Five takeaways from ONA 2013 for students

By Elise Schmelzer
The student newsroom at ONA13.
Photo courtesy of Laura Davison.
For some, this weekend was filled with tailgating and college football. Others spent the weekend in Atlanta learning about the future of digital journalism at the Online News Association's annual conference.

Laura Davison, an MU graduate student and former secretary of ONA Mizzou, was selected to work in the conference's student newsroom. Along with 19 other students, she spent the weekend recording the conference through blog posts, tweets and videos. From what they've collected, here are five ideas from the conference that students can apply to their own work.

1. Videos don't have to be either serious or entertaining. Phoebe Connelly, a senior producer at the Washington Post's PostTV said that you can combine the two tones to create a video that is entertainingly informative.

To learn more about the discussion on video, check out "Four questions about video — with surprising answers" by Davison.

2. When producing content for the web, don't forget that many people will read or watch it on their phones. Some of those phones will be smartphones, but not all of them. Davison tweeted from a session on reporting and publishing for mobile-only audiences. Here are some of her takeaways:

3. Don't just use Twitter to tweet. Associated Press Media Editor Eric Carvin said it is important for journalists to know how to use Twitter to dig up new stories. He also said the AP has used it to find sources and receive tips.

For more tips about using Twitter as a journalist, check out "You are what you tweet" by MU student Allison Prang.

4. Everyone makes mistakes. A correction is certainly embarrassing, but very rarely is the end of a career. Will Van Wazer of the Washington Post once deleted the all the publication's blogs for an hour and still works there.

Watch three journalists tell the story of their biggest gaffes in "Confessions of a Journalist: Epic fails and pitfalls" by Avni Nijhawan and Luke Rafferty.

5. Not all stories are meant to be told with text. Journalists at the "Oops, We Broke the Article Machine: Imagining What Comes Next" workshop suggested using infographics, crowdsourcing and interactive maps to tell stories. "(The article) is superb at some things, but it's not the only way to tell stories, particularily online," said American Press Institute Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel.

For more ways to break out of the text-heavy norm, check out Sean Greene's Storify collection of ideas from the workshop.

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