Archive for the ‘Online News Association’ Category

Last week, a couple of The Beacon staff and I attended the Online News Association (ONA) Conference held in Washington D.C.

My first time in the nation’s capital was unforgettable. Not only was I on the same rooftop at the Watergate Hotel as Carl Bernstein, but everything was absolutely a learning experience.



A quick pose at the Watergate Hotel before we unexpectedly saw Carl Bernstein.


The first day of conference kicked off with a “first-timer’s” orientation. It was the first networking event, and the room was filled with enlightening conversations.

ONA featured some of the brightest minds in digital journalism. The keynote speakers were outstanding and inspiring.

The opening keynote, entitled “Trust, Truth and Questions for the Media,” was a panel moderated by Brian Stelter of CNN featuring Nikole-Hannah Jones of The New York Times, Michelle Holmes of Alabama Media Group, Asma Khalid of WBUR, Elle Reeve of Vice News Tonight and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.



Opening Keynote Panelists


7 things I learned from them:

  1. Journalists must represent the powerless.
  2. Journalists should create a deep understanding of the underrepresented communities and listen to deep conversations.
  3. There is a fine line between neutrality and objectivity. We should not be seduced by neutrality.
  4. Use social media to search for stories coming from underrepresented communities.
  5. We need to stop covering the same communities, same people all the time.
  6. Report with racial lens and learn to establish trust.
  7. We need to focus on stories that do not involve the Trump administration.

“There are so many inequality and segregation issues out there that did not root from the president,” Jones said. “It has always been there. He just made these issues transparent.”



David Fahrentold of The Washington Post and I


One session featured the famous David Fahrentold, an investigative reporter with The Washington Post who is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

5 tips for expert interviewing (Fahrentold Edition):

  1. If people lie, let them tell the whole lie first then jump in and walk them through the lie.
  2. Social media is a tool for crowdsourcing. For example, you can use Twitter to gather information.
  3. Store all the information you can find, so when you need it again, you can go back and check again.
  4. Organize your notes! It will be useful in the future.
  5. When you walk into interviews, you have to completely be prepared and knowledgeable with information.



More with the Washington Post


Another thing that journalists should be mindful of is that trust requires:

  • A way for the public to be heard.
  • A way for the newsroom to listen.

We must build relationships and check in with them consistently. Don’t just reappear when you need something.

One session was a talk led by quantitative futurist, Amy Webb. By closely examing fundamental shifts in human behavior or trends, she was able to point out what is in store for the future of journalism.

We also attended networking events hosted by Facebook and the Knight Foundation, TEGNA, The Washington Post and Google.



From left to right: News Managin Editor Olivia Sanchez, Me (Senior Reporter/Multimedia Producer), The Beacon Advisor Nancy Copic and Editor-in-Chief Rachel Rippetoe


The final keynote address featured a satiric panel entitled “When Satire Is The Most Effective Political Coverage.” The speakers were Francesca Fiorentini of AJ+, Matt Negrin of The Daily Show, Melinda Taub of Full Frontal and were moderated by Versha Sharma of NowThis.

And while my body demanded for coffee every hour (Thank you, Google for the free coffee), I had an amazing time at #ONA17. My mind is currently filled with story ideas, and I cannot wait for next year’s conference in Austin, TX.

-Rachel Ramirez

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There is innovative, rich journalism happening on digital sites. Examples:  “The Counted Project” by Guardian U.S.;  the Online Journalism Awards winners including OPB’s coverage of the Oregon Standoff in Malheur County.

Publishers are dependent on Facebook in a big way to get their content out there, for better or worse. Also, Facebook Live video might be useful in increasing Beacon engagement/coverage.

Fidji Simo Director of Product, Facebook

Fidji Simo
Director of Product, Facebook

From the data analysts at Chartbeat:

Facebook traffic peaks at 10 p.m. Is there a mismatch between when we are posting and when users are on Facebook?

Emotion drives social shares.

Stories popular in Google search are information-driven. People search for specific topics of interest to them.

Affirmation of the importance of  The Beacon staying UP-centric: Websites that stay true to their mission (their “niche”) have the most loyal audiences.


“We are in a post-broadcast world.” – Ashley Codianni, Director of Social Media for CNN. Customize to platforms. At CNN, social is considered part of the process, not an afterthought.

“Reimagining what content is for every platform.”

In this election season: “Make sure your social media feeds are fact-checking candidates.”


Cheyenne Schoen, Claire Duffy, Nancy Copic, Malika Andrews, Ben Arthur


There are jobs out there for sharp college graduates with digital and journalism skills and experience via student media and/or internships.

ONA job board

ONA job board


Tools and strategies working with a staff that can’t be in the same room: This session was practically a love letter to Slack. One piece of advice that resonated with me, the same advice I give students: Don’t have difficult/emotional conversations via text messaging.


Nancy Copic, Ben Arthur, Cheyenne Schoen, Malika Andrews, Clare Duffy

You cannot overestimate the value of giving ambitious students the opportunity to learn and network with professionals.



-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media

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By Ben Arthur |

-One of the most dominant themes at the entire conference is how both print newsrooms and TV stations are effectively (And ineffectively, for that matter) transitioning into the digital age. We have to get use to this fact. Digital is where the ship is going
– Think to yourself, “How can my written stories be told with graphics, video, audio and text all at once?”
– For you sports geeks out there, looking at how Bleacher Report operates. A sports reporter from the Denver Post told me to pay close attention to how they operate. They’ve developed a stellar online presence with Interactive social media, breaking news on their website, a magazine section, and video content. This is how we have to start thinking in this day and age!
– Figuring out ways to tell and tease your stories on every major social media (FB, Twitter, IG, snapchat etc.)
– Utilizing Facebook Live
– audio/radio has traditionally been an intimidate medium; Using audio podcasts to tell stories (debating and human interest stories translate well)
– Video podcasts: short, informative, shows off your personality (People eat that up)
– Interactive graphics
– Reporters: no longer acceptable to just be able to write. Learn how to shoot, edit video, get in front of the camera
-Journalism jobs are going to be vastly difference because of technology just 5 years from now
– Journalism in the next 5-10 years will feature augmented & virtual reality, 360 degree video
– Look at some of the most popular apps & other hot technology and ask yourself, “How can this same concept be applied to journalism?”

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ONA16 Perks: Exclusive access to the Denver Press Club. Photo by: Nancy Copic.

By Clare Duffy |

Conferences are a whirlwind – there is learning, there is networking, and there is a marked lack of sleeping. This was my second ONA conference, and while I pretty much never stop thinking about The Beacon, there was an additional thing on my mind this year: My post-grad life in journalism.

This was a simultaneously thrilling and frightening subject to meditate on, but ONA16 was yet another reminder that there are many options for what my place in the journalism industry could look like, and that the journalism industry is the same exciting, inspiring, innovative field I’ve always loved.

Here are my biggest take-aways from the week:

  • “Doing Digital” can be a job in and of itself. I’ve always had this idea that if you work on the digital end of things, you’ll be “doing digital” for a print publication or a broadcast station, basically just pushing their content out online. However, I met so many people whose job is to create content and break news solely for online or on social – and it works so much better when it’s native to the platform. A good reminder for The Beacon and for life.
  • As we work to report more and more about issues of diversity on campus, one thing I was reminded of at the “Telling Diverse Stories” panel lead by MSNBC/NBC journalists (including Trymaine Lee, who was arrested in Ferguson while reporting), is that it is important to fact check and “sensitivity check” your stories about diverse communities with a member of that community, even if there is not a representative in your newsroom. However, it is important to avoid having a “token” representative from a community that you always rely on, silencing other voices.
  • An interesting note from this session, too, was this fact from a Gallup poll last week: “Trust in mainstream media is the lowest it has ever been.” I think this must motivate us to continue telling the stories that matter, getting into the communities we’re reporting on, and using data and authoritative facts to back up the human side of stories.
  • A reminder for breaking stories in the age of digital: When you update a breaking story on the same breaking page, re-tease it and change the headline to reflect the new news and make sure your readers are going back for the most current info.
  • Facebook Live! I have never heard the words “Facebook Live” so many times in a 72-hour period. Journalists are REALLY into Facebook Live right now, so it’s a tool I’ll be looking to learn how to use well ASAP. CNN’s Social Media manager suggests using Facebook Live to take people inside somewhere they wouldn’t normally get to go, to make them feel like they’re really there (for example: inside a volcano in Indonesia – that was a real thing).

The first keynote was a talk with the Head of Product with Facebook, who spoke about opportunities for journalists to monetize on Facebook.

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ONA16 Beacon crew.


On reporting…

  • Use analytics to your advantage. Social media is a huge source of traction to news websites. Use data from Google Analytics to determine the most strategic way to bring in readers. Use analytics to see where most traffic is coming from. Tailor each social media post to that specific channel. Facebook posts are going to look different than Twitter posts, etc.
  • Appeal to your readers’ sense of empathy. Fidji Simo, the director of product at Facebook, talked about how consumers want to see the news that they can feel personally connected to. Facebook Live is one way to achieve this. The best part? Anyone with a smartphone can do it.
  • Report with a community, not on it. Know your readers and their interests and incorporate them into the coverage. User engagement is important and will make users more loyal to your source if they feel like their opinion matters.
  • Acknowledge your blind spots. Every reporter carries with them their own biases and identities. According to panelists from “Latinos and the 2016 Election: Reporting on Communities Regardless of Your Background,” diversifying coverage is essential to sharing the voices and opinions of those who might otherwise be overlooked. It is important to recognize that your coverage has blind spots and to listen to the needs of the minorities in the community to try and make up for those blind areas of coverage.

On networking…

  • Follow-up. After you meet someone it is important to follow-up with them. It’s polite to say thank you, and it also leaves an impression that is more lasting than a handshake. You can send a handwritten card (best) but an email works as well.
  • Play the “student card.” Professionals like talking to students. We’re young, willing to learn and are (sometimes) impressionable. But most of all, people love talking about their work. This means that people will love to talk to you all about their jobs and might even try to get you on-board with them.
  • Loosen up. A lot of professionals are just like grown-up versions of us. They party, dance and eat enchiladas. Yes, be professional; but don’t get so focused on a firm handshake that you forget to have fun.

 Other cool tips:


You can create Chat Bots to answer questions for your readers. For example,  a bot that answers basic questions about the election could supplement a story about the election to answer additional questions readers might have.


According to Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, journalists of the future will be heavily involved in using digital tools and data to design interactive interfaces. I disagree that reporters’ jobs will be obsolete, but I understand that a lot of the work reporters do now could be done by bots in the near-future.


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2015-09-24 08.30.13

by Nancy Copic, Assistant Director of Student Media and adviser to The Beacon

2015-09-25 08.09.49

Clare Duffy, Katie Dunn, Malika Andrews, Nancy Copic

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”

Sarah Jeong of Motherboard, Amanda Hess of Slate, Soraya Chemaly of The Women's Media Center, Michelle Ferrier of Ohio University and Laurie Penny, freelance journalist and author and Nieman Fellow

Sarah Jeong of Motherboard, Amanda Hess of Slate, Soraya Chemaly of The Women’s Media Center, Michelle Ferrier of Ohio University and Laurie Penny, freelance journalist and author and Nieman Fellow

“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”

2015-09-26 12.10.02

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.

2015-09-26 11.32.02

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”

2015-09-26 14.59.13

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.


2015-09-24 16.22.36

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.

2015-09-25 20.55.40

BONUS:  Audio of all recorded ONA15 sessions

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Clare Duffy, Nancy Copic, Malika Andrews, Katie Dunn

by Katie Dunn |

In light of the recent news of The Beacon going all-digital next year, attending the Online News Association conference in Los Angeles was incredibly useful and timely. I had known for about a month about the change before we went to the conference so I knew some things I wanted to learn. I learned those things and more over the few days I was there.

It wasn’t crucial that I knew about the change before the conference, it is the online news conference after all, but it did give me time to have questions I wanted to find answers to. One of those things was, ‘how can we make webpages more engaging for readers?’ I went to many design-focused sessions, but the best one was, Interactive Graphics for the Newsroom Couch Potato. I will openly admit I am not a tech guru when it comes to programing and working on the back end of websites. This session felt like something that would appeal to the average journalist that isn’t tech savvy either. If you want to browse the presentation I saw, here’s the link.

Here’s a few key programs I learned about:

  • Charts
    • Chartbuilder- Static and simple
    • Datawrapper
    • Silk
  • Maps
    • Mapbox
    • Cartodb
  • Sound
    • Soundcite JS- Add in text with Soundcloud
  • Timeline JS
  • Tarbell- beautiful, interactive pages
  • More heavyweight tools:
    • d3.js- charts
    • Mapzen- Metro extracts for a city
    • Landline- Maps of the U.S.
  • Colors
    • Wes Anderson Paletts on Tumblr
    • Color Brewer

I also learned about Tableua, a desktop chart making program that I heard about from the Midway area. I downloaded it for free because I’m a student and played around a little making a chart for our College Scorecard story. The best part of using this was the fact I could go back to the Midway the next day and ask questions directly to someone. This program is great, although hard to use with multiple data sets.IMG_5002

I had some fun on the Midway, getting a cartoon of me drawn in about five minutes. Really amazing to me since I have never been much of an artist.

The one session I went to that probably had no real relevance to The Beacon was the Sprinkling Pixie Dust on Immersive Events. It was put on by Disney’s parade creator. I have always had a passion for Disney and knew I wanted to go to this session as soon as I saw it. Steve the presenter said that he does what he does because he just wants to show the magic of Disney. He showed how they plan every part of the parades and shows, pretty much having no limitations on how big he could go.

On Saturday, my mom and I went to Disney and I made a point of standing on Main Street to watch the fireworks show. It was so magical and the coolest show I have ever seen.

I’m so glad I was able to go to the conference, network and meet professionals in the business as well as a few other students that attended. Online is the present and the future, which is really inspiring and exciting.

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