by Nancy Copic | @nancycopic
This was my first Online News Association conference, so neither my students nor I knew what to expect besides a great setting. (Hello, Chicago!) With the exception of a few local, one-day SPJ conferences, all other conventions I’d attended with Beacon staffers were for college journalists only.
At ONA, we were at the ‘adults’ table,’ though many of the attendees (and panelists) were not much older than Kelsey and Lydia. For instance…
Digital Millennials Take Center Stage
This panel featured:
- Aaron Williams, a news apps developer for the Center for Investigative Reporting
- Anika Anand, director of engagement for Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization that covers education
- Beatrice Katcher, graduate student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism working on a project to get children more interested in news.
Advice to young journalists from Aaron: “Learn math. Please.”
Anika on getting your stories out there, engaging readers: “Send your story to everyone you talked to in your story.” Also get people/groups who care about your story to post/share it on their social media, and look at journalism “with a fresh pair of eyes.”
Lady Leaders Lightning Talks
This powerhouse of a panel featured:
- Meredith Artley, Vice President and Managing Editor of CNN Digital
- Vivian Schiller*, Head of News Partnerships at Twitter (*She “stepped down” from that position Oct. 8)
- Liz Heron, Facebook News Partnerships Lead
- Anna Holmes, editor of Digital Voices at Fusion and founder of Jezebel
- Anne Marie Lipinski, Curator for the Nieman Foundation and former Editor in Chief of the Chicago Tribune
- Susan Smith Richardson, Editor & Publisher of The Chicago Reporter
- Callie Schweitzer, Director of Digital Innovation, Time
- Benet Wilson, Social Media/Newsletters Editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assoc.
One by one, panelists shared lessons they learned, often the hard way, and “best advice.”
“It’s OK to say no.” – Holmes
Lipinski, on the other hand, said she had to train herself “to say yes” because when she was offered promotions, her initial reaction was that she wasn’t equipped to do the job. She also advocated that managers openly acknowledge both personal and professional passions (her family and journalism, in her case) because it “can humanize the leader.”
“If something scares you, it’s probably worth doing.” – Heron, who also said to “always negotiate,” something she learned after accepting her first job and realizing she had undersold herself.
“Expect resistance.” – Richardson
“It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” – Wilson
All Eyes On Ferguson, Mo.
This could not have been more timely. As this panel of reporters spoke about their experiences covering the anguish and racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo. following the police shooting of Michael Brown, confrontations flared up once more between citizens and police.
“There are so many stories like this across the country,” Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery said. “The story, frankly, isn’t about Michael Brown anymore. This is a deeper story.”
(In mid-August, Lowery unwittingly became part of the story when Ferguson police arrested him and Ryan Reilly, a reporter for the Huffington Post.)
ONA produced a follow-up video with all of the panelists, who appear in the following order:
Going Mobile: Best Practices for Staff and Students
This was probably the most relevant session for me as a college media adviser, and the timing was perfect: We’re about to launch The Beacon mobile app.
Mike Reilly, who teaches online journalism at Depaul University inspired me with a site his classes collaborate on, The Red Line Project . It incorporates a lot of data visualizations, including Chicago homicides, an interactive map with local restaurant inspections, and the ChicagoStumbler, a beginning journalism class Tumblr mapping the city’s worst sidewalks.
My takeaway: Datawrapper is my new favorite digital tool.
The University of Oregon’s J-school was also well represented on this panel. Ass’t Prof. Ed Madison presented on OR Magazine, a slick, interactive iPad publication students produce in a class. I was intrigued with the workflow, which is more collaborative than assembly line style. Designers go out in the field with reporters and photographers, so it’s a team effort from the start. They also use social media extensively to create buzz around the stories.
UO’s Mark Blaine spoke about going beyond he-said-she-said journalism with the Climate Change Reporting Project. His key advice for digital projects: “Always use the simplest tool for the job.”
My takeaway: In pursuing projects like this, (or hiring for The Beacon), identify students who are highly motivated. Value ambition over skills.
This Storify has a lot more on this valuable session.
One of the more interesting displays here was Gannett’s Oculus Rift booth. The Des Moines Register experimented with the virtual reality technology in a September interactive series called “Harvest of Change.” The headgear’s a bit clunky, but it was intriguing to consider the possible journalistic uses of virtually being on the scene of a story and getting more engaged with it as a result.
Start up your newsroom: Building your culture, your team and your products
Topically, the conversation went all over the place.
“Make sure we have one set objective…Having that clarity of mind allows you to move much faster.” – Bell on focus
“Do whatever you can to make people feel welcome.”- Bell on diversity in the workplace
“Are we surfacing new information? Are we tapping voices we haven’t heard from?”- Setrakian on adopting “a beat that fell off the news desk.”
“I hate bosses. I didn’t want to have to work for anybody.” -Swisher
And there was so much more…
Amy Webb’s Top Ten Tech Trends in Journalism , the
Kelsey and Lydia’s Top Five Takeaways from #ONA14
1. Mobile mobile mobile. Consumers usually won’t come to our website; importance of going to them.