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Five practical takeaways from ONA11

Online News Association

Photo by Online News Association

About 1,200 journalists attended ONA11 in Boston in mid-September. Unfortunately I was not among them, and probably many of you weren’t either. The good news is that ONA, in true online form, made lots of resources and sessions available free online. I’ve been combing through them, bit-by-bit in my spare time. I haven’t seen all of the available material, but here are five of my favorite practical takeaways so far:

Move beyond Google search. Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia, says plain old search is on the way out in favor of smarter searches with more relevant results to individual users. Google itself is giving you different results as you’re logged in, based on your Google+ data. She outlines some great new tools, and some familiar ones with fresh features that add relevance. This entire session is a treasure-trove of what’s coming online, but I’m really interested in beefing up my search habits now.

Check your sources online. Remember all those embarrassing death rumor tweets? Craig Silverman and Mandy Jenkins offer lots of helpful tips and tricks for verifying online sources and avoid getting played.

Make crowdsourcing work. Matthew Wells, Amanda Michel and Derrick Ashong did an interesting session on crowdsourcing. Key points: Engage with users. Build flexible tools. Make it fun.

“Social media is a long-term relationship, not a booty-call.” Liz Heron, social media editor for The New York Times, discusses what journalists get right and wrong about social media in a quick interview between sessions. This little quote she snagged from Felicia Day was a gem, but she also points out that journalists who excel at social media consider it a beneficial part of their work.

Augmented reality is changing everything. The augmented reality session was just really cool and inspiring. You’ll be amazed at how our devices are able to interact with our physical media and the world, and you’ll likely think of a few applications for your newsroom too.

Want more great information and sessions from ONA11? Check out the complete list of ONA11 sessions and the organization’s student newsroom coverage.

In Networking, Tools.

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