ONA Weekly #370: Designing Live Journalism For Digital And In-person Audiences

By on July 28, 2021

Designing live journalism for digital and in-person audiences

Parts of the world are cautiously reopening, so publishers have been debating the merits of in-person versus online versus “hybrid” events. At ONA21, experts from The Wall Street Journal shared their best practices for making live journalism sing, whether for in-person or online audiences (session recording and full transcript available):

Build “classrooms.” The team at the Journal created a format—the “classroom”—in which a small number of attendees would pay a premium to access and participate in a session, while many more could pay to passively stream. In one such session, chef Rodney Scott made a fried catfish and tomato salmon salad for a small group. These attendees were told to buy catfish and tomatoes in advance so the chef could walk them through the cooking process virtually, while everyone else watched.

Take advantage of streaming and drive-ins. Drive-ins, if available, can be an ideal venue for events with both in-person and online elements. The Journal partnered with the Skyline outdoor drive-in movie theater in Brooklyn. They hosted a conversation with the writers of Judas and the Black Messiah that could be streamed, but kept the screening of the film itself as an exclusive in-person event.

Video questions. Audience engagement keeps panels from feeling stale, and audience members asking questions in several formats is even better. For town halls, the team asked audience members to submit questions in multiple ways: They could send in written questions in advance, write in the chat, or log into a platform and submit a video question using a tool that automatically branded the contribution with the festival logo and made it fit production values. This approach created a sense of novelty during the question-and-answer portions. Similarly, careful use of video interstitials can break up the monotony. 

Dig deeper: Master the Moment: Maximized Video Storytelling for a Remote, Digital World (ONA21, 50-minute video)

  • Experts: Rakesh Agrawal, John Battelle 
  • Takeaway: The power of high-quality journalism using video techniques is still mostly relegated to traditional cable news, but so much more is possible.

ICYMI: ONA is among the journalism organizations planning a return to in-person events in the next few months. We’re gathering the community for the ONA Insights conference Oct. 14–15 in Philadelphia. Read on for the best opportunity to contribute to the programming.

We’re always on the lookout for helpful resources and tips. If you have other examples—ideas, best practices, or recent lessons for live journalism—to share, please reply directly to this email.

Let’s celebrate a behind-the-scenes journalism leader

You have just over 24 hours left to nominate an individual or small team for this year’s ONA Community Award. The selection committee is looking for someone who has been instrumental in bringing together the digital journalism community, whether by fostering connections or by building tools that help make journalists’ jobs easier. The 2021 winner(s) will join the likes of past honorees Doug Mitchell, founder and project director of NPR’s Next Generation Radio, OpenNews director Erika Owens and the Journalists of Color Slack administrators.

ONA members, submit your nominations by Thursday, July 29, 11:59 p.m EDT (3:59 a.m. UTC).

Pitch session ideas for ONA Insights

ONA is returning to in-person community events with ONA Insights, Oct. 14–15 in Philadelphia. We’re excited to hear how you would like to participate. Let us know what sessions you’d like to see around the themes of: 

  • Audience development and metrics
  • Product strategy and development
  • Reimagining newsroom culture

Have a topic you’re especially eager to discuss with the ONA community? A new approach or best practice that should be shared? A workshop you’d like to lead? Submit your session ideas through the Suggestion Box, open now through August 5.

Stat of the week: 74%

Twitter’s revenue grew 74% year-over-year this quarter, the fastest revenue growth since 2014. While the company has had a tense relationship with news organizations over issues related to misinformation—and recently, the U.S. Surgeon General accused it and other social media companies of not doing enough to curb false COVID-19 information—it has also been trying to develop new tools to help journalists.

Important dates

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

On our radar

The radar is now open for suggestions. Have you written or read a piece lately that would benefit others in journalism? We’re interested in sharing insights on trends, how-to guides, lessons from a project and other inspiration for innovation in digital journalism.
Join as an ONA member or make a donation to help sustain ONA’s mission to inspire and support innovation in digital journalism. If you’re looking to promote an event, product, job opening or other opportunity, explore options to reach the ONA community.

We also rely on philanthropic and corporate support. Contact Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer Jessica Strelitz at jessica@journalists.org to learn about the many ways to invest in our mission.