An insider's look at ONA15

Photo of Online Journalism Awards
by Katy Mersmann
By Katy Mersmann

Did you miss me? I'm back from the ONA conference and back posting on this blog for a day. I was on the ONA Student Newsroom, reporting in L.A. on the conference, which gave me a really different perspective on the conference. With our current executive board sharing their take on ONA from afar, I figured those of us in student newsroom could add a little bit about our take on the conference from inside the newsroom.

From Katy, executive emeritus:
Reporting from the Student Newsroom meant I didn't actually attend very many sessions. I live-tweeted Amy O'Leary's session about ancient storytelling techniques, which was pretty amazing. I sat in on the We Belong Here panel about online harassment, which was pretty hard to listen to, but so, so important. Finally, I reported on the #FailFest panel, where I got to hear some really successful journalists talk about some of their biggest screw-ups. All three of the panels I attended were pretty amazing, but our executive board covered them pretty well for me. It was the behind-the-scenes look at the Student Newsroom that was most exciting for me. The reporters in the newsroom were a diverse group of very talented reporters and we had the most interesting, focused group of journalists and journalism educators mentoring us. I was lucky to be included, and I want to brag on some of the great work the group produced. From this insanely cool graphic about where attendees came from (edited by Mizzou's own Chris Canipe) to the Instagram collection of Humans of ONA to a first-person narrative about racial identity, the Student Newsroom website has work worth checking out.

From Tracy, Mizzou senior
While working for the Student Newsroom, I didn't have a lot of free time to attend sessions, because my pitches were geared more toward covering the people at the conference. My favorite piece I worked on was about the 10-second skill set recruiters seek in new hires. As a student seeking internships and jobs, I'm interested in knowing what exactly employers look for when making hiring decisions. This piece provided insight into what recruiters look for, as well as how those desired skills and traits vary among companies.

While we were at it, we also asked some other Mizzou attendees for about their favorite sessions of the week.

From Katie Yaeger, Mizzou grad student
Katie shared with us a few of her favorite sessions she "attended IRL," not just ones she followed via a Twitter hashtag. She enjoyed a session called "Changing your stylebook to create a more empathetic newsroom" which included tips on reporting about LGBT issues, mental health and sexual violence. She also enjoyed a session about ethics codes, which looked at a project that allows newsrooms to build an ethics code to fit their specific needs. "Maybe I'm just a content strategy/UX nerd," Katie said, but a User + Experience session had some interesting things to say about the future of journalism.

From Katherine Reed, public safety and health editor at the Columbia Missourian
Katherine mentioned three things she particularly enjoyed. First, she seconds Katy's appreciation for the We Belong Here keynote panel, where the panelists talked about a project called Trollbusters attempting to tackle the problems female journalists face when in comes to online harassment. She also enjoyed a session about the emerging world of live-streaming for news coverage, and a session on managing Twitter in breaking news situations.

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