ONA: New site for them, new role for me

New ONA site
New ONA site

Tah-dah! Another social network!

The Online News Association officially launched their new Web site (see right) Monday evening.

If you’re a member with full access, or even a non-member just perusing, you can tell this site is big step forward.

Here are some of the features, as outlined in an e-mail from ONA President Jonathan Dube:

  • Networking features, including discussion groups that connect members by region and area of interest, giving you the ability to have one-on-one conversations and to chat in real time.
  • An easy-to-navigate membership directory – searchable by name, type of organization, areas of expertise, and more – enabling you to more easily network with people with common interests.
  • A Career Center that allows members to post and search job openings.
  • A new training section with innovative digital presentations tagged by topic, source and medium. This section features videotaped sessions from ONA’s sold-out 2008 annual conference, with tips on the latest techniques in multimedia storytelling from the New York Times, Washington Post, USA TODAY and the BBC, among others.

So why I am blogging about this? Earlier this month I was asked to be the student group discussion leader, a role I enthusiastically accepted. 

I’ll be posting there a couple times a week in order to start conversations on topics such as classes, cool projects and internships. The group has six members so far, including two pros. 

If you’re a student ONA member, please join us!

If you’re a student interested in online journalism, I highly recommend joining ONA. I joined in April and think ONA is a group often overlooked by student journalists (read about membership benefits).

For only $25 a year, you can’t say no.

One benefit is that you get a heavily discounted conference registration — we’re talking less than half the pro rate.

And if you saw my posts or tweets about this year’s gathering in D.C., you’d see why the experience is so valuable. I went to a number of great sessions, but more important are the connections you make.


As someone in the midst of an internship – and soon job – search, I can’t emphasize that enough.

ONA 2008: Starting from Scratch – Las Vegas Sun


Josh Williams, new media projects editor, Las Vegas Sun

Tyson Evans, design editor, Las Vegas Sun


(There has been a lot of discussion of the Las Vegas Sun site online, but here is a tour from two guys who helped create the site.)

They launched the new site using Ellington (Django-based) on Jan. 10, choosing that date to capitalize on the national attention around the caucus. They previously had no videos, no blogs and no comments.

They are only an eight-page paper daily. They had no guidelines when they started redesigning the site.

Videos are 998 pixels wide; you can download in standard or hi-definition.

Videos are fully integrated into their content management system. They mostly shoot video on the Panasonic HVX200.

Photographers only have to upload photos and audio — CMS automatically creates slideshow.

Panoramic feature that features different audio depending on where you navigate in the panorama.

There is a feature built into the CMS that allows Web producers to pull something directly from YouTube or Flickr and embed on the site.

They’ve avoided the broadcast model in doing Web video [their videos are pretty sweet].

What’s next?

They are preparing for video to move to an IP-distributed system (look at the Ethernet jack in the back of your digital cable box). Also, they’ve partnered with a local TV station because they know most people in the city are getting their news on TV, not in print.

Check out

How did they do it?


  • Javascript, Google Docs, Linux, API, Djano, Python, RSS, CSS, XHTML, Final Cut Pro, Ajax, HD video, Flash, etc.

“Agile Development”

  • Semantic, accessible and standards-driven
  • Separating content, logic and presentation
  • Software that fosters quick creation
  • Etc. (too many to type here)


They brought production, editorial and programming people together and do it all in-house. They showed a diagram to display how the 40-person team came together.

Production people almost never enter CMS — they create the apps for the content gathers to use.

They update the software everyday.

They aren’t tied to any old legacy programming technologies, such as ASP or PHP.

Advice for student news site

  • Evans: Look for open-source solutions, such as WordPress.

UPDATE (Sept. 13): Check out Mindy McAdams’ post about the sesssion.

ONA 2008: Like Minds session

I’m using Twitter to liveblog this session, which opened with Anthony Moor, managing editor for interactive at the Dallas Morning News. His presentation will be online at Slideshare.net and on ONA’s site.

Check out what I’ve been writing: #ONA08 tweets and Moor tweets.

We just started the newspaper breakout part of session, which will be led by Jennifer Carroll, vice president for digital content at Gannett. See the newspaper breakout and Carroll tweets.

Conference craziness: Looking back at SPJ and forward to ONA

It’s conference season, folks! Get out your complimentary tote bags and notepads.

Greg meets Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward at SPJ 2007.
Greg meets Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward at SPJ 2007.

Last Thursday through Sunday, I attended the Society of Professional Journalists convention in Atlanta, Ga. This is the second SPJ national convention I’ve attended — the first being last year’s in D.C.

The sessions at this year’s conference offered much more in terms of online, multimedia, blogging, etc. and I say kudos to that. But my gripe was that there was no Wi-Fi available in the conference center, so liveblogging was not possible.

Instead, I tweeted most of the sessions I attended using my phone. Check them out @greglinch or search for all SPJ-related tweets (greglinch + SPJ08 can be found here).

Other people who did some good tweeting:

For more about the convention, check out the stories written by the Working Press.

Looking forward, I’ll be flying to Washington, D.C. tomorrow evening for my first Online News Association conference. There will be Wi-Fi in the conference areas, so stay tuned for some liveblogging and tweeting.

I had thought about doing some livestreaming video, but — as some of you know — my MacBook Pro is being disagreeable and I’m back on my old HP laptop.

If you’re going be at ONA and want to meet up, direct message me on Twitter or contact me. Hope to see you there!

ONA-related links