BarCamp NewsInnovation Miami planning update and dilemma

It’s been awhile since I mentioned my desire to host a local BarCamp NewsInnovation in Miami, but it’s never been far from my mind.

It’s going to happen, for sure, and I’ve considered a number of options for when and where it should take place.

After much thought and discussion with a few people (special thanks to Alex de Carvalho), I see two good possibilities. I would greatly appreciate any feedback, particularly from locals who would like to attend.

Here’s the dilemma: To link with BarCamp Miami 2009 + WordCamp (RSVP) OR to link with Communication Week 2009 at the University of Miami’s School of Communication.

Pros of Feb. 21 (Comm Week)

  • Three built-in cameras for Web streaming
  • Mics in the ceiling so everyone in audience can be heard online
  • Wireless lavs for session leaders
  • Free Wi-Fi and outlets for everyone (~100 seats in the room I’ve tentatively reserved. We could go to a bigger room, but we’d lose outlets)
  • Higher student and professor turnout likely*
  • BCNI Portland will be on Feb. 21 and Daniel Bachhuber has proposed having the two hook up via the interwebs to discuss a topic

Pros of Feb. 22 (BarCamp Miami + WordCamp)

  • People will already be there, including some news folks
  • Non-journos will be there, allowing for different perspectives
  • The Arsht Center is a bigger venue
  • There’s already a ton of South Florida buzz about this, whereas Comm Week buzz is isolated to UM

Even though fewer pros are listed for Feb. 22, it seems to be a better option for BCNIM because of the type of people who already plan to attend and the fact that it’s already a well-known event. All that would be needed now is a push to get more news people to attend.

Also, I figure we could always do a follow-up version at UM if there’s enough interest.

*If it were at UM, there would be efforts to promote it local news organization and other schools.

WEIGH IN: What should we do? BCNI Miami during Comm Week or as part of BarCamp Miami?

For more info on BarCamp NewsInnovation, check out the wiki.

The transformation of global media with Craig Dubow, Gannett CEO (Comm Week)

About to commence liveblogging…
The transformation of global media with Craig Dubow

7:31 p.m.
Dubow gave an overview of changes in media consumption in the past decade and discussed where Gannett stands.

8:57 p.m.
I apologize for the missing liveblog–both of my laptop batteries died. I took notes with (prepare yourself) a notepad and pen. I also had a digital recorder plugged into the sound board, so all is not lost.

I will summarize some key points and add multimedia soon.

10:20 p.m.
Here are Dubow’s answers to a couple questions I asked him after the event. (It took longer to upload than it did to make…)

Liveblogging the Pulitzer panel (Comm Week)

Description from School of Communication site

Blog post announcing the event


Anders Gyllenhaal, executive editor of The Miami Herald and the panel’s moderator, began by giving an overview of the Pulitzer Prize. He noted that they will talk more about the craft than the actual stories.

Panelists (L-R):

(NOTE: Titles and links added after the event.)

7:26 p.m. and forward

Gyllenhaal: What do these prizes mean to the younger generation of journalists?

Sallah: “I think it’s the level of work that is required to win one of these prizes. It raises the importance of writing. It challenges you to do your very best as a writer or a reporter or an editorial cartoonist. Be the very best at your craft.”

“They help uphold the standards of our industry in way that other awards can’t do”

Oglesby: It gives journalists a reason to continue what they’re doing.

Blais: “A posh Bingo” is one way she’s heard it referred to

Morin: Gave a presentation of his cartoons and explained how his editor always mentioned the Pulitzers, but Morin never wanted to think much of it.

Ojito: Won for a series on race relations, which she said was geared for the award from the beginning–though no one explicitly said so.

“The most difficult thing was to find the people, find the characters.”


Blais didn’t understand the importance of collaboration a young reporter. She needed more eyes and ears to better understand and tell a story.

Ojito originally heard terrible things about journalism, but came to love it.

Oglesby told a story about him and Gene Miller traveling to Georgia for a story related to then-President Jimmy Carter. That experience showed him that he could do great things in the field.

“Each of you is unique. Each of you has something to offer. If you trust it and go with it, it will come out in time”

Sallah: “It’s important that people can trust you and know you are seeking the truth.”

His winning series at the Toledo Blade about Tiger Force in Vietnam taught him about the personal nature of reporting.

“Stories can turn on a dime and so much of it is luck. You need to convince them [sources] that you are there for the truth and you want to tell their story.”

There are certain parts of reporting that never die, he said. Shoeleather reporting is one of those.

Ojito: She doesn’t like going out to get general reactions to a story, but she does it.

7:53 p.m. and forward

Now, it’s on to audience questions…

Are there jobs in newspapers?

Gyllenhaal: It’s cyclical, but, “You have to work at it and develop the skills.”

Morin: Even though jobs may be sparse, as is the case with cartoonists today, send letters to editors and be persistent.

The panelists then answered more general audience questions ranging from having story ideas stolen as a freelancer to how not get too close to sources.

8:17 p.m.

Oglesby: “I think it’s very important to know yourself well and know your biases. … You need to be able to back off and get back into you objective mode.”

Ojito: “You’re not a reporter when you’re at work, you’re a reporter all the time–it’s how you live your life.”

If you look at everything, you’ll have more story ideas than you know what to do with, she said.

7:25 p.m. and forward

Blais: Advice from Edna Buchanan regarding when to stop persisting: She would call and say who she was, they would hang up, she would wait 60 seconds and call back. But what about a third time? “That would be harassment.”

Sallah: It’s even more difficult when people are grieving after losing a loved one.

“They sometimes want to open up. It’s a little bit of therapy for them. … You can really write a nice story and give his parents and friends some honor.”

You really are a psychologist in your job.

8:28 p.m.

How do you tell a source he/she can’t see your story?

Ojito: You should turn the question around, asking what they are concerned about. It’s ok to read back their quotes.

8:30 p.m.

Sallah: It’s OK to read back quotes, but you should only negotiate to a certain extent (i.e. if you’re certain about something). You can’t allow someone to backtrack from the heart of the story just because they don’t want it to be published.

“Be very careful in getting it right.”

8:36 p.m.

My question about not submitting awards or writing for awards because you should write for readers, not for other journalists–as Howard Owens and others have blogged about:

Oglesby: “This isn’t about winning awards. It’s about doing a good job and helping readers. If that is your goal, you can get satisfaction from the achievement every time. The award is not really important at all.”

Last thought:

Sallah: “Just don’t lose your heart for this. Don’t compromise.”