Despite widespread industry layoffs and the closures plaguing many media outlets, 575 journalists, writers and students gathered in Boston over the weekend for Harvard University’s annual Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism.

Numbers were down — last year the event attracted 850 attendees, meaning this year’s number of attendees was down by a third — but while the conference addressed the uncertain future of the media, speakers strove to stay upbeat. In addition to much discussion of business models, several themes emerged throughout the weekend:

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