Posts Tagged ‘ONA’


By Olivia Sanchez

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Rachel, Rachel & I at the Washington Post

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Olivia Sanchez, Rachel Ramriez, Nancy Copic and Rachel Rippetoe at the Facebook party at Newseum

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Look, the capitol!

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Facebook party at Newseum!

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MJ Bears fellows give early career advice

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Truth, trust and media panel

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The art of getting s*** done panel

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a map I found in the exhibition hall of places conference attendees have reported from and what they reported on!

#ONA17 was an amazing experience. It was so great to be around people who are doing what I want to do (and doing it well). I feel reinspired and and ready to fill out the millions of internship apps I have due within the next month! Here is some of what I learned!

My takeaways:

  1. Never let one source make or break your story. Do enough reporting that you can do your story even if a big source blows you off. Never be in a position where you’re relying on one person.
  2.  Be patient in interviewing. Stay even after you get a good quote. Wait for people to open up to you.
  3. Do ambitious journalism.
  4. Don’t tie your identity to your job.
  5. Go above and beyond. Always say yes in the newsroom. Always be willing to do more.

My favorite sessions and what I learned:

The Art of Getting S**t Done
This session was done in panel format, and featured Justin Ellis (ESPN), S. Mitra Kalita (CNN Digital), and Elena Bergeron (SB Nation).  The description on the conference app said the session was designed for “anyone who wants real-world advice on accomplishing their goals.” And, “this is meant to be a candid, real-world conversation about what it takes to move something to your “done” column.

This was one of my favorite sessions because the panelists were open and honest about what it is like to work, and succeed in this industry, and still be a person. Some major things I learned from this session include:

  • You need to be able to thrive on change
  • What are the ideas I’m most passionate about? Prioritize. Organize your life around these.
  • Celebrate even the small victories
  • Don’t waste people’s time
  • Have other things (besides your job) in your life that mean a lot to you. Spend time and energy on these regularly.
  • Eat healthy to be more productive!!
  • Send “atta boy” emails on Friday (shoutouts to coworkers), and your work week goals to your boss on Monday.
  • To be a successful leader, you need to ask for help. Ask for input. Understand the decisions you’re making and the impacts they will have on others

Trust, Truth and Questions for the Media

This was the keynote on the first day of the conference and it was by far one of the best sessions I attended. It was moderated by Brian Stelter (CNN) and featured panelists Michelle Homes (Alabama Media Group), Elle Reeve (Vice), Nikole Hannah-Jones (New York Times Magazine), Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks) and Asma Khalid (WBUR).

The main topic of this session was the role of the media in the current political climate. It was great because all the panelists came from different backgrounds and publications, and all brought different viewpoints to the session. By far my favorite was Nikole Hannah-Jones and the way she talked about diversity issues in the media. She focused on the the need to give voice to marginalized communities who are so often left out of the news narrative the is promoted by mainstream media. She also was adamant about the need for diversity in newsrooms, and how important it is that reporters look like the communities that they are covering.

Panelists also discussed the importance of getting to know the communities you cover, not just popping in and out, but staying and returning and making sure that you have the real, full story.

Interviewing advice from David Farenthold

This session was awesome. David is awesome. #goals

  • If the front door doesn’t open, start outside and work your way in.
  • Go into interviews knowing more than your source
  • Always be polite
  • If someone is going to lie to you, let them tell the whole lie first. Then gently unravel it
  • Don’t worry about being annoying. It’s your job to get all the information
  • Let your sources talk! Be OK with silence. Never finish their sentences.
  • Never leave yourself open to unverified information, even if it’s coming from good intentions




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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 Nancy Copic | @nancycopic

Beacon Opinions Editor Lydia Laythe, Adviser Nancy Copic and Beacon Editor in Chief Kelsey Thomas at Google's Chicago office during ONA14

Beacon Opinions Editor Lydia Laythe, Adviser Nancy Copic and Beacon Editor in Chief Kelsey Thomas at Google’s Chicago office during ONA14

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.

Chicago in September- ideal setting for ONA 14

Chicago in September- ideal setting for ONA 14


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.

My takeaways:

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.”

Meredith Artley, Anna Homes, Liz Heron, Ann Marie Lipinski, Susan Smith Richardson, Vivian Schiller, Callie Schweitzer, Benet Wilson

Meredith Artley, Anna Homes, Liz Heron, Ann Marie Lipinski, Susan Smith Richardson, Vivian Schiller, Callie Schweitzer, Benet Wilson

Lady Leaders Lightning Talks

This powerhouse of a panel featured:

One by one, panelists shared lessons they learned, often the hard way, and “best advice.”

Some nuggets:

“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


“Lady Leaders”
Power selfie

All Eyes On Ferguson, Mo.

Trymaine Lee of MSNBC

Trymaine Lee of MSNBC

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:

Claire Ward (Producer/Shooter Vice News) & David Carson (Photographer, St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Trymaine Lee (Reporter MSNBC) & Michel Martin (interviewer, NPR)

Wesley Lowery (Washington Post) & Mariah Stewart (freelancer covering Ferguson for Huffington Post and Beacon Reader)

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.

redline project

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.

OR magazine

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.

The Midway

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.

Lydia tries the Oculus Rift.

Lydia tries the Oculus Rift.

Start up your newsroom: Building your culture, your team and your products

I’m a big fan of  Vox, so it was fun to hear from Senior Project Manager/Executive Editor Melissa Bell. (“Have people enter a story from where they are.”)

She joined Re/Code’s Kara Swisher and Lara Setrakian, CEO of News Deeply and executive editor of Syria Deeply for a panel on startups.

Melissa Bell, Lara Setrakian, Kara Swisher

Topically, the conversation went all over the place.

Favorite quotes:

“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

Amy Webb’s Top Ten Tech Trends in Journalism , the

Deep Dive into The New York Times Innovation Report, of which much has already been written and

Kelsey and Lydia’s Top Five Takeaways from #ONA14

Lydia and Kelsey with the famed Chicago Tribune building as a backdrop

Lydia and Kelsey with the famed Chicago Tribune building as a backdrop


1. Mobile mobile mobile. Consumers usually won’t come to our website; importance of going to them.

2. On that same note, send stories to sources / anyone who might be interested or tag on social media. The more other people share your content, the more views you’ll get.
3. Consumer as center of focus – what are her motivations, behaviors? How can we meet that? How can we create experiences that work for the consumer?
4. Brief iPhone video advice: have to be SUPER close to subject to get good sound, alternate wide shots, medium shots, and close shots, don’t have subject look at camera
5. KNIGHT LAB RESOURCES: ❤ timelineJS, story map, audio tool
1. Get more diversity (in stories/voices/staff)
2. Read a story in multiple formats in various settings (to see how the user experience is different)
3. Send everyone you talk to for an article the finished piece (good relationships with sources)
4. Say “no” and say “yes” – “if something scares you it’s probably worth doing.” (know your limits but push yourself to do things outside your comfort zone)
5. Meet your audience where they are: instagram, cell phones, SNAPCHAT
(Nancy) From inspiration to reality…
There’s always a moment of truth, a bit of a comedown returning to campus after a conference like this. Inspiration! Ideas galore! So many cool things we could and will do! This week!
The challenge: incorporating ambitious new ideas with the day-to-day reality of training (and re-training) mostly inexperienced student journalists in the basics of reporting, writing, media literacy, visual journalism and ethics. Not to mention the mysteriously disappearing Google Doc (containing one of our most important stories), hiring new student reporters to replace the ones who quit suddenly, and motivating the  remaining fatigued staffers slogging through a full academic load, jobs, volunteer commitments and family obligations.
So we go step by step, one journalism experiment at a time, trying this and that. If it goes well, great. If not, I’ll think of what Washington Post Executive Producer & Senior Editor, Digital News Cory Haik said during the #FailFair panel: “Done is better than perfect.”
Bonus: ONA has linked to videos, slides and more from the conference here.

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