Six takeaways from ONA15

By the ONA Mizzou Executive Board

Photo by Sarah Darby
The Online News Association's annual conference is recognized as one of the premier conferences for all things related to digital media and the future of news. Every year, huge numbers of journalists travel to the conference to learn about new journalism technologies and to discuss ways to advance the industry.

If you're like our executive board, you couldn't make it to the conference in Los Angeles last week for ONA15. But, we're always interested to see what happened, and one of the best things about an online organization is that they're really good about putting things online. As we dug through the conference content, here were a few of our favorite sessions.

From Maria, our secretary:
In her session, Amy O'Leary, the editorial director at Upworthy, took a really long look at storytelling. Like, a 3,000 year look at storytelling, with thoughts from Ancient Greece and Ancient Persia that apply to digital storytelling today. If you're a bit of an art/history/mythology nerd like me, this session is inspiration for days.

From Madi, our treasurer:
It's not enough for companies to simply throw up their hands at trolls and accept online harassment as an inevitable part of the job. After watching the highlights from the 'We belong here: Pushing back against online harassment' keynote, it seems all the more apparent that we need to be taking steps toward protecting not just our female reporters, but all marginalized reporters.

From Ryan, our social media coordinator:
As members of the media, we have a huge responsibility to accurately represent all of the different communities we serve, and the language we use in our reporting is a big part of that responsibility. The session on using your stylebook to create a more empathetic newsroom really hit home for me talking about how best to cover sexual violence, LGBTQ issues, mental health stories and more. I found the GoogleDoc of different stylebooks especially helpful for all journalists reporting on these issues.

From Emerald, our vice president:
As pervasive as Youtube is in our digital lives, it's easy to forget that it is more than just a video hosting site. It's like a hybrid of social network and online TV, especially when it comes to the way that news organizations can utilize it. In the panel about "uncharted Youtube territory," Youtube pros from Vox, Frontline PBS and Fusion talk about how to be successful as an individual or organization on Youtube, as well as the way they learn from and interact with other social media – from titling and retitling your content to potential safety concerns of live streams and other live social updates for foreign correspondents.

From Kara, our membership development chair:
Creating memorable and impactful journalism is any news organization's goal for serving its audience. So what about sustaining that work? In the Internet and mobile age, funding journalism has become a severe issue. And yes, it is one that journalists of all positions and career levels should be following. There's no cure-all solution that can rescue every medium of digital journalism, but this panel discussion on building revenue streams through community relationships and out-of-the-box methods provides a positive outlook for the future.

From Sarah, our president:
Since the early days of the web, journalists have had to quickly adapt to digital trends in order to maintain audience. Amy Webb's talk, "Tech Trends in Journalism," provides an in-depth look at 10 technology trends that may affect journalist's in the near future. Webb, a futurist and the founder of Webbmedia Group Digital Strategy, has given her tech trends talk for eight years in a row now at the ONA Conference. The trends she identifies range from really cool to slightly terrifying. In the really cool category, Webb shows how reporters can use cognitive computing tools to understand the habits, interests and communication styles of news consumers. On the slightly scary side of things, she predicts the future of robot reporting. Robots, as in physical metal bots zooming around to gather the news.

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