I’m someone who has been involved with conference planning for the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (2011, 2012 and 2013) and the Online News Association conference (2013 and 2014). For me, it’s interesting to see how these organizations handle their annual events. Below are 10 things I saw at #ONA14 in Chicago this week that I’d love see at #NABJ40 in Minneapolis and other journalism association conferences.
1. Livestreaming and SoundCloud audio of workshops and key sessions. ONA had a Stream and Video Team to cover events, 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, like for this session: Real Talk: Navigating the First Years of Your Online Journalism Career.
— This session will have live video
— This session will have recorded audio
2. Simple workshop tracks. We had four tracks — Listen, Solve, Make and Midway. Attendees had the ability to filter workshops based on these topics. You could also focus on seven specific topics: Mobile, Tools & Tech for Developers, Business Leadership, Newsgathering Tools & Techniques, Legal &Ethics, Engagement & Audience Development and Teaching and Training.
3. Speaking of The Midway... While ONA does have the traditional exhibitors, there was also this space, what it called journalism’s lab of the future. It offered an interactive showcase of cool news tools and technology, along with the chance to play with them in separate workshops of these cutting-edge projects.
4. Cutting-edge topics. With all the rapid change going on in journalism, it’s important to hear from those who are in the forefront of affecting and making those changes. Some of the #ONA14 sessions included: Charting a Course Through the Twitter Tempest; HTML, CSS, JS, WTF? An Introduction to Web Languages; From Blog to Business; Gathering Fast, Accurate Information During Crisis and Disaster; Tableau: Making Maps; Using Analytics to Improve Readership; Virtual Reality Storytelling; Demystifying the How and Why of Livestreaming; and Banjo: The Secret Weapon for Breaking News & Reporting.
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. Side note: You need to have this young man speaking and presenting in Minneapolis!
Williams is a professional web developer and journalist who specializes in front-end development, digital cartography and data visualization. He currently works as a news application developer at the Center for Investigative Reporting. He previously served as a web producer for the Los Angeles Times.
- Thursday, 11:30 am – Digital Millennials Take Center Stage
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 on Saturday. Entries included: How Can We Protect Journalists’ Sources in the Digital Era; What Does the Social Media Newsroom of the Future Look Like?; and Local Learnings from the News Landscape on YouTube.
7. Lightning talks. I moderated one (Digital Millennials Take Center Stage). Presenters have a set number of minutes to do a slide presentation on whatever topic to choose. It’s informative and entertaining.
8. Whiskey tasting. Muck Rack sponsored an afternoon whiskey tasting in the Midway. What made it really clever was that drinks and glasses were set at most of the tables occupied by Midway vendors, encouraging people to chat.
9. Karaoke fundraiser. What started out as an amusing side event a few years ago turned into a full-blown moneymaker in Chicago. The ONA board began an off-the-cuff fundraising effort to have former President Jim Brady sing. He said he would — for a $2500 donation to ONA. Others joined, and we managed to raise nearly $3500 — plus NewsCred stepped in as a sponsor.
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.
Benét J. Wilson writes for a non-profit aviation association. She is also an aviation/travel freelance journalist, and has written for publications and blogs including CrankyFlier.com, ACI-NA Centerlines, Aviation International News, Airport World, the Airline Passenger Experience magazine. and the Runway Girl Network. She is currently a board member for the Online News Association and Vice Chair, Education, for the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force. This post was first published on the NABJ Print Journalism Task Force blog.