To help newsrooms and classrooms take advantage of the digital journalism movement where journalists are leveraging technology to produce new kinds of reporting and storytelling, ASNE and Poynter presented Hacking News Leadership: Part 2 to more than 40 attendees, including editors, reporters, technology specialists, educators and other members of news organizations.
The conference was part of our effort to carry out the digital outreach initiative, which we announced in September with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The initiative is for using conferences, resources and training to speed up and expand the adoption of digital tools in newsrooms.
The two Hacking News Leadership conferences, together, attracted more than 110 attendees, and both returned impressive feedback. Both generated uncountable tweets with #hackleaders that triggered multiple conversations on Twitter. A couple of cool tweets below from the public about the second Hacking News Leadership:
For a day and a half at Poynter, we showcased presentations and sharing sessions on various topics, a lunch keynote and digital tools demonstrations that were all geared toward our goal of bringing news leaders and technology specialists together to forge a successful marriage. All was possible thanks to great co-host Poynter and our generous sponsors, including the Knight Foundation, Alley Interactive, Parse.ly and Google.
Day 1 began with an icebreaker-type session in which Bill Church, executive editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and Bill Higgins, news systems editor of the Tampa Bay Times, each presented five things they wish technology specialists or editors understood. With the help of facilitator Vicki Krueger, director of interactive learning at Poynter, many people jumped in and shared what resonated from the talks.
What editors want from technology specialists
- Speak the common language.
- Understand the user experience.
- Understand editors obsess about details.
- Make time to fail small; let's test projects before they go live.
- S*** happens.
What technology specialists want from editors
- Understand publishing system in your newsroom.
- Be curious about journalism and digital publishing.
- The Web is its own training manual.
- Have courage to let staffers find a solution.
- Don't take fog for an answer when dealing with tech colleagues.
Up next was the Organizing Your Digital Toolbox session led by Vidisha Priyanka, interactive learning producer at Poynter, and Alexis Sanchez, web designer at the Tampa Bay Times. They introduced open-source tools that are easy to use with minimum technical know-how, including:
- JQuery for creating before and after projects
- Meme (used by Vox Media) for creating social sharing images
Toward the end of this digital tools session, software developer David Herrera of Alley Interactive gave a short presentation and said that curiosity about tools can stimulate good journalism.
We had a nice engaging/interacting time with lunch keynote speaker Shazna Nessa, journalism director of the Knight Foundation, who covered the role of creativity and collaboration in the shifting needs of today's newsrooms. Here are a few great lines that caught attention on Twitter:
- "To brainstorm effectively, defer judgment."
- "Brainstorming tips from @shazna: Headline your idea, build on ideas of others, stay on topic and encourage wild ideas."
- "Technology is now part of storytelling. Hacker journos aren't 'other' than journalists."
- "@shazna: I know working together is sometimes a big pain-in-the-ass. Good to acknowledge it and work through it anyway."
The first-half of our afternoon featured Chris Davis, deputy managing editor/investigations for the Tampa Bay Times, who gave a powerful presentation on data journalism and lessons learned from the Times' extensive data project "America's Worst Charities." Some of Davis' lessons, conveniently tweeted by conference attendee Steve Buttry, Lamar Visiting Scholar at Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication, include:
- Start early in collaborating with data specialists on a data project.
- Story board your plan for a data project.
- Stay true to the story and what you learn in reporting and analysis even if you have to change presentation plans.
- Data projects should be simple on the outside, complicated at the chewy center.
We wrapped up Day 1 with presentations of easily adaptable social media and news publication apps, as well as demonstrations of digital products that might fulfill the needs of editors and developers in the newsroom.
Here are links to social media tools brought to you by Meredith Broussard, assistant journalism professor at Temple University, and Amber McDonald, social media director at the Tampa Bay Times:
And here are links to other usable products:
- Timeline, Storymap, SoundCite (posting audio clips) and Juxtapose (comparing different images) -- by Ryan Graff, editor of the Knight Lab
- Videolicious (combining video clips, photos and sound) -- by Matt Singer, co-founder of
- Parse.ly (providing insights through analytics) -- by Clare Carr, marketing director
- Tableau (analyzing, visualizing and sharing information) -- by Andrew Cheung, data analyst
Day 2 was just as inspiring and energetic -- from the Digital First Workflow in Your Newsroom session by Howard Saltz, editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, who talked about the paper's workflow change in October to emphasize digital-first newsgathering and publishing, to the deep discussion on ethical challenges and decisions in the digital era by Al Tompkins of Poynter.
Thank you to those of you who attended. And many thanks to ASNE member Jennifer Orsi; ASNE Board of Directors members Jim Brady, Manny Garcia and Emily Ramshaw; and Vicki Krueger and Vidisha Priyanka of Poynter for planning and organizing the conference.
We hope we can continue to be host of influential journalism conferences that bring in people of different journalistic skills and expertise for active discussions and interactions. Visit asne.org to stay up to date with our projects and industry news.