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

On social media


  • 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.”

On verification

  • 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

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.”

Related: Full official coverage of ONA12 sessions (Journalists.org) | Session recaps and videos (Journalists.org).

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