Online News Association 2009, a general takeaway

I approached the conference as an international journalist who has recently moved into online video reporting, filming and producing, with minimal blogging and design skills and lots of curiosity in what ticks on the Internet.

The loudest message I got is that building loyal and participatory communities makes for strong websites.

As one panelist noted, inviting people in and making them interact is not just putting a shiny coat of paint. It should also add genuine value.

A web audience is made of participants who can also be first-line reporters. They can be enticed to help write headlines, submit photos and video of events they witnessed or were a part of, or annotate public documents, in addition to discussing content, and starting discussion groups.

Links to Flickr accounts can be used if no other pictures of a certain event are available. The web audience is also the most effective distributor, so speakers stressed to always allow embeds. (As a journalist though, I always try to avoid being embedded myself, unless it's on at least two sides of the same story...)

In-depth, feature, creative, analytical, and investigative type of work is still needed, whether it is presented as an individual endeavor, to personalize the work, or is driven by a team effort.

Journalists can also play the role of curators, sifting through what's being offered by citizen reporters, and highlighting the most relevant.

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