Saturday, September 13, 2008

The 2008 Online News Association Conference

The 2008 ONA Conference began this week (A conference for people who work or have interest in on-line media and news.)- September 11th-13th in Washington D.C. The conference is sold out and lucky attendees will be involved in workshops, many discussions on multimedia tools, merging newsrooms and also a packed tutorial on "Social Networking and the News," which will be mulling over the building of such tools as Facebook applications and the common mistakes that are made when integrating social networking and the news.

Being a current college senior at The University of Massachusetts ,I am inundated daily with talk of Facebook and the less popular MySpace. It has drawn attention from the terrestrial news organizations and their development teams. Some reasons why? Because Facebook is one of the top sites on the internet, and because the advertisers much desired after age bracket- the 18-24 year-old's, are the main group who are populating it. Their are many advantages to the media using Facebook such as creating a community; linking journalists and their audience, but there are also questions concerning Social Networking Sites and the use by journalists. This is a unique time in media's life and the ONA Conference is exploring and testing the choppy waters.

Another area of multimedia journalism the conference is covering is the tapping into of User-Generated Content. I think the aspect of "Citizen Journalism," is quite an interesting one- with all its advantages, such as giving the audience unprecedented power which in turn creates community and ubiquitous, broader coverage (and striking photos) of important stories. But the downsize is the problem of journalistic ethics, reliability and accuracy, and objectivity.

"Starting a conversation with the audience, comments and user interaction can lead to interview sources and story ideas as well. To make this happen, a two-way relationship can be fostered through discussion groups, interactive blogs and responses to readers' comments." This is a quote on ONA's site from Morgan Phelps who covered the conference. I personally believe in the power of citizen journalism and user-generated content, and the idea Phelps mentions about the creation of story ideas and interviewing sources is an end to unilateral reporting.

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