Nuclear Weapons

New twists on old nukes

March 2019

Journalists and nuclear experts spark new connections in DC over cocktails, lightning talks, and ping-pong.

A journalist, a nuclear expert, and a robot walk into a bar…

And while a clever punchline didn’t follow, this describes the scene of a cocktail hour that the Stanley Center hosted in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2019. Around 20 national and international security journalists and nuclear experts gathered at SPIN, a ping pong-themed bar, to chat about how technology is changing the conversation on nuclear weapons policy. This informal mixer created an opportunity for journalists and nuclear policy experts to build relationships and exchange information and ideas.

The happy hour coincided with the first day of the Carnegie Endowment’s International Nuclear Policy Conference (aka #NukeFest), which convened hundreds of experts, academics, and officials from around the world for two days of nuclear policy-focused discussions.

 

Aside from ping pong, what happened?

The cocktail hour featured three lightning rounds of 5-minute talks followed by a brief Q&A session. Three engaging speakers—Jenny Town from 38 North/Stimson Center, Laicie Heeley from Inkstick Media, and Sharon Weinberger from Yahoo News—each presented their own twist on how the conversation on nuclear policy is changing due to technology innovation and disruption.

These quick talks were meant to spark fresh thinking among journalists and experts alike about what’s exciting, worrying, or under-reported at the intersection of nuclear weapons policy and emerging technologies.

Yeah, but why?

Fundamental to quality reporting on nuclear weapons issues is the need for strong and reliable sources, timely information, and opportunities for questions and new challenges to be explored. Creating space for these conversations­­­-outside the context of a specific story on deadline-fosters stronger networks and more sustained attention to these issues.

Bottom line: if you put smart and curious people together in a bar, throw in a little ping pong and a theme, the conversation is good as gold.