ONA Philly: the revival of the Online News Association in Philadelphia

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Jim MacMillan hiding from Daniel Victor’s iPhone camera to my enjoyment at the August 2011 ONA Philly meetup at Nodding Head.

Sometimes you need that kick in the pants from an outsider.

There is a new Philadelphia chapter of the Online News Association, something of a trade organization founded in 1999 for journalism innovation that hosts a popular annual national conference I attended last year and regional events across the country. (I’ll be attending the national 2011 ONA conference, this year in Boston in October, too.)

Next ONA Philly meetup: Meet NewsWorks.com

  • 6-9pm Thurs. Sept. 15
  • WHYY, 6th St. at Race
  • Old City, Philadelphia
  • One year after launching, hear from the online news initiative from WHYY
  • Free beer, light snacks
  • Meetup.com RSVP here

But it’s not the first ONA chapter here. As recent as summer 2008, an ONA Philly chapter, led by then Inquirer online editor Chris Krewson and Philly.com editor Wendy Warren, held a big regional conference. But it was a time of heavy contraction and stress over at 400 North Broad Street. The workload wasn’t spread enough and that iteration fizzled. (Credit to Krewson and Warren for first bringing the group here — and setting up the first Facebook group.)

Fortunately a newcomer has taken up the cause and asked for me to get involved. (And has a new Facebook group up, in addition to a Twitter account to follow news.)

My friend, the young sage Daniel Victor, who took a gig at Philly.com under Warren earlier this year after the collapse at TBD, has taken up the cause. Enlisting the Technically Philly crew (hi, that’s me!) and local AP editor Amy Fiscus, Victor is bringing the show back. I’m happy he jump-started the idea, but I’m proud to have been part of bringing this back and expect to play a role for a long time in the future.

We had small 20-30 person meetups in July and August and now are moving forward. On Sept. 15, NewsWorks is hosting a show and tell on their near one-year anniversary of work from WHYY, details above at right in sidebar.

From what I know, there’s never been a national ONA conference in Philadelphia. That’s something I’d like to see changed.

Three proposed ONA 2011 panels

The annual national Online News Association conference, to be held this fall in Boston, has launched its 2011 panel picker, in which those interested can vote to support their favorites of a couple hundred suggested sessions.

I am somewhat involved in three. To vote, users just need to sign up with an email. If you’re interested give love to any of these three:

  1. Data Sets You Free — Informed by my Transparencity work, I proposed to lead a session with Robert Cheetham of Azavea and Chris Satullo of WHYY that would focus on the following: “In Philadelphia, a GIS shop, an NPR affiliate, a foundation, an indie news site and a technology community are coming together to organize, catalog, share and use city government data to create applications, stories and coverage that boosts transparency and efficiency. This presentation focuses on what was done, why collaboration was important and lessons on doing the same elsewhere.” Questions: 1. Why is government data so important? 2. What are challenges, obstacles and lessons from an actual example? 3. What can other journalists learn from such a project?
  2. This isn’t a panel: 10 lessons from Technically Philly — “10 actionable lessons derived from what we’ve learned building Technically Philly, a profitable blog that covers technology in Philadelphia. No panel discussion, just 10 takeaways that you can use at your job tomorrow including sources of revenue and editorial philosophies that you didn’t learn in journalism school.”
  3. Making it work with a small staff — Organized by colleague Sean Blanda, “How can you keep the lights on and the posts coming when you have a staff of ten or less? Join us as we discuss the workflow hacks and editorial jujitsu necessary for a first-rate news site.”

Online News Association conference 2010: OK, now let’s work together

Online journalism has seen advances editorially, technologically and, more recently and perhaps more importantly, in sustainability, but the industry has yet to efficiently mature its methods of replication, according to my experience last week at the 2010 Online Journalism Association conference.

In spring 2009, major conversations were still focusing on what direction anyone should be headed, as the inaugural BarCamp seemed to suggest, and by last spring, the BarCamp conversation had grown enough to have presenters narrowing onto funding. Last fall, Jeff Jarvis held the Hypercamp conference at CUNY which largely focused on business models for niche sites, and, at the beginning of the year, the William Penn Foundation was focused on create an editorial investment in local Philadelphia public affairs news.

ONA 2010, in Washington D.C., showed another march in the broad conversation of those interested in the future of news, seeming to correlate a connective maturation in those three issues of primacy — editorial, technology and business — but there felt like a lack of real shared and collaborative best practices.

Continue reading Online News Association conference 2010: OK, now let’s work together

Fund My Media J-Lab ONA pre-conference highlights

The J-Lab Institute for Interactive Journalism held a pre-conference called ‘Fund My Media’ before the launch of the Online News Association annual conference Thursday.

Building on last year’s pre-conference before the ONA national event in San Francisco, the morning of discussions, speakers and panels were decidedly focused on keeping online editorial products alive: from foundation support, to events to other for-profit revenue. The event preceded the ONA conference held today and tomorrow.

You can watch the archived livestream of the morning’s sessions here.

Full Disclosure: In conjunction with the J-Lab Networked Journalism Collaborative project and funded by the William Penn Foundation, the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning has generously sponsored and supported my attendance here.

Yesterday’s ‘Fund My Media’ morning series of sessions were inventive and practical. Jan Schaffer and crew put together a rich, insightful, varied and fast moving event. It was a pleasure.

I shared a slew of thoughts, which I think will be updated, but here are some first thoughts for those who weren’t as fortunate to attend, and perhaps even those who have:

Continue reading Fund My Media J-Lab ONA pre-conference highlights