfast, and introductions

10:00 – 10:45 a.m.

Exploring the possibilities

Learn more about the DART (Data, Algorithms, Recipes & Tools) Matrix - what it is and how it can help.

  • Marc Lavallee – Knight Foundation
  • Cheryl Phillips – Big Local News

11:00 – Noon

Project Share – In flight or finished

Attendees will have 5 minutes in a lighting-talk style session to present their own projects, with an eye toward surfacing potential areas for collaboration. The focus here will be on projects that are well under way or are complete.

  • Serdar Tumgoren – Big Local News

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch (provided) and project working group selections

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Expert Share: Simon Willison - Using AI for journalism

  • Simon Willison – creator of Datasette and other tools for journalists.

2:30 – 3:20 p.m.

Defining the needs - panel

If we want to build a sustainable infrastructure for local journalism, the projects we spend time on -- in the newsroom and for the newsroom -- need to solve real problems. A panel discussion on how we can help remove the guesswork from needs-finding, from research to testing and iteration to just getting out there and listening to people and their day-to-day experiences.

  • Heather Bryant – Tiny News Collective
  • Candice Mays – Black Voice News
  • Annelise Pierce – Shasta Scout
  • Aron Pilhofer – Minneapolis Star-Tribune

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Topical breakout working groups

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.


Take some time to explore campus.

6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

A dinner buffet

Day Two – Friday, March 29

9:00 – 09:50 a.m.

An AI-powered product proposal

The Associated Press and a team from the University of Missouri journalism school will present a proposal to build an AI-powered product that makes data journalism accessible to newsrooms that are unable to retain a data journalist, while also providing new capabilities to newsrooms that have data journalists. The product envisions a nationwide network of contributing partners and leverages AP’s extensive membership base. The product would seek alignment with endeavors being conducted by other organizations including Big Local News. The proposal will fit into the DART framework being presented earlier in this conference.

Speakers for The Associated Press:
  • Ernest Kung
  • Troy Thibodeaux
Speakers for the University of Missouri:
  • Professor Randy Smith
  • Jonathan Allen
  • Caleb McDairmant
  • Reagan Wiles
  • Xiaoyi Zhang

10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

Project Share - Round 2: Blue Sky

We will hear about the blue-sky projects you're dreaming about and your wish lists for new tools and techniques to develop. Speakers will have 5 minutes to present their project work or early-stage ideas, with an eye toward surfacing potential areas for collaboration.

  • Eric Sagara – Big Local News

11:00 – Noon

Blue Sky/What’s Coming Next Conversation

A look into the future at gaps we should know about and data we can use to start future-proofing our projects.

  • Sarah Alvarez – Outlier Media
  • Jeremy Gilbert – Northwestern University

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch (provided)

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Lowering barriers - panel

How do we help people find the tools they need without even trying? How do we make sure the tools are easy to use even for non-technical folks? What does training & onboarding look like to help people use these tools?

  • Erika Kelly – KQED
  • Jacob Nelson – Wahkiakum County Eagle
  • Sona Patel – New York Times
  • Alana Rocha – Institute for Nonprofit News

2:30 – 3:20 p.m.

Topical breakout working groups

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Takeaways and next steps

  • Marc Lavallee - Knight Foundation
  • Cheryl Phillips – Big Local News
  • Working Group representatives

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.


Take some time to explore campus.

6:00 – 9:00 p.m.


Travel and lodging

Click here for information on airports and ground transportation to Stanford.

Free parking permits are available. Please fill out this form to request a permit.

Conference location

The conference will be held in Studio 40, located in the sub-basement of McClatchy Hall.

450 Jane Stanford Way
McClatchy Hall, Stanford
Room S40

Recommended hotels

Graduate Palo Alto 488 University Avenue Palo Alto, California 94301 650.843.9755 Website
Stanford Guest House 2575 Sand Hill Road Menlo Park, CA 94025 650.926.2800 Website
Cardinal Hotel 235 Hamilton Ave Palo Alto, CA 94301 650.323.5101 Website
Sheraton Palo Alto 625 El Camino Real Palo Alto, CA 94301 650.328.2800 Website
Park James Hotel – Menlo Park 1400 El Camino Real Menlo Park, CA 94025 650.304.3880 Website

Conference sponsors

Big Local News partners & supporters