ONA17 sessions on newsgathering tools and techniques to help you up your game

For our final post highlighting sessions at ONA17, we’ve pulled together a robust guide to the sessions that tackle newsgathering. It should come as no surprise that this track at ONA17 has the most scheduled. We may be obsessed with new tools and technology at ONA, but we know that the bedrock to good reporting is in the journalism. These sessions are designed to help you overcome obstacles and thrive, whether it’s building trust with your audience, combating “fake news” or just learning how to interview more effectively.

Take a closer look at our newsgathering tools and techniques track:


Expert Interview Advice from David A. Fahrenthold David Farenthold’s coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign earned him the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Hear how he made the choices that resulted in such impactful stories and gain answers to questions like: How do you find new sources to talk to? How do you know when to leave the room? How do you balance talking with someone and doing a document dive? How do you prepare for the expected and unexpected? How do you know when you got “it”?

Under the Hood: IRE Takeover on Data Tricks and Tactics Our friends at the Investigative Reporters and Editors have spearheaded this “Under the Hood” session, which will begin with lightning talks to introduce experts, followed by intimate talks to dig into complex subjects. Lightning talks will focus on mid-career challenges, and then folks will break away into multiple discussions. You’ll have a chance to find out how New York Times Homeland Security Correspondent Ron Nixon, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post Investigative Reporter Kimbriell Kelly and Washington Post Database Editor for Investigations Steven Rich turn documents into data. ESPN Investigative Reporter Tisha Thompson will describe how she does multimedia storytelling with data. Or you can join Center for Public Integrity Senior Reporter Carrie Levine and ProPublica News Apps Developer Derek Willis for a discussion on tracking money and influence in the new political landscape.

Table Talks: Newsgathering Tools + Techniques Consistently considered one of our most popular events, our Table Talks are designed to get into the meat of a topic, so you can get into the details of what you’ve been working on with top minds in the field. Join this two-hour intimate discussion to talk about challenges you’ve faced and strategies you’ve employed to solve them. No preparation is necessary — this is an extremely interactive event and we encourage everyone interested to participate. Moderators include Meghann Farnsworth, Engagement Editor at Recode, and Fergus Bell, Journalist & News Consultant at Dig Deeper Media. Note: Topics will be announced closer to the conference and we are not taking questions for speakers in advance, since these are participatory conversations.

Sharing Data and Insights for More Engaging Local Journalism The right data set can lead to stories we couldn’t tell otherwise and help us tell familiar stories in new ways. Data.world Director Leonard Fishman, Associated Press Data Editor Meghan Hoyer and Data Science and News Applications Editor Troy Thibodeaux will discuss ways that reporters, editors and developers can make data more accessible to journalists within the newsroom. They’ll explain the process for using an AP national data set to create a related local story, and how audience engagement specialists can more effectively engage readers around data.


Building Trust in Online Communities How can old and new media organizations build on their strengths to engender trust in the age of endless online soapboxing, media pluralism and fake news? Speakers from the Economist, the Intercept and News Deeply will discuss their approaches to community in order to answer this question, with specific advice around comment policies, Facebook groups, UGC verification, community moderation and more.

How Bots are Deepening Relationships with Readers Chatbots are proving to be a unique way to grow and engage an audience. Speakers Emily Clark, Digital Journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Rebecca Harris, CEO & Co-Founder of Purple, Joseph Price, Senior Product Manager at The Washington Post, and Emily Withrow, Editor at Quartz’s Bot Studio, will discuss their challenges and successes with one-to-one messaging, including efforts with distributing video, audio, GIFs, polls and localized news. Craig McCosker, Product Manager of Mobile at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, will moderate.

Producing Editorial Events Ethically Events represent big revenue potential, but how do you bring together the business and editorial interests to ensure integrity of the final product? Speakers Tanya Erlach, Director of Editorial Events for the Los Angeles Times, and Agnes Varnum, Director of Events at the Texas Tribune, will discuss how an event moves from idea to presentation while keeping the business and journalism aspects in their own lanes.

Under the Hood: Connecting Our Polarized Communities In this unconventional format, you’ll get lightning talks on five projects and studies that are looking at our polarized electorate and are working to bridge the sharp political divide, followed by intimate talks to dive into tough subjects. Ben DeJarnette, Project and Product Manager at the Agora Journalism Center, and Monica Guzmán, Co-Founder of The Evergrey, will share lessons from The Evergrey’s cross-community dialogue in rural Oregon on crossing the red/blue divide. Rachel Feltman, Science Editor at Popular Science, and Jeffery DelViscio, Director of Multimedia and Creative at STAT, will talk about how they’re using science stories to reach across the political divide. Lisa Heyamoto, Senior Instructor of Journalism at the University of Oregon and Todd Milbourn, Instructor of Journalism at the University of Oregon will talk about how real people engage with journalism in the age of misinformation. Executive Editor of 100 Days in Appalachia Dana Coester and Director of Programming at Racked.com & Vox Media Annemarie Dooling will talk about how to build audience for pop-up verticals. Trust Project Director Sally Lehrman, Chartbeat Media Research Sonya Song and ICFJ Knight Fellow Janine Warner will discuss what they’ve learned from data about politics as pop and propaganda.

Government Propaganda and Media Manipulation Jessikka Aro, Investigative Journalist at the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Ruslan Deynychenko, Executive Director at StopFake.org, and Steven Luckert, Senior Program Curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will discuss how governments have manipulated public perception and the media in the past and present. They’ll also provide context to ongoing political narratives around the world. This sessions is great for political reporters from any country and those interested in how historical political maneuvering helped shape modern media interference.

How we work

Small Changes That Made a Big Difference in Local Newsrooms When you’re running a small operation day to day, newsroom transformation can feel impossible at a team or individual level. Poynter Institute Reporter Kristen Hare has traveled to local newsrooms across the country to better understand their processes. Iowa Falls Times Citizen Editor Sara Konrad Baranowski edits a 3,000-circulation twice-weekly newspaper in rural Iowa. Both will share specific steps that newsrooms have taken to make a big difference in getting great content to the community (that even large newsrooms might be able to use!).

Under the Hood: Epic Projects for Epic Newsrooms In this unconventional format, you’ll get lightning talks on a variety of big initiatives created by large newsrooms, followed by intimate talks to unpack the elements of launching a major project. In one corner, The Guardian Mobile Lab, WBUR’s Executive Director of Programming & Podcasts Iris Adler, Vox’s Visuals Editor Kainaz Amaria and Quartz’s Bot Developer & Product Manager John Keefe will share lessons from inside their news labs and what it’s like working on an innovation-focused team. In another, BBC News Head of Audience Engagement Sarah Shenker will talk about what BBC learned from 12 months of trying to reach more women. Or you can join Dig Deeper Media Journalist & News Consultant Fergus Bell and Meedan’s Director of Product An Xiao Mina to discuss designing a newsroom for collaborative newsgathering success. This session is great for reporters, editors and executives working in a national or multinational newsroom wanting a fresh perspective on how major partnerships and projects come together.

Innovations in Fact-Checking Your Government What are the latest digital tools fact-checkers are using to unearth misinformation and hold public figures accountable to the real truth? How do you build a team of fact-checkers that gets results? What is unique about fact-checking in the age of President Trump, and what can we learn from journalists who have faced these kinds of challenges for years? Associated Press Social Media Editor Eric Carvin, PolitiFact Editor Angie Holan and ICFJ Knight Fellow Omar Mohammed will help answer these questions and more.

Under the Hood: Innovative Projects with Small Teams In this unconventional format, we’ll start with lightning talks on inspired projects in local newsrooms, and what it takes to get them done even when resources may be limited. Afterwards, we’ll break into intimate discussion groups featuring real talk about what doesn’t work and tips for tackling big projects. Senior Reporter at The Salinas Californian Amy Wu will talk about surviving and thriving in a shrinking newsroom, while GateHouse Media’s Director of Innovation, Tony Elkins, and National Data Projects Editor Emily Le Coz break down how they create nationally recognized stories in a small newsroom. Director of Content at Sierra Nevada Media Group & Swift Communications Caren Roblin will be discussing how to nail your Instagram strategy and KQED Education Digital Producer Matthew Green will talk about crafting explanatory multimedia news for high school educators and students.

10 Tech Trends in Journalism: 10th Anniversary Edition! For the tenth year, Future Today Institute CEO Amy Webb will demo never-before-seen tech prototypes and provide insights into what trends will impact journalism, what tools are on the horizon and how newsrooms can use them. This session is great for executives who need to make strategic decisions about where to invest their staff time and financial resources.

Workflow Automation Tools for Newsrooms of Any Size Freelance Journalist Alessandro Cappai and GateHouse Media Director of Digital Audience Engagement Penny Riordan will walk you through what tools small- to mid-size newsrooms have used to automate processes like publishing to social media, editing video and working in the CMS. This session is great for managers looking for creative ways to integrate more of the tools their teams use daily.

Lightning Talks These are community-pitched, five-minute presentations from registered attendees framed around the prompt “Revolution…or Evolution? Tell us what your job will look like in 10 years.” Attendees submit ideas in advance and then compete for community votes to fill this slot. Do you have an idea for a lightning talk? Submit here.

What questions about newsgathering tools and techniques do you have that you’d like addressed at ONA17?

You can ask speakers questions ahead of time to help shape the conversation. If you’re curious about an emerging trend, want to know more about a topic or are hoping that speakers will dig into something during their session, now’s your chance to post a question below. We’re thrilled to be using Hearken to make this happen!

Laura handles ONA's public communications. She is also a journalist, photographer and copyeditor and prides herself on her ability to perform nearly any task in a newsroom. She lives in Los Angeles.