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Oct. 5, 2009, 1:07 p.m.

ONA09: Recapping Friday’s sessions through the live lens of Twitter

We just returned from San Francisco and this year’s Online News Association conference; it was great meeting a lot of the people I know primarily through their Twitter avatar or URL. There was a lot of interesting material in the panels, and the most interesting nuggets found their way onto Twitter, where a significant fraction of every gathered audience was busy spreading what they were hearing to their followers.

The beauty of Twitter is that it’s a (mostly) public medium, so with a little searching, you could reassemble each of the panels at ONA as experienced by the audience in realtime. So that’s what I’ve done below: Here are the Friday keynotes and panels from ONA, which feature everything from augmented reality to Google Analytics to QR codes to Facebook Connect to DocumentCloud to tag bundles. Tomorrow I’ll sum up Saturday’s sessions.

If you’re interested in more info on any panel, you can search Twitter for its hashtag (in parentheses after the panel’s title). And check out the ONA schedule page, which is adding copies of many of the presentations made by the panelists.

9 a.m. keynote: Evan Williams, Founder/CEO, Twitter (#onakey)

[Liveblog here.]

ONA09: @ev and @smernit are discussing trends in Twitter among journalists. Liveblog: | Livestream:
MacDivaONA: Among Twitter’s goals are to improve the information filtering. Tools and functionality for that are on the roadmap.
cpoff: Twitter founder to ONA crowd: Don’t look at us with envy. We make less money than you do.
tgdavidson: @ev: Pursue ideas you love, not just those that some MBA friend finds thru analysis; don’t be afraid to fail.
tgdavidson: @ev Use the cheap, emerging tech tools (or go to ODesk to find your coders). But choose your partners w/ care.
tgdavidson: Q.: Ever a time when the API access won’t be free? @ev: “I don’t think so.” Network effects are key – but need guidelines.
aherz: How did @ev come up with ‘Tweet” and ‘Twitter’ names? SMS buzzes made them twitch – ‘twitter’ was below that in dictionary.
aherz: “What are you doing” will be changed to seem less trivial. @ev – Will likely be changed to “What did you have for breakfast?”

10:30 a.m. sessions

Yep, Text Still Matters (#onastory)
Let’s face it, writing for the Web isn’t the same as writing for The New Yorker. What special tricks and techniques should you employ for online readers, including search engine spiders? We’ll highlight how to do it right — and wrong — and tips for improving your own Web writing.
Amy Eisman, Director of Writing Programs, American University School of Communication
Chris Barr, Senior Editorial Director, Yahoo!
Michael Gold, Partner, West Gold Editorial
Hoa Loranger, Director, Nielsen Norman Group

RheaB: people tend to skip images on web page while focused on getting info from web pages.
joeruiz: People scan first two grafs, sentences, words, etc., in news stories. F-pattern down the page.
gigabit1: @aiesman: Format pages to facilitate scanning. First two words, first two grafs are key to readership.
joeruiz: Michael Gold cites saying: Web readers lazy, selfish, ruthless. Know what they want. Formatting, ease of use important.
RheaB: Chris Barr of Yahoo: “Typos erode the trust of the reader.”
shinchpearson: Expert says to write at an 8th grade level on the web.
RichJaro: Yahoo presentation interesting. 19th century copyediting meets 21st century search engine optimization.
joeruiz: Chris Bar from Yahoo! says Y! is coming out with editorial style guide sometime next year.
ehelm: Images aren’t bad but need to carry their weight. Pictures that have content work best, says Michael Gold.
joeruiz: People don’t click on right-hand rail content. Seen as secondary, lesser info. Might want to use for advertising.
joeruiz: This Yahoo! style book to include SEO for writers, web writing 101, Web-specific info. “Things AP, Chicago don’t have.”
colegoins: According to @HoaLoranger, the concept of the Word Cloud is cool, but people generally have no idea what they are.
gerrrib: Been reading the #onastory posts from the ONA09 conference. At lot of what’s posted looks like traditional copy editing advice to me.
jbatsell: Yahoo coming out with online stylebook in 2010. I smell a new required text for SMU J students.
jbatsell: Panelist at says Web audiences are “lazy, selfish and ruthless … And we love them.”

Finding Meaning in the Metrics (#onamtrx)
On the web, it’s all about knowing what your audiences are doing. With just a few metrics, journalists can understand what’s engaging people — and what’s not. This class will walk you through the essential measurements for stories, blogs, slideshows, videos, Twitter and Facebook using tools such as Omniture and Google Analytics.
Dana Chinn, Lecturer, USC Annenberg School of Journalism

brunopr: It’s not about how many people comes to your website. What manners is what people do and what they think.
MacDivaONA: Online is all about niche. When researching analytics, you need to focus on what people are doing, not pageviews or uniques.
MacDivaONA: To measure engagement look at 2 ratios & 1 proprotion: visits per unique and pageviews per visit, bounce rate.
spacejunk: Weekly visitor frequency important to determining effectiveness of publishing efforts.
spacejunk: Lone CNN representative in audience shamed by site’s high bounce rate.
spacejunk: Bounce rate of top entry pages a very important metric, illustrated by cheerful bouncy ball graphic
spacejunk: Important to pick a control group of entry pages for understanding bounce rates.
MollieKing: Web is individual – effectiveness can only be measure by combining behavioral metrics with attitudinal research
spacejunk: Video metrics difficult to measure. Using a video serving vendor can help.
mpiccorossi: Omniture/Gooogle Analytics = Census data vs. Nielsen/Comscore = Panel data. Census metaphor is a good way to describe difference.
MollieKing: There’s a disconnect between census data useful to newsroom vs panel data useful to advertising
spacejunk: Perfect tweet: around 120 characters to allow for links, RTs, hashtags, etc

Ten Tech Trends You’ve Still Never Heard Of (#onatech)
While journalists are busy looking for stories — or business models — technologists are developing new tools and sites. What are the latest tech trends that journalists should know about?
Amy Webb, Principal, Webbmedia Group

notblue: “Flock kicks the ass of information.” Hmm… I didn’t know information had an ass.
grmadryn: Amy Webb: “Mobile, Twitter, hyperlocal, UGC, Facebook, Mapping, Blogs, RSS, networks”. Top technologies now
mlouttit: Get Amy Webb’s presentation materials here:
valstreit: #2 Tech Trend = Lightblogging according to @webbmedia, mentions Tumblr
DeborahAcosta: Bing is a good example of personalized search. Amy Webb typed in the name of her husband, got a pic of her house. @webbmedia
KatPowers: people are less watching TV than they are managing video
valstreit: #2 Tech Trend from @webbmedia is personalization. Examples: Bing, Pandora, Re:Search, my6sense iPhone app
DeborahAcosta: Tech Trend #5: Identity Recognition. Picasa can bulk-identify faces. Others: GoogleContacts; @webbmedia
lisallynch: Webb: a tool on the horizon to auto-recognizes spoken voices in the way current software can auto-recognize faces
DeborahAcosta: Trend #6: Augmented Reality. Ex: Yelp Monocle; Wikitude; Living Sasquatch. “Big browser for the world.” @webbmedia
notblue: I disagree with the “hyperlocal is dumb” sort of comment. That’s what TV viewers want, esp. with weather.
smussenden: – @amywebb AMAZING tips on augmented reality. How long b4 cornea implants chips allow us to bypass cell phone cameras?:)
DeborahAcosta: Tech Trend #7: User-generated sensor data. ex: VitaminD: Identifies people and objects in videos. @webbmedia
DeborahAcosta: Tech Trend #8: MobiLife. You can scan QR codes with your iPhone. Can be used as portable hyper-links. @webbmedia
lisallynch: This makes me squirm: Offender app for Iphone locates the sex offenders situated around where you’re standing
DeborahAcosta: Tech Trend #10: Internet of Things. You can see the movement of your actual products. Like mags, newspapers. @webbmedia
lisallynch: Webb: tools that track things i.e software could enable news corps to track what happens to physical papers once ppl buy them
webbmedia: Here’s the link for resources from my 10 Tech Trends session:

Noon sessions

Your Audience, Your Advantage (#onamtrx)
Your success hinges on one thing: your audience. Who is consuming your content? How can you better involve them in your journalism and make them partners in your success? Learn how to better use metrics and how to better engage with your audience.
Amanda Zamora, Multimedia Editor, Huffington Post Investigative Fund
Paul Berry, Chief Technology Officer, The Huffington Post
Steve Dorsey, Deputy Managing Editor, Presentation and Innovation, Detroit Free Press
Eric Brown, Homepage Planning Editor,

ljthornton: Huff Post: Feedback on metrics comes in 15-minute bursts
burtherman: Huffington Post focuses on unique visitors, not pageviews, has live stats on users updating every 15 mins
ljthornton: HuffPost: One part of watching who links in is to discover possible new audiences.
burtherman: HuffingtonPost editors can do A-B testing for headlines and stories on 5 minute cycles
notblue: Talking about measuring metrics every five minutes – some measuring tools don’t do real time. How do you compensate?
ljthornton: Yahoo advice: Stay close to your mission–give your viewers info they expect to see at your site
ljthornton: More metrics than you can dive into in a year? Human evaluations key. Then turn their qualitative reactions into stats.
ljthornton: Voice and news judgment are as important as clicks (Yahoo)
ejcnet: Steve Dorsey of Detroit Free Press says study ways users interact with your product to understand how to improve experience
vanesbez: @stevedorsey Human-centered design=based on human behavior and practicality. Airplane bathroom=definite failure in design
ejcnet: When studying the users of your product “deal with extreme users, you learn things quicker that way” Dorsey said
ejcnet: For user studies, “You can learn a whole lot more from non-users than you do from users,” Dorsey said
ljthornton: Dorsey: People don’t distinguish where their content comes from, most of time. Scary.
ejcnet: Observing as few as 10 people can help you learn about the users of your product or content, Dorsey said
mlouttit: @Dorsey / Detroit Free Press: They don’t need our Web sites either. We’re all dinosaurs. No1 knows where content comes from
ljthornton: New climate: If point of view isn’t expressed, readers think it’s being hidden. (Dorsey)
laurenmichell: Advice from Steve Dorsey of Detroit FreeP : “Innovate, Iterate, Break it. Learn from it. (Repeat)”
ljthornton: Brown: Treat all destination pages as a home page. Need to keep viewers sent from Twitter, etc.
ljthornton: Think of engagement as beyond a hard metric (Amanda Zamora, multimedia editor, HuffPo)
ljthornton: Berry: Most commenters want to go to active threads. Do everything you can to start that critical mass.
ljthornton: Berry: THEN you watch it and delete unwanted comments.
TimaMedia: Making meaning out of stats: clicks are not end all be all. If you hit metrics, you should hit mission.
dorsey: A number of requests prompt me to share my slides from Friday’s Audience panel

Give Your Content Love ‘Handles’ (#onaluv)
If you think getting people to your Web site is enough, you’re wrong. You need to get your content on other sites. But how? The answers are widgets, Facebook, Twitter, and lots, lots more. This panel will teach you the tricks for getting your content in front of new users.
Kevin Maney, Author/Journalist
Josh Belzman, Senior Editor,
Lawrence Coburn, CEO, RateItAll
Joan Walsh, Editor,

emraguso: lawrence coburn: “sorry…but we don’t even think about myspace anymore.”
shinchpearson: ha, moderator just asked Joan Walsh a question about her website, Slate.
publici: Heard it before, will hear it again: People want media with a face… and reporters’ work hours get longer
RheaB: added own blogging platform 1 1/2 yrs ago – pluses are member loyalty, great user-gen content, members push out content.
publici: “Our writers are grown ups” Joan Walsh re: Salon Twitter policy (or lack thereof)
RheaB: Twitter tip: Be a person. Write about what you’re passionate about.
joeruiz: Joan Walsh of Salon says they expect their people to be personal and be adults on SM, but share. They trust their people. Thank you!
RheaB: Lawrence Coburn says protect brand by not using URL shorteners like tinyurl.
publici: @lawrencecoburn asks why not build your own url shortener. Took his company six hours to do and protects brand.
lmolen: FacebookConnect brings in real IDs to conversations around religion, political content that can get messy with anonymity
thomlieb: Social media in the newsroom: 1 – Share (Distribute content; Promote live coverage; Share others’ work; Solicit feedback)
thomlieb: Social media in the newsroom: 2 – Monitor (Hot topics; Breaking news; Experts and sources; Brand feedback)
thomlieb: Social media in the newsroom: 3 – Integrate (Add to rprting; Display conversations; Host conversations; Participate in chats)
journatweets: Walsh: “Technology matters but relationships also matter. Being a real person is important (on Twitter, etc.)”
TammiM: email still dwarfs social media distribution and don’t make readers drill down to find social media channels, make it easy
TammiM: be yourself, be transparent, take questions and follow people back (!) if you’re using social media for news/journalism
journatweets: Lawrence Coburn from recommends the use of Facebook Connect to “get the benefits of viral distribution”

1 p.m. keynote: ‘Lunch with Leo,’ Leo Laporte, host, This Week in Tech (#onakey)

[Liveblog here.]

cpoff: @leolaporte is slaying the lunch audience.
stuntdubl: When information is ubiquitous we call it media – Paul Saffo
sarahterrycobo: Even in silicon valley it takes 20 years to be an overnight success. Paul Saffo

2:30 p.m. sessions

It’s Data-Hunting Season (#onadata)
One way many news organizations are differentiating themselves is by delving into data. There are great stories in them thar databases, but you have to know where (and how) to look. This panel offers tips on where to look and what you can do once you’ve found them.
Deborah Gump, Distinguished Professional in Residence, Middle Tennessee State University School of Journalism
Bill Allison, Senior Fellow, Sunlight Foundation
Aron Pilhofer, Editor, Interactive News Technologies, The New York Times
Venise Wagner, Venise Wagner, Journalism Professor and Chair, San Francisco State University (Links, story ideas)

ljthornton: Data-hunting Season: Bill Allison, Sunlight Fdtn; Aaron Pilhofer, NYTimes; Venise Wagner, SFState U; Deborah Gump, Middle Tenn S U
KatPowers: Hmm. Data can show inequities between groups, excellent source of stories. Data is there, its people you need to tell story
MacDivaONA: I’m at panel. @venisewagner is talking about data collected on minorities the public polices that result. Important stuff.
DannyDougherty: Playing clip from TAM’s “Giant pool of money” piece used data + anecdotes to explain subprime crisis
kev097: @bill_allison says lots of gov’t data online is inaccurate. “Potemkin data.” Takes shoe-leather reporting to check.
woobie: Using data is looking for ways to explain big issues in small, incremental ways — Venise Wagner
ljthornton: Pilhofer: Document Cloud aims to share masses of data turned up by investigative journalists.
ljthornton: Pilhofer: Once you put structure around a document, you’re creating something powerful.
greglinch: Goals of @documentcloud: improve transparency, improve journalism and contribute linked data, @pilhofer says.
ljthornton: Just linking to PDFs is a terrible user experience. DocCloud wants to make them something ppl want to dig into.
DanaChinn: Documents=data & vice versa. Deal w/mounds of docs w/metadata structure Document Cloud
ljthornton: “We love Calais.” Pilhofer. “Documents go in… magic comes out.”
ljthornton: Pilhofer: Link-data universe is burgeoning right now.
KatPowers: We’re doomed: DocumentCloud requires you to spell what you’re looking for correctly :)
DanaChinn: My new fav words too: entity extraction+disambigugation
ehelm: Early alpha demo of DocumentCloud with OpenCalais semantic web goodness looks killer.
ljthornton: It was interesting watching a lightbulb go off over Pilhofer’s head at the panel. What will be find out about next year?
ljthornton: You can hear Pilhofer’s “Hmmm, interesting…” on replay of chat on Poynter Online via @meyersnews

The Legal Panel (#onalaw)
What can (or should) journalists learn from recent legal kerfluffles, such as Facebook’s recent terms of service changes? We’ll explore issues around online privacy and other pressing legal issues.
Jon Hart, Partner, Dow Lohnes & ONA General Cousel
Nicole Wong, Deputy General Counsel, Google
Sherrese Smith, Legal Advisor, Federal Communications Commission
Andy Mar, Attorney, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corp./MSN
Fred von Lohmann, Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation

shinchpearson: Small crowd at the legal panel. Shows what journalists think of us lawyers. Ha.
CICM: Foreign libel judgments that don’t have FA-style protections won’t be enforced in U.S. courts. Not the same for copyright
CICM: Disemvoweling ( gets a shout out in panel discussing changes to user content.
enriquezh: CDA 230 protects publishers even if they edit for lenght or delete UGC.Just heard “disenvowelling”:delete vowells from user comments
sona23: Reminded yet again how lucky journalists in US are to have as many protections as we do. Even online! But always read TOS.

Producing Content with Your Phone (#onago)
The new mojo travels much lighter these days. In this session we’ll show you how reporting is being done with high-end mobile devices, such as the Nokia N95, Blackberry, and (of course) the iPhone. We’ll also offer a few tips on how to get the most out of simpler phones, such the Motorola RZR, when you need to at least file a text message and a photo. Bring the phone you’ve got (or play with the demo models we’ll have on hand).
Janine Warner, Partner, Artesian Media
David LaFontaine, Partner, Artesian Media

notblue: Reporting from a mobile device is faster than television. Unfortunately, stations want to save the video for the broadcast.
notblue: Journalism toolkit – foldout keyboard, mic, small tripod, solar-powered charger + smartphone.
joeruiz: “The best camera in the world is the one you have when” the event happens.
amara_media: We use cell phones for three things: Connect with people. Save time or money. To kill time.
notblue: I think I’m the only one here who only uses her phone for sending texts & making phone calls.

4 p.m. sessions

Covering the Economic Collapse (#onaecon)
The economy — and its associated effects, from the stimulus package to job losses — is the biggest story of the year. Who is doing the best job covering it? What are they doing especially well and what cool tools are they making use of?
Alex Salkever, Senior Writer/Programmer, AOL DailyFinance
Maribel Perez Wadsworth, Managing Editor, The (Ft. Myers, Fla.) News Press
Ellen Weiss, Senior Vice President, News and Information, NPR
Rich Barbieri, Deputy Managing Editor,

emilyingram: Econ coverage needn’t be only articles: Try town hall meetings, how-to videos, live chats, links to resources
emilyingram: Tennessean reached out to 20-somethings to crowdsource what econ is like for them & give them resources:
emilyingram: Giant Pool of Money taught NPR that econ stories done right “can be delightful” and build economic literacy
emilyingram: Planet Money’s goal was to take scientist’s approach to economics and explain what was going on in plain English
kev097: Ellen Weiss: NPR’s Planet Money was originally inspired by the blog Calculated Risk
emilyingram: NPR’s Ellen Weiss: Don’t settle for first answer in interview, esp. in econ collapse where everyone is looking for someone to blame
stuntdubl: banks respond when they hear from reporters “If we could call 4 million homeowners we could solve the housing crisis” Rich Barbieri
emilyingram: Barbieri: Journos need to stick with the story. Can’t simply cover it when it’s an obvious big news situation.
christineriedel: Econ collapse improved journalism — better explainers, more humanized stories, scrutiny, more connection w/readers.
christineriedel: But panel also agrees that doesn’t absolve press of lapses before the collapse.
marykay7: “Pretty much, today, every story is an economic story.” Maribel Perez Wadsworth on Covering econ.

6 in 60 (#ona660)
Got an idea for a website, tool or widget but unsure of how to take it the next level? Come see how it’s done in the Silicon Valley in a real-life pitch-and-crit session. You’ll hear elevator pitches from 6 start-ups who are interested in funding and feedback, followed by critiques from experts who will weigh in on what looks promising and what needs to head back to the white board. Companies vie for a change to win 1:1 consultations with a VC and a product development expert who can bring their idea to life. Those attending will not only get an idea of what the hot new ideas are, you’ll also learn effective pitching techniques and how you can grow your own idea into a business.
Susan Mernit, Co-Founder, Pink Garage
David Cohn, Founder/Director,
Christine Herron, Principal, First Round Capital
Mary Hodder, Founder, Wellness Mobile

pachecod: Listening to “6 in 60” pitches at . First up, Suzanne Yada with CalendarShot.
pachecod: @suzanneyada: Goal of CalendarShot is to make it as easy to submit a calendar event as it is to post photo on Flickr.
smussenden: Good startup tip Christine Herron: hard to build one audience, harder to build two, must prioritize which audience comes 1st.
pachecod: Next up in 6 in 60: The Stroome Solution to get timely relevant stories online.
greglinch: Enhanced online video editing exists for advertising, but not for news. Strange, but not surprising. (via @yurivictor)
laurenmichell: 2nd pitch at is Stroom – collaborative CMS-like system for journos. Features: browser-based video editing, alert system, subgroups
woobie: Stroome sounds a lot like Kaltura and Basecamp mashed together.
pachecod: To paraphrase Evan Williams @ev from this morning, I want to see stroome solution in the world. I would use it.
ejcnet: What’s the monetary incentive for individual videographers to upload their stuff for sharing if they aren’t working in a team?
greglinch: Sacramento Press is small startup site focusing on local/hyperlocal news. Stories constantly coming in. Convos, not comments.
greglinch: 2nd pitch called Stroome & there’s already a site in beta: (via @laurenmichell)
laurenmichell: 3rd business pitch is a news hub described as a “mix between citizen journalism and traditional media.”
pachecod: Sacramento Press sells “tag bundles” for advertisers. So smart — had this idea for Bakomatic years ago, but we never realized it.
pachecod: Sacramento Press is bringing in $10,000 a month.
woobie: Hyperlocal sites thrive on energy and passion of those few staff and those giving heart and soul). Can you “sell” that to others?
yurivictor: Anybody else playing venture capital bingo? “We have good projections” “Someone already does this? Oh?”
stevejfox: I’m not really hearing innovation at 6 in 60. More about cool whizbang tools but not hearing innovative ways to do journ.
ejcnet: Thinking about Stroome at reminds me of Beamups where VJs can sell their stuff
laurenmichell: RT @burtherman: Pitch advice: Show the product early/first, talk about the user need being met, live demo better than slides
woobie: Would a donorschoose method of funding work? Put up story idea, give it deadline &price. Not enough $, people donate to another idea
mathildepiard: Exactly what I thought RT @smussenden pitch on text msg funded investigative reporting sounds like a mobile twist on
smussenden: Your Local News Desk “alternative to expensive” wire services. and more.
laurenmichell: Final pitch: aka “Your local news desk.” A new public media network built on a hybrid income/philanthropy biz model
smussenden: – vote totals 7 for cal shot, 37 stroome, 30 for sac press, 2 for mobile, 24 for news desk
lisawilliams: Christine Herron points out that collaborative video like Stroom is cool, but that there’s no sales model: nobody wants to pay.
lisawilliams: Christine Herron: Sacramento Press has the most going for it as an ongoing concern, but not as a scalable business that can spread.
smussenden: – judges say – Hodder: likes Sac Prss best (has revenue coming in now, most viable immediately).
smussenden: – Judges vote final total: sac press wins! Good choice.

From Flip to Web Via iMovie (#onavideo)
Tired of learning to be a documentary maker when you really just want to take a video clip and get it to your users without fuss? Web video can do just that with the right tools and know-how. This class will focus on video work for online journalists who want to turn around a story using a Flip camera and iMovie (with, yes, limited editing!).
Tiffany Campbell, Producer for Enterprise,

spacejunk: Tier 1 video: should take no more than 1-3 hrs to shoot and produce. Designed to drive traffic.
DanaChinn: Only have 5-10 sec to hook someone with web video. Lead w/best shot no matter what it is. T.Campbell
journatweets: Campbell: Most important rule about good editing? It starts in the field, w/ good shooting, knowing what you are shooting
journatweets: : for tier 1 video, plan ahead to get the shots u need and don’t shoot more than 15 mins. total
journatweets: : The best editors build their video around their best clip, soundbite, natural sound or visual
journatweets: – Why a Flip 2 shoot vid? It saves time in importing, editing, it is also non-intrusive.Drawbacks: lower pic + audio quality
journatweets: Didn’t know ab this: new stabilization feature in iMovie lets u fix shaky footage.
journatweets: Another tip when using iMovie when editing video: go to Preferences, click on “Show Advanced tools”
rohanjay: great tips for Mino Flip neophytes like me on at , but too late for my first feeble effort ( last week.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email ( or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Oct. 5, 2009, 1:07 p.m.
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