by Nancy Copic, Assistant Director of Student Media and adviser to The Beacon
I came back from the Online News Association conference with almost 22 pages of notes, a head spinning with ideas and possibilities and a slightly pink nose from the Los Angeles sunshine. Suffice to say that Clare, Malika, Katie and I flew home with a bigger digital toolbox than we had when we arrived.I’ll refer to my notes multiple times, no doubt, in the months ahead as The Beacon prepares to go all-digital. For now, here are takeaways from some of my favorite presentations:
“50 Apps in 30 minutes (+ 30 minutes of Other Cool Stuff)”
David Ho, Executive Mobile Editor of The Wall Street Journal presented a rapid-fire rundown of practical tools for using a smartphone for reporting. Some of my favorites:
- Dragon Dictation- transcribes audio as it records
- Life 360 Family Locator-create a group and create a GPS “fence” around them to keep track of everyone. Useful in group reporting situations.
- Promptware- turns your phone into a teleprompter
- Speaking photo- Tape audio while taking your photo
- Tagg.ly- puts watermarks on photos before you put them on social media
- Banjo- lets you see what people are talking about on social media within a specified geographic location
- PDF-it- all- Converts other formats into PDF
- 5-0 Police Scanner – Listen to police scanners from all over the world on your phone
- Cam Scanner – Use your phone to scan documents
- Wickr – send encripted messages that are destroyed once read
- Plane Finder AR (augmented reality) – Locates, identifies planes in the air within a 50-mile radius
- Marine Tracker – tracks ships at sea
- Reporters Committee First Aid Kit (and other apps) -quick answers to issues that may come up while out in the field, such as legal issues
Other tips from David:
Use a wireless keyboard for your phone and “ditch your laptop.” He recommends Amazon Basics Blue Tooth ($26)
Use an Iographer to keep phone steady for photos, video.
Recommended battery pack for iPhone: PowerGen Mobile Juice Pack
David ended the session with a timeless reminder that the meaningful and constructive impact of the tools (and all technology) depends on the intention of the human using them.
This from Edward R. Murrow in 1958 about the “new” invention, television.
Want to hear David for yourself? Listen to the session:
“We Belong Here:Pushing Back Against Online Harassment”
“A woman’s opinion is the short skirt of the Internet.” -Laurie Penny
I’m not sure what was more disturbing about this keynote panel: details of abuse targeting women, especially journalists, online or the fact that the conference auditorium was not at capacity, as it was with the other keynotes.
The professionals on this panel each spoke of the verbal abuse (including rape and death threats) that women who speak their mind are forced to endure and the long-term effects not just on the woman’s psyche, but on her digital reputation.
Video of the full panel discussion here.
Further comments from Laurie Penny and Michelle Ferrier below.
“Product Managing Your Newsletter”
Buzzfeed writer Millie Tran and Greg Galant, CEO and Co-founder of Muck Rack led this session about producing a successful email newsletter, something I hope to see The Beacon take on as we go all-digital. Judging by attendance, I’m not the only one eager to learn more about this.
Newsletters not only direct audience to your online content, they are “brand-building.”
A few tips:
- The newsletter should be a product in itself. It needs to be for a specific core audience.
- Subject lines are so important. If people don’t open the email, they never see your newsletter.
- The newsletter content should include a trending (“watercooler”) item.
- Guiding question for content: What is the simplest, most atomic unit of what your audience needs to know?
- Define your audience. Use “smart filters.”
- Answer the questions your audience has.
- Newsletter should make the reader feel the writer is talking right to them.
- Promote your newsletter on your website.
- Always be experimenting.
- Establish metrics. (Look at growth of newsletter and retention rate and how many recipients are actually opening the email.)
- Re:monetizing newsletter- Sponsorships
- Have sign-up buttons on all of the news pages
- Make a Twitter card
“A Hollywood Spotlight’ on Award-Winning Boston Globe Investigation”
This was one of the most powerful keynotes I’ve ever attended: a discussion with the Boston Globe team that won a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for its groundbreaking investigation into the prevalence of child sex abuse by Boston priests for decades and the Archdiocese’s practice of quietly moving perpetrators to other parishes.
That series of reports reverberated well beyond Boston and resulted in revelation of similar abuses and coverups across the country and around the world. More importantly, it led to more accountability and compensation for some victims, although some argue the Church should do more to hold perpetrators accountable.
Now the subject of a movie (“Spotlight”) that’s already generating Oscar buzz, the investigation and the shakeout it triggered is a story about triumphant old-fashioned (and unglamorous) “shoe leather” reporting.
Interspersed with recollections from the Boston Globe team (Walter V. Robinson, Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll) were film clips from the movie, scheduled for release Nov. 6.
The ONA15 student newsroom produced an excellent video that encapsulates the discussion we heard.
Of course, a big part of the ONA conference is networking. For me, as adviser, it was especially gratifying to see Malika, Clare and Katie make connections with some of the best in the business.