Conference time! As always, we’ll bring together lots of smart and talented people working on incredible projects. There are a number of can’t-miss sessions for me this year, including the obvious: a great selection of keynotes that range from insights from Facebook’s Product Director Fidji Simo on how news organizations can work with the platform, an important talk about inclusivity in newsrooms (thrilled to have Jose Antonio Vargas returning to our conference stage!), and an inside look at the rise and unknown future for reported.ly, an innovative and inspiring approach to breaking news. If you’re looking for me next week, I guarantee you can find me in the front row for all of those.
But don’t let the keynotes be the only sessions you make it to next week. I know there are happy hours calling your name, but the most inspiring part of our conferences is hearing from journalists doing excellent work. Some of the sessions I am most excited for this year deal with audience engagement. I LOVE to think about how news organizations can find meaningful ways to reach people with news they care about, and this selection of sessions gives you a well-rounded look at innovative practices to take back to your newsroom.
<3 My can’t-miss sessions: <3
- Welcome to the Snapocalypse: Navigating, Surviving … and Thriving? … With Distributed Content If you’re interested in creating content for distributed platforms (SnapChat, Facebook Instant Articles, etc.) and want to learn how to measure success, don’t miss this one. It’s got four super-smart journalists from four very different outlets — reported.ly, CNN, ESPN and NowThis. I guarantee you’ll walk away with new ideas AND smart things to say to the non-believers out there.
- Getting into the Weed: Launching a Successful Niche Digital Media Product Yes, this session is about what it’s like to report on marijuana in a state where it is legal. It is also about developing a relationship with new audiences through great coverage and real community engagement.
- Do Audience Better: Lessons from 150 Newsrooms and a Year of Writing Code for The Coral Project Can I just put a bunch of praise hands emojis here instead of explaining in words how much I appreciate The Coral Project? 🙌 Most well-known for embracing the comment section and the communities that flourish around them, The Coral Project creates tools that help journalists connect with people. Great ethos, great people, great tips for connecting with the people you want to reach.
- F* It, We’ll Do It Live: Workshopping The Hows & Whys Of Live Stream Part I Oh, a workshop about Facebook Live? Yes, please. And a session that focuses on why live streaming is so popular? Yep, there, too.
- Engaging Audiences with Live “High Def” Journalism Events provide a meaningful way to connect audiences with stories, as well as a range of revenue and engagement opportunities. We’ve been paying attention to the work Megan Finnerty has been doing at the Arizona Storytellers Project for years, and I’m so interested to hear more about how she scaled the project with Gannett.
Two bonus sessions that don’t deal exclusively with audience engagement and events but are of interest to everyone since they feature incredibly smart people on important topics: Rethinking ‘Diversity’: How to Cover Race & Inclusion (learn who is getting it right and how you can be sure your outlet does, too) and Fail Fest 2016: I Failed, It Sucked, But Here’s How I Bounced Back (hear from top-level editors about the times their projects really didn’t work).
These are just some of the sessions that will help you find ways to better connect to your audience. I’m super-stoked this year that ONA is using Hearken to help us get feedback from our community in advance of the conference. If you have a question for a speaker, click through the session title from the ONA16 schedule to send it in advance.