Touching down in Denver was a sort of homecoming. After all, I had spent 10 weeks there over the summer interning at the Denver Post. Still, there was not much time to reminisce: Conferences are go, go, go all the time. I attended sessions daily, was inspired by keynote speakers, danced until my feet hated me, networked like my life depended on it, and learned a lot. Here are my five takeaways from the ONA Conference:
- Facebook is still red hot
ONA was all about Facebook (including having Facebook’s Fidji Simo delivering the first keynote speech). It was drilled into us that if you aren’t doing Facebook Live, the newest live streaming video directly to your timeline, you need to start! At a panel with CNN, they explained that they use Facebook Live to take their viewers into the experience with them and cited one journalist doing Facebook Live from the inside of a volcano.
- Fact check, fact check, fact check (even if that means you aren’t first)
In the age of digital, where speed matters and people want thing “right now”, accuracy matters more than ever.
- Show sources you’re there and care even when you don’t need anything
During NBC’s panel on breaking through stereotypes while reporting, NBC’s Pulitzer Prize winning National Reporter Trymaine Lee told us that if we want to report on a community, it is imperative that we are there even when we don’t need something. I think we can implement this at the Beacon by being better at stopping by administrators’ offices even when we aren’t reporting on a story and building up that rapport.
- Networking comes in many forms…including dancing
Take advantage of every opportunity to network, even when that means networking on the dance floor at an ONA sponsored event. Some of the most fun times I had at ONA were dancing with my peers and people I had met during the Knight Foundation Party. It doesn’t have to be all serious all the time. Loosening up (in an appropriate way) is a must in an industry where sometimes you are the to break difficult or disturbing news.
- Circle back and cool opportunities may come up
By far, the best part of ONA is the networking. I reconnected with people I met at ONA last year and my NABJ mentors and friends. I sat down with several people from ESPN and The Undefeated to talk more specifically about my career goals in sports. From those meetings, I have gotten possible freelance opportunities and opportunities with ESPN. NEVER underestimate the power of networking and where it can take you.