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Analyzing Your Map

A key part of seeing your newsroom as a system is not just recognizing complexity, but being able to understand and engage with that complexity. One way of doing this is through S-A-T analysis, which comes from peacebuilding work. In using this method, participants will be able to shine a light on the various levels their topics exist within.



25 - 45 minutes

Materials + set-up


Sticky notes, sharpies, and your system map

Here's what you need to get started




Analyzing Your Map

Set the stage


With your group, take a few minutes to familiarize yourselves with the SAT method.


This theory of change explains that any response to a system should exist across all three levels (S, A, and T) in order to be the most effective and sustainable. The S, A, and T mean:

Structural forces are our natural or built environments, institutions, and infrastructure (like, the physical layout of your

office, the beat structure, or top-down hierarchies)

Attitudinal forces are the attitudes, world views, assumptions, and beliefs that affect how people think and behave (such as feelings

of job security, desire to collaborate, or feelings of isolation)

Transactional forces are the key interactions that take place between stakeholders in the system (like, daily meetings that happen

(or don't), or the strength of communication between coworkers)


Labeling SAT


As a group, identify if each force or set of forces is structural, attitudinal, or transactional. Sometimes, forces will fall into multiple categories, so it’s useful to talk through how you’re thinking about each force and determine where it most strongly belongs. 


For instance, the force “diversity of staff” could be considered a structural force (the internal processes for hiring or structural racism and inequity) or a transactional force (the actual hiring and promoting of diverse individuals). If you need to create more sticky notes to clarify what you mean, feel free to do so.


Label each sticky note with an S, A, or T. If you notice that one category has less than the others, think about what forces might be missing and add to that area.

Group discussion


The process of labeling your forces can be helpful in and of itself. Here are some questions you should discuss with your group to help deeper analyze your map:

  • Which of the SAT categories surfaced the most?

   Least often? And what does that say about the

   way the newsroom functions?

  • How can you use the SAT model to analyze existing processes in your newsroom?

  • What could an intervention look like that helps

   you reach your goals and crosses all three


Take a few minutes to pair with a partner and answer these questions. Return to the full group and share what you talked about.

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