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SXSW Day 1: Abortion, Prison Technology & More

Posted in Journalism, and SXSW

I’ve made it down to the Austin Convention Center for the first time at this year’s South By SouthWest, and I’m excited to kick off my coverage.

Today I am taking it slow — spent the morning wrapping up some work for MintPress News’ TV show, Behind The Headline, and allowed myself some extra time to ride my bike downtown because of the traffic apocalypse caused by SXSW’s first day and Barack Obama’s visit. It still only took me about 15 minutes, and I’m feeling pretty out of shape from the winter too!

Kit O'Connell takes a sweaty selfie in the Press Lounge of SXSW in the Austin Convention Center on Mar. 11, 2016. (Kit O'Connell)
Kit O’Connell takes a sweaty selfie in the Press Lounge of SXSW in the Austin Convention Center on Mar. 11, 2016. (Kit O’Connell)

In case you’re wondering, I’m not attending Obama’s keynote address because this is the kind of topic that will be amply covered by other journalists and in other outlets. If you want a sneak preview, check out the hashtag #POTUS. And yes, apparently Obama stopped at Torchy’s Tacos on the way here!

Instead, I’m about to attend my first panel of the event, on the “Prison Technology Boom.” The panelists are all ex-inmates who now operate tech businesses designed to help the incarcerated, including the founder of FlikShop, which is frequently used by the prison support activists I know.

Of course, prison tech more often perpetuates mass incarceration and takes money out of the pockets of poor prisoners’ families to profit private corporations, so I’m interested to see how these entrepreneurs address this in the panel. I’ll be writing about this panel for The Texas Observer.

I’m also planning to attend a screening of “Trapped,” a documentary about how abortion “TRAP” laws are shutting down clinics and eliminating access to reproductive healthcare across the U.S. Although I won’t be able to make the red carpet for this event, I’m supposed to get a 15 minute interview with the director and former state senator and gubenatorial candidate Wendy Davis (!) on Saturday. I’m covering this film for The Establishment.

And finally, later tonight I’m planning to attend a screening of “Night of the Slasher,” a unique short horror film shot in a single take! By chance, I connected with the lead actor and producer of the film, and we’re planning to talk more on Saturday, too. Look for coverage of this film right here on Approximately 8,000 Words.

I’ll be livetweeting as much as I can from the whole festival, so be sure to follow @KitOConnell. And, if you can, please donate to my SXSW coverage or share my crowdfunding campaign.

I appreciate all the donors so far, and hope you can help — even small donations add up fast!

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