After my second Online News Association conference, I can say that I was wonderfully overwhelmed. By that I mean, if there is something you don’t know, there is a session or hands-on workshop on it and there are at least three people who are willing to talk to you one on one. I don’t know if it is the board’s intention, but it’s always been small enough where you’re not in a line out of the door waiting to talk to one person.
This year’s takeaway for me was a lot of encouragement. I’ve spent the last two years as a freelancer and used this time to build up my professional web site. Before that, I was a reporter and a multimedia producer, so I worried that two years away from a full-time job would be detrimental. Thankfully many people with way more experience than me said that wasn’t the case. Seriously people, WordPress is your friend.
They also let me pick their brains about mobile journalism and what I need to be thinking about for any organization. Also, whatever you think you know, there are a dozen other things you still need to learn.
One of the best seminars, partially because I follow these people all over the internet, was 20 Tips to Supercharge your Mobile Efforts. Did you know that many news organizations’ mobile is on track to, or already is, outpacing their main web site’s traffic? Of course you did. But it’s not because they suck.
It’s because everyone has an iPhone or an iPad and none of this is going away. How closely does your organization track these numbers? It’s very likely that you don’t. And by you, I mean me and every place I’ve worked. How closely do your reporters work with your company’s web team? If you’re just in the same room, that’s not close enough. You need to be in each other’s face. Yesterday.
Even if you’re still a traditional reporter, there are lots of things that can help you. Handling breaking news, public records requests, handling a mess load of data and many more topics. I’m taking what I learned this year – by the way, my website is now mobile enabled – and putting it to work because by the time I get to the Chicago conference in 2014, I’m sure I’ll have a dozen more questions. I hope to see you there.
Vanessa Deggins is a freelance web/digital reporter and producer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.