Tag Archives: ONA08

Thursday at the Online News Association conference: “I think I’m following you”

(For more on ONA08 as it’s happening, check for Tweets here. And I’ll be updating Twitter myself throughout the day. This is a quick, non-exhaustive recap as I don’t have much time before I need to catch my metro.)

Among the bloggers/Twitter users I’ve long talked to or read online and finally got to meet in person Thursday: Erica Smith, Elaine Helm, Patrick Thornton, Greg Linch, Kevin Koehler, Jay Rosen, Jim Ogle, Patrick O’Brien, Patrick Beeson, Josh Korr, and Chrys Wu. I’ve spotted a few more, and hope to track down others in the next few days. Always great to place a face, handshake, and some semblance of their off-line personality to a Twitter account.

The main highlight of Thursday — aside from meeting those folks — was the job fair. (Don’t worry, current employers, it was mostly out of curiosity and to see the state of the industry. I told everyone I like my current job.)

It really was an interesting glimpse.

The big newspaper Web sites — washingtonpost.com and nytimes.com — weren’t really seeking reporters with Web skills. They sought either a reporter OR a web person. As a reporter who has spent a long time developing my Web skills, that was disappointing to hear.

It was an enlightening conversation with Nancy Sharkey, the the senior editor of recruiting at the New York Times who also recruits print journalists. She said the Times hires most of its reporters as twenty-somethings, enabling them to grow up in the New York City pressure and the Times pressure, instead of subjecting them to it late in their career. She also offered this three-part checklist for any reporter who dreams of making it to the Times, saying that your clips should display:

  1. Strong analytical skills.
  2. Reliable breaking news skills.
  3. A unique, personal voice.

Other events of the day:

— One of the more interesting conversations came over lunch with Jim Ogle, who I’ve long followed on Twitter. As the general manager of , he’s found that using social media has really launched the participation on his site past the bigger stations in his chain. It was fascinating to hear what he’s done, and if I have time I might try to get him on camera to talk about it.

— Greg Linch delivered the line of the day when he spotted someone sit near us in a session. “I think I follow you” was his greeting. Greg effectively Twittered most of that newspaper-based session if you’re interested.

— I love the awkwardness of introducing yourself to someone who you follow, but the other person doesn’t follow you back. There’s just a quick head nod and an “Ah…” that’s priceless.

–At night, I walked over to a reception at the Newseum with Linch, Koehler and Thornton. It was a bit swankier than this small-to-mid-sized-town boy was used to. I’ve never walked in to an event through a tunnel of at least a dozen waiters staring at me and offering trays of wine.

But despite the fact that the money spent on the reception likely could have paid my salary for a year, it was great having a social opportunity with all the aforementioned bloggers and meeting a few more.