Posted in Conferences & Conventions, multimedia journalist

10 Things I Learned At #ONA13

Benet Wilson, Crystal Garner, Anthony Cave and Gabi Wright at ONA.
Benet Wilson, Crystal Garner, Anthony Cave and Gabi Wright at ONA.

My head is still bursting with everything I learned at last week’s Online News Association conference in Atlanta.  I have so much stuff I brought home it will probably take me a month to sort through. But I still have enough brain synapses left to compile this list of 10 things. Enjoy — and I hope to see you in Chicago Sept. 25-27, 2014!

  1. The next generation is doing quite nicely. I have a tradition of taking the student journalists of color who are on ONA’s student projects (headed by NABJ member Michelle Johnson) out to dinner (see photo, above). Crystal’s essay on living in 20 homes in her 20 years was amazing. Anthony did a great piece on newsroom diversity.  And Gabi explored the relevant question “Is Breaking News Broken?” including an interview with NABJ member Rick Hancock of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  2. Michelle Johnson of Boston University kicks ass! MiJohn was amazing at #ONA13. Not only did she help train said next generation in the student newsroom, she also, with her BU students, picked up TWO awards at the ONA awards banquet for coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing.  And she was always there for a kind word or advice despite her breakneck pace of work in Atlanta.
  3. #MediaDiversity lives!! I saw it in what I feel was a record number of people of color attending this year’s convention, including a good number of NABJ members. I also saw it at the Saturday afternoon “Disrupt Diversity” panel that featured NABJ member Dori Maynard and a full house.  And 34% of attendees were people of color. This is impressive because there were past conferences where I could count them on my hands and toes.
  4. Amy Webb STILL rocks with her “10 Tech Trends For Journalists” session.  Those in the know get to this session early, because it quickly becomes standing room only.  If you saw her presentation at NABJ Philly in 2011. you know what I mean. If not, you can listen here or view it here.
  5. You can teach an old dog new tricks! I make it a point to keep up with all the new mobile tools and tech. But Jeremy Caplan of CUNY Grad School of Journalism and Alissa Richardson of Bowie State University (who didn’t attend for health reasons but Storyfied the event) did a fast review in “21 Ways to Awesome-ize Your Mobile Toolkit,” which you can also listen to here.
  6. Journalists WILL pay for their own drinks. I hosted a #DigitalDiversity happy hour with fellow board members Robert Hernandez and Juana Summers, and the event was packed, despite a cash bar and no food. I vow to have a sponsor next year!
  7. Nate Silver talks numbers. The owner of the political website FiveThirtyEight.com (which is moving to ESPN), discussed why numbers are important as part of storytelling.
  8. The ONA Midway was a great place to get down and dirty. I got to play with things like Videolicious, drones, CartoDB, Jurnid, Google, Knight Lab and Supshot, to name a few.
  9. Some great folks want to be on the ONA board. You can check out the audio from the Lighting Round session, where board candidates made their pitches, including NABJ member Michael Bolden.
  10. Hope is not just a town in Arkansas.  We’ve all heard and read about the doom and gloom in journalism. But I didn’t hear one iota of that at ONA.  Recruiters were out in full force, and there were even walls where employers and people could post opportunities.

Benét J. Wilson serves on the board of the Online News Association. She is the immediate past chair of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force and is the social media/eNewsletters editor for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.  She is also a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

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Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

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