Balancing analytics with quality audience engagement skills

ONA16’s Audience Engagement + Analytics track is generously supported by the Robert R. McCormick FoundationRRMF_Logo_LongSideTag_CMYK_(1)


We’re obsessed with the stories journalists tell, and we’re fascinated by how journalists are adapting stories for continuously evolving tools to connect people to these stories. At ONA16, there’s a strong focus on projects and tools developed with audience engagement in mind to give newsrooms insight into what matters to their communities. Whether you want to know more about tools for increasing audience interaction, creating stronger communities, generating more empathy in your viewers or reaching new audiences, you’ll find lots of resources to help you in deciding where to invest. 

Digital media is telling stories in a variety of ways that can reach a wider, more diverse audience. One of our sessions explores how features like Snapchat Discover, Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News provide a place to do this and what this means for publishers. P. Kim Bui, reported.ly’s deputy managing editor; Ashley Codianni, CNN’s director of social media; Justin Ellis, ESPN’s senior editor and Versha Sharma, NowThis’ managing editor, will discuss how to create successful distributed content, while also relinquishing control over elements like design and data on your audience.

Founders at the Coral Project talked to over 300 people from nearly 150 news organizations in more than 30 countries about comments over the past year, followed by a year building tools to create strong communities around journalism. We’re very excited to have Greg Barber, director of digital news projects from The Washington Post; Sydette Harry, community lead and Andrew Losowsky, project lead, both from The Coral Project, talk about their experiences. They will also focus on common misperceptions about comments, studies to help you make informed decisions and demonstrate open-source software to create and enliven communities.

It’s become apparent that audiences don’t just want to receive news in multiple mediums, they also want to connect in a variety of ways. Monica Guzman, a 2016 Nieman Foundation Fellow; Dheerja Kaur, head of product at theSkimm; Terry Parris Jr., community editor at ProPublica and Josh Stearns, associate director of the Public Square Program at Democracy Fund, will delve into creating a unique conversation around the news, while dealing with the technological, ethical and editorial issues you face using these tools.

On Friday, Stephanie Clary, managing editor at Breaking News, and Sam Mandel, CEO and partner of Poncho/Betaworks, will continue the conversation about tools by examining the latest trend — bots. They’re new, easy to transport and have their own personalities. Our speakers will cover everything from Messenger to Alexa and the usefulness of bots for keeping audiences up to speed on what’s happening worldwide.

If you are constantly striving to balance click metrics while still maintaining a strong relationship with your audience, What We Really Mean When We Talk About Empathy and Analytics is for you. Shannon McGregor, research associate of the Engaging News Project, and Scott Smallwood, managing editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, will discuss what content triggers empathy from an audience and how to keep your community invested in the long run.

For even more on keeping up your viewership, one of our sessions focuses on using tools, such as chat apps, to their fullest ability. Ariana Tobin, the Guardian News and Media’s engagement editor; Emily Withrow, assistant professor at the Knight Lab of Northwestern University and Zach Seward, Quartz’s SVP of product and executive editor, will share their best practices for getting your audience engaged, while planning ahead for times when the conversation could hit a dead end.

If you want to dig deeper into analytics, Developing the Audience You Don’t Have will give you greater insight. Apryl Pilolli, Sr. Product Manager, Social with Cox Media group; Amy Vernon, director of audience engagement at the Daily Dot, Carla Zanoni, executive emerging media editor at The Wall Street Journal, and Kim Fox, a senior engagement editor, will provide you with strategies to locate an audience you’re not quite reaching, develop a relationship and build that into an expanding core group.

Another of our sessions will focus on the relationships that can be formed with audiences during journalism events. Using USA TODAY’s 10-event “variety show” format series as a guide, our speakers — Megan Finnerty, director of Storytellers Brand Studio/Gannett, and Liz Nelson, senior director of audience engagement strategy at the USA TODAY NETWORK — will focus on the kinds of emotional and dedicated connections you can create with an audience by hosting events like these. They will also offer practical tips and suggestions for what it takes to pull off your own event.

This year, more than ever, the election is always on our minds. It’s being covered from all angles and with every tool possible. Versha Sharma and Ashley Codianni will talk about the process for producing pieces on social platforms, such as Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook, as well as how to effectively report on events with a small team and keep political election coverage evergreen.

Finally, our Table Talks are a chance to meet with industry experts and your peers to talk through the issues you’re most passionate about related to audience engagement and analytics. Note: Topics will be announced closer to the conference and we are not taking questions for speakers in advance, since these are participatory conversations.

New this year: You can ask session speakers questions ahead of time to help shape the conversation. If you’re curious about an emerging trend, want to know more about a topic or are hoping that speakers will dig into something during their session, now’s your chance to post a question. We’ve embedded question forms on the session pages. To see them, just click on a session from the schedule and you can post your question directly on the ONA16 site. We’re thrilled to be using Hearken to make this happen!

Tools for educators — and future journalists

Many of our sessions aren’t just resources for working journalists, but also for future journalists and educators. The ONA16 schedule is packed with sessions that focus on improving the ways we tell news stories, whether it’s understanding how to make mobile news informative, yet personal, or creating diverse political coverage. Here are some of them:

Fitting in the News: Creating Personalized Interactives. Part of what makes mobile news so unique is that it delivers personalized information to users. Jere Hester, director of news products and projects, Sandeep Junnarkar, director of interactive journalism, both from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Kristen Lee, director of digital editorial operations for the New York Daily News, will guide you through how to create and produce these personalized interactions, which help users form connections to the experiences of others and gives them a deeper understanding of how the news impacts lives. 

Latinos and the 2016 Election: Reporting on Communities Regardless of Your Background. An experiment called Noticiero Móvil provides 2016 election coverage to empower Latinos, funded by an ONA/Knight Foundation grant. This project involved students speaking at multiple events in the Latino community, leading extensive interviews, surveys, reporting and holding many internal discussions about how to navigate ethnic and cultural diversity. Jose Olivares, journalist and student, and Natalie Van Hoozer, bilingual reporter, both from Noticiero Móvil;  Kelly Ann Scott, executive editor at RGJ Media, and Vanessa Vancour, faculty at the Reynolds School of Journalism/Noticiero Móvil, will join to reflect on the cultural tensions they experienced and answer questions. Audience members will be able to share their own strategies and successes in diversifying political coverage.

ONA Educators’ Meetup. This informal gathering connects  journalism educators looking to chat about all things J-school. Want to network with others in advance of the conference? Join over 1,200 members of the ONA Educators Facebook group.

Student Networking session. Calling all students and recent grads! Come meet your fellow student attendees on Friday morning and join an informal group discussion about navigating the conference, networking, and how you can get involved with ONA or start an ONA meetup group on your campus.

Table Talks: Educators + Students. Our Table Talks are a chance to meet with industry experts and your peers to tackle the issues related to educators and students you’re most passionate about. Note: Topics will be announced closer to the conference; speakers will not take questions in advance, since these are participatory conversations.

New this year: You can ask session speakers questions ahead of time to help shape the conversation. If you’re curious about an emerging trend, want to know more about a topic or are hoping that speakers will dig into something during their session, now’s your chance to post a question. We’ve embedded question forms on the session pages. To see them, just click on a session from the schedule and you can post your question directly on the ONA16 site. We’re thrilled to be using Hearken to make this happen!

Level Up On Your Newsgathering Techniques

The newsgathering tools and techniques sessions at ONA16 speak to the heart of what you do: create excellent digital journalism. This isn’t just about the stories you’re telling, but also about the tools you can use to bring them to life. From understanding ethical dilemmas, getting the art of live streaming down, participating in close discussions with newsgathering experts or discovering new tools to help you cover the upcoming election, there’s something for everyone.

Here’s a peek at sessions in the newsgathering track:

10 Tech Trends in Journalism. In this annual standing-room-only session, Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, will demo never-before-seen tech prototypes, betas and other surprises. She’ll give us insights into what trends will impact journalism, what tools are on the horizon and how newsrooms can use them — and avoid potential disruption.

Bringing Ethical and Social Newsgathering to Your Newsroom. Whether it’s crediting sources, communicating with the public or keeping your reporters safe, this session will help answer questions you may have on ethical issues in the newsroom, including a look at ONA’s Social Newsgathering Ethics Code.

F* It, We’ll Do It Live: Workshopping The Hows & Whys of Live Stream Part I. For journalists interested in using live streaming regularly in their reporting, this session will give them a chance to learn more about tools and how to get started with limited resources. Brandon Echter, engagement manager for Science Friday, and Claire O’Neill, producer at NPR, will dig into the many ways NPR, Science Friday and others have experimented with Facebook Live. Want to have a deeper discussion on ethical and editorial concerns, as well as best practices? Join us for the follow-on conversation, F* It, We’ll Do It Live: Workshopping The Hows & Whys Of Live Stream Part II. You can feel free to join one or both conversations, depending on your skill level.

Story, Platform and Design: Digital Journalism Insights + VIP Meetup. What trends might have the most impact in digital news, and what kinds of teams will newsrooms need to match those trends? Candidates for ONA’s Board of Directors will describe their predictions for these questions, moderated by The New York Times’ Marie Tessier. Following the session, there will be a brief meetup and a chance for one-on-one questions.

Change Up Your 2016 Election Coverage. Create a Computational Campaign. This session focuses on computational journalism – the use of computation to facilitate or even automate reporting, data and display. Meredith Broussard, assistant professor at NYU, Andreas Graefe, research fellow at LMU Munich and Jennifer Stromer-Galley, professor at Syracuse University will dig into three innovative computational tools — along with their challenges and implications — that journalists can play and interact with to cover the 2016 election.

Unconference Sessions Tell us what we’ve missed! Unconference sessions provide a space for registered attendees to start conversations on topics that we might not have covered elsewhere. We’re now accepting pitches for the unconference!

ONA16 Lightning Talks. Lightning talks provide registered conference attendees with a place to present a big idea. But keep it short and sweet — five minutes, to be exact! Anyone can pitch to be included, and we’ll vote on-site for the best ideas. The winners will be included in the schedule on Saturday. You can pitch a lightning talk here.

Table Talks: Newsgathering Tools + Techniques. Our Table Talks are a chance to meet with industry experts and your peers to talk through the issues that you’re most passionate about. Note: topics will be announced closer to the conference and we are not taking questions for speakers in advance for Table Talks, since these are participatory conversations.

How to up your development and tech game

This year, a number of our sessions will focus on developer tools and technology that power digital journalism. Whether you want to learn how to create projects with a viable future, have meaningful conversations with developers and tech experts, find out what’s really going on inside smartphones or get advice about running a newsroom on a small budget, we’ve got you covered.

New this year: You can now ask the developers questions in advance of the conference. Get answers to your dev and tech questions and help speakers understand what you’re most interested in by posting a question on the session page. Just click through to the sessions below and drop your question in the embedded form.

  • Tools v. Snowflakes. A great idea can be the start of a long-term project or a one-time-use creation. If you work with interactive news applications or graphics, this is the session for you. We’re excited to have Chris Amico, interactive editor at Frontline, and Priya Krishnakumar, graphics and data reporter at the Los Angeles Times, lead this session. Whether you worry if your project will have a future, work with future tools, or lead to repeated ideas, this session will show you the way to a middle ground.
  • The Break-It-And-Make-It Workshop! Get an inside look at smartphones, web pages and social streams in this interactive workshop. John Keefe, senior editor of data news from WNYC, and Christine Sunu, Open Lab fellow from Buzzfeed, will walk you through the “break” portion of this session. Here, you’ll have the chance to crack open those black boxes to learn more about the devices and data around us. For the “make” portion, you will try your hand at building simple information objects and will get a glimpse of other existing examples, such as information-enabled lamps and cuddle toys.
  • Small Team, Small Budget? Yes, You Can Hire a Developer. With many newsrooms facing small or shrinking budgets, hiring a developer seems like an expense you can’t afford. Thomas Thoren, data reporter at The Lens, will explain why a developer can benefit the entire newsroom, based on past experiences from a news app team built from the ground up. Keep an eye out for additional speakers.
  • Table Talks: Developer Tools + Tech. Our Table Talks are a chance to meet with industry experts and your peers to talk through the issues you’re most passionate about related to development tools and technology. Note: topics will be announced closer to the conference and we are not taking questions for speakers in advance for Table Talks, since these are participatory conversations.

These sessions represent just a small section of what we’ll be focusing on at the conference this year. Be sure to check out the entire ONA16 program.

A 360 Tour of Visual Storytelling

Next month, many ONA16 sessions will show you how to improve your video storytelling skills. Take a look at these sessions focusing on video, virtual reality and 360 video.

New this year: You can now ask our speakers questions in advance of the conference. Get answers to your video questions and help speakers understand what you’re most interested in learning more about by posting a question on the session page. Just click through to the sessions below and drop your question in the embedded form.

  • Broadcast, Web Video and the Attention Economy. Online video can capture people’s attention in ways that print journalism can’t always do, but telling the news from an online video approach can mean taking on a very different mindset. Our team of experts will tell you how they have approached this challenge in a variety of ways. Nasr ul Hadi, ICGJ Knight Fellow – India; Molly Hughes, Director of Denver Post TV; Misty Montano, Digital Content Manager at 9NEWS KUSA and Chip Mahaney, National Director of News Recruitment at The E.E. Scripps Company, will talk about the workflow they’ve each used to produce high-quality web video, as well as best practices for gaining attention for your pieces.
  • Quick Guide to Your Basic 360/VR Toolkit: As 360 video and virtual reality have grown, so has the number of tools for creating them. Lakshmi Sarah, co-founder of Tiny World Productions, Kevin Tsukii, Immersive Video Lead for Immersive Group, and Nicholas Whitaker, Training and Development Manager for Google, will give an overview of affordable cameras, audio equipment and software to help you get started.
  • VR Technical Town Hall. This session, led by Robert Hernandez, Associate Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg School of Journalism and ONA board member, is aimed at practitioners who are already experienced in creating VR pieces. This is a place to openly discuss best practices, tools, current and upcoming gear, along with what’s on the near horizon for this rapidly growing medium. Space is extremely limited for this session.
  • VR Technical Workshop: Introduction to Unity. The more accessible virtual reality becomes, the more we are learning about it and the more we experiment. True virtual reality isn’t just 360 video; it also contains computer-designed graphic elements. We’re very excited to have our well-versed speakers, Daniel Pacheco, Professor from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and Ashley Pinnick, artist, VR developer and storyteller, give you a crash course on the Unity game engine. Unity is one of the most common tools for creating a true VR experience. This session will include an overview of what Unity has to offer, some pointers for getting started and resources for learning more about the platform. Though this is an introductory course, we consider this a technical workshop. This is aimed at people who are making VR content now. Please make sure you download the personal license version of Unity before the session (and preferably before you meet the hotel’s WiFi).

We’re looking forward to talking about how news organizations can create better experiences on video and beyond. These sessions represent just a small samping of what we’ll be focusing on at the conference this year. Be sure to check out the complete ONA16 program.

Leveling up your career at ONA16

ONA’s conferences have always been about celebrating great journalism and sharing conversations about the ever-changing industry. But they also are designed to serve as a source of inspiration and a way to gain skills that can apply to your career – whether you’ve just gotten started in the field or you’re a long-time veteran. This year’s schedule is packed with sessions on career development that we hope will motivate and aid you.

For new conference attendees, the First-Timer Orientation is a great place to start. Laura Amico, digital projects editor at the Boston Globe, Luis Gomez, engagement editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Connie K. Ho, digital content coordinator at Westways, Mandy Jenkins, head of news at Storyful, our own Meghan Murphy, community manager at ONA and Samantha Ragland, digital content strategist at The Palm Beach Post will talk about everything from connecting with conference veterans to navigating your way around the schedule.

If you’re just starting out in the technology or journalism field, hearing from our MJ Bear Fellows is a great next step. Get inspired by their projects and learn how they have built connections to advance their careers, and how you can do the same. Follow that up with tips on the process of freelancing, from start to finish, as well as best practices, from our experienced freelance speaker, Saul S. Elbein, who has been in the industry for almost a decade, Katie Kingsbury, Ideas Editor / Deputy Managing Editor for the Boston Globe, moderated by Bill Glenn, VP of marketing at Rightside.

For more seasoned journalists, Fail Fest is always a great learning experience. Cory Haik, chief strategy officer at Mic, Julie Westfall, Deputy Politics Editor at The Los Angeles Times, and David Cohn, senior director of Alpha Group, Advance Publications, can tell you all about how they recovered when things went sideways.

Sometimes, even success can have its consequences. More often than not, journalists writing on sensitive or powerful issues have faced digital harassment. Threats, obscene photos and other graphic abuse can also become a regular part of their jobs. Emma Carew Grovum, assistant managing editor at The Daily Beast, and Rose Eveleth, freelance reporter for Flash Forward, will discuss how to be better prepared for doxxing and what to do when it happens.

For those in the newsroom who are hiring, Doug Mitchell, the project founder and director at NPR NextGen Radio, has some key tips to begin your search and find diverse talent. We’ll be announcing more leaders to this session.

Finally, our Table Talks on career building will give you the opportunity to chat intimately with industry experts and your peers about the issues you’re most concerned about relating to a career in journalism. Note: topics will be announced closer to the conference and we are not taking questions for speakers in advance for Table Talks, since these are participatory conversations.

New this year: You can ask speakers questions ahead of time to help shape the conversation. If you’re curious about an emerging trend, want to know more about a topic or are hoping that speakers will dig into something during their session, now’s your chance to post a question. We’ve embedded question forms on the session pages. To see them, just click on a session from the schedule and you can post your question directly on the ONA16 site. We’re thrilled to be using Hearken to make this happen!

Learn how to increase business and revenue in newsrooms

Whether you’re interested in learning more about working remotely with journalists across the globe, searching for new sources of revenue, or discussing business and revenue with industry experts, the ONA16 sessions that focus on the business side of journalism will help you run the newsroom better.

In one of our sessions, Rebecca Eisenberg, senior editor at Upworthy, Mandy Jenkins, head of news at Storyful and Millie Tran, director of global adaption at Buzzfeed, will explore managing and working with remote teams across time zones, languages and physical distance, while ensuring successful communication.

When it comes to teamwork in the newsroom, this often means joining forces with outside partners to tackle critical and expensive-to-produce stories. We’ll hear about successful examples from experienced collaborators FERN and Rocky Mountain PBS, Sam Fromartz, editor-in-chief at FERN, and Laura Frank, president/GM of news at Rocky Mountain PBS. They will talk about navigating successful editorial partnerships during a time of shrinking news budgets resources and how these types of partnerships can go from pure news reporting to advertising, events and beyond. On Thursday, our resourceful speakers, Ann-Marie Adams, founder of The Hartford Guardian, Steve Buttry, director of student media at Louisiana State University, Celeste LeCompte, director of business development at ProPublica, Mike Orren, president of Speakeasy and Chris Roper, deputy director of Code for Africa, will discuss new revenue streams that are emerging.

One revenue stream that we’ll explore in depth is the success that news outlets can see by focusing on a niche topic. Ricardo Baca, Marijuana Editor at The Denver Post/The Cannabist, Sarah Frank, editor at NowThis and Nushin Rashidian, co-founder of Cannabis Wire, will dive into the ways publishers on a large and small scale are reporting in every medium on polarizing topics that relate to the pot beat.

Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Eric Lieberman, senior vice president and general counsel at Fusion; and Alison Schary, attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (ONA’s general counsel), will give you tools on the unique legal issues surrounding digital journalism.  Have a question around copyright issues? This is a great place to ask.

Our Table Talks will give you a chance to dive into conversations around business and revenue with industry experts. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with experienced journalists and your peers about the issues you’re most concerned about relating to the business of journalism.

This year, you can ask speakers questions ahead of time to help shape the conversation. If you’re you’re curious about an emerging trend, want to know more about a topic or are hoping that speakers will dig into something during their session, now’s your chance to post a question. We’ve embedded question forms on the session pages. To see them, just click on a session from the schedule and you can post your question directly on the ONA16 site. We’re thrilled to be using Hearken to make this happen!