12 bite-size takeaways from the Online News Association conference
Journalists.org | NetNewsCheck
The Online News Association's annual conference last week in San Francisco gathered some leading digital journalism innovators. Here are some of the most important bits of news and ideas to take away (whether or not you attended the convention).
Work to admire
- The full list of more than 30 Online Journalism Award winners includes a mix of digital startups, nonprofit media and traditional newspapers or broadcasters. PBS Frontline, ProPublica, NYTimes.com and French website Rue89 won awards for General Excellence in Online Journalism, which recognizes both reporting and design. Homicide Watch won the Knight Award for Public Service, and breaking news awards went to WNYC for interactive maps of Hurricane Irene's impact and to the L.A. Times for coverage of Occupy protests.
On social media
- Twitter needs a correction tool. (We've explored that idea in depth.)
- "Always worrying about perception is a dangerous thing." -- Reuters social media editor Anthony DeRosa, stepping back from the debate about whether retweets are perceived as endorsements.
- The 18 online sources of user-generated content that The New York Times' Jen Preston relies on.
- Huffington Post's Craig Kanalley on measuring success in social media: "These are human beings we're talking to. It's not just about numbers."
- Should journalists use filtered photos from services like Instagram? UC-Berkeley professor Richard Koci Hernandez observes: "No one complains about black and white, which is the ultimate filter and has been part of photojournalism for years."
- And this: "Photographic truth doesn't reside in the camera, or in an app, but in the heart and mind of the image-maker. Let's not point fingers at technology. It's not Photoshop, Hipstamatic or 'filters' that create photographic lies, but the photographer."
Comfort in uncertainty
- Digital First Media's Jim Brady on hiring for the Thunderdome newsroom: "I can't have people who are risk averse. You have to be able to stare into the abyss and uncertainty of this project and be excited by it."
- Fergus Bell shares a diagram of how the AP verifies user-generated content.
- Mandy Jenkins and Craig Silverman talked (slides) about how to have a "BS detector" and verify social media tips. Some of their more-novel ideas: Call the source on the phone; Ask to see all the other photos they took; Use TinEye for reverse image search; Ask yourself, "Is it worth the risk if it is wrong?" (Correction: This session actually was from the 2011 conference, not this year's. But still good advice.)
The future of Twitter
- Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responds to critics who say Twitter's API restrictions have slammed the door on third-party developers: "There's a big distinction between having an API and having a real platform." In other words, it can still be a "platform" for anyone to post content without having an unrestricted API.
- More news from Costolo: Twitter is working on a curation tool, and may by the end of the year have a way for users to download an archive of their tweets.
The broken ad model
- "Advertising is a cruel game," NPR's Matt Thompson said in a business-model presentation. He cited media writer Michael Wolff's summary of the situation: "I don't know anyone in the ad-supported Web business who isn't engaged in a relentless, demoralizing, no-exit operation to realign costs with falling per-user revenues, or who isn't manically inflating traffic."