Dean Zulich/ONA Convention Online
|ONA members line up at the registration desk on the opening day of the conference.|
By April Chan and Latria Graham
ONA Convention Online Staff
The 6th annual Online News Association’s conference opened today in New York City. It promises to be the largest one yet and has attracted many of the most influential people working in the online medium, organizers said.
Conference co-chair Jody Brannon, executive producer for news at USAToday.com, said that attendance at the two-day gathering will likely exceed 400 people.
“We’re counting on folks coming from the New York area, spur of the moment, Friday,” she said.
“At a time when the Internet is seemingly bubbling over with energy, I think it’s a great time to be gathering.”
Brannon said that a panel discussion on how journalists worked under the pressure of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and last winter’s tsunami will be a highlight of this year’s conference.
The Hurricane Katrina general session that will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, in the Gramercy room promises to be both personal and powerful, said moderator Denise Polverine, editor in chief of cleveland.com.
“What you’re going to hear is that it’s a truly solid integration of really everything that we strive to do,” she said. “It was online journalism. It was print journalism. It was citizen journalism all rolled into one. All three of those things played a significant role in the storytelling.”
The panel will feature Steven Ibanez of NOLA.com/Times Picayune, and Chris Norman of KRD and Keith Burton of Gulfcoastnews.com.
With the exploding growth of broadband, Janice Castro, assistant dean and director of the graduate journalism program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, said the panel discussion she's moderating, "Visual Storytelling," will introduce ONA attendees to some of the most creative folks working with digital media, who normally wouldn't be part of the conference.
Among her panelists are David Dunkley Gyimah, whose "The View" Web site just won first place in the Batten awards.
The conference will also take a look at digital media worldwide. The workshop titled “Broadening the Bandwith” will allow attendees to debate with professionals from BBC Interactive, Elmundo.es, and many more about journalistic responsibilities in newsrooms serving an international audience.
Since the decline in users for newspapers, magazines, and television, companies are having a hard time keeping users interested. The “What’s still new in new media” workshop will help stations solve this problem.
“We will be talking about new ways of reaching readers – RSS feeds, SMS messages, blogs, audio/video/Flash, and podcasts. There are delivery systems that might not be new, but they still are not widespread for most users,” said Suzanne Levinson, online managing editor of Herald.com and ElnuevoHerald.com.