I love going to different conventions. The week before going to the Online News Association convention in Atlanta, I was at my company’s annual event. When you go to different events, you get to see how folks handle their events. Below are 10 things I saw at #ONA13 in Atlanta that I’d love see at #NABJ14 in Boston.
1. Livestreaming and SoundCloud audio of workshops and key sessions. I beat this drum for the 2012 and 2013 NABJ conventions without success. But ONA had a Stream Team, and the convention guide included audio and video symbols for sessions being recorded. So if you couldn’t make the sold-out event, you could still follow along.
2. Storifys of every session. The ONA social media team created Storifys of every session. And this is on top of the dozens done by conference attendees. Check out the one done for the “Breaking News: Real-Time Takeaways From the Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage” panel.
3. Cutting-edge topics. With all the rapid change going on in journalism, we need to hear from those who are in the forefront of affecting and making those changes. Some of the #ONA13 sessions included: InformaCam: Sign, Seal, and Securely Deliver Media from Citizens and Photojournalists in the Field; Practical Security For Journalists; Data Journalism: The Tower of Babel Problem; and Journalism in the Age of Surveillance.
4. The Midway. While ONA had the traditional exhibitors, there was also this space, where attendees could try out different tools and tech, and also listen to presenters do quick talks on their products. There were also rest spots and and walls were used to post jobs and allow attendees to list their skills for opportunities.
5. List of speakers on the conference website. Every speaker, along with photos, bios and contact information were included, making it easy for attendees to keep in touch.
6. Unconference sessions. Attendees were allowed to submit workshop topics that weren’t on the official schedule. We were allowed to vote, and the best ones were put on the schedule. One I liked was ” Save People, Not Journalism.”
7. Lightning talks. I experienced my first lightning talk at SparkCamp in June 2012. Presenters had exactly five minutes to do a slide presentation on whatever topic to choose. Some favorites: Journalism and Porn; Blowing Up the Live Blog; and Death of the Talking Head.
8. Whiskey tasting. Muck Rack sponsored a whiskey tasting as the last event in the Midway. What made it really clever was that drinks and glasses were set at most of the tables occupied by Midway vendors.
9. Buttons and ribbons. We’ve all seen the typical ribbons in different colors for conference attendees: First-Time Attendee, Board of Directors, Presenter, Speaker, etc. But at #ONA13, there was a blank white ribbon where you could write your own designation. Mine were #MediaDiversity and #AvGeek. You could also choose a button, numbered 1 through 15, which let folks know how many ONA conferences you’ve attended (I wore number 4).
10. Time. Yes. Time. Although there were sessions on top of sessions, conference organizers also built in time for attendees to chat with exhibitors, stroll through the job fair, try out toys in the interactive Midway and just chill.