ONA Unconference pitches cover gaps, add hands-on sessions

The awesomeness that is ONAuncon is getting underway. We have received some exciting pitches so far and I’m truly torn which one I like best.

Who wants to host a session? Lots of people, it turns out. (Photo via Knight Foundation on Flickr)

There’s the session about Tumblr, from, oh, Tumblr itself. Joan Van Tassel offer to take you into the mind of a crisis-covering videojournalist (excerpt: “I’m shooting handheld with a prosumer HD camera in March 2003 Baghdad, listening to gunfire and bombs going off, choking on smoke. What am I thinking? ‘wide shot, pan left; wide shot, pan right; medium shot, soldier running; close-up, feet running…’”).

There’s the immediately practical: Yes, journalists should know math, and Greg Linch and Daniel Bachhuber are willing to school us. Another session will tell you how not to get sued for using things you found on the Internet.

Newsrooms are changing quickly, and new skills are needed to get the latest information to your audience. Tony Haile and Dawn Williamson of Chartbeat want to dive into how the lightning-fast flow of information is changing how your gather, present, and adapt news for your audience. Coding whizzes Heather Billings and Michelle Minkoff are ready to tango through Django with you for the basics in building sweet news apps.

Then there are the more philosophical questions of whether machines make better editors, and how we can find new ways to fund serious journalism.

While attendees are bound to be busy checking in on Foursquare and tweeting their observations, Jim Colgan reminds us not to forget those in our audience who aren’t as into new technology. While smartphone users make up 98 percent of ONA’s members, according to a rough estimate by me, nationwide only a third of people have “smart” phones. Colgan wants to show us “smart ways to use dumb phones.”

But what are you going to do after you get home from ONA11 and have to teach yourself everything you still don’t know? To help you keep up with what’s new in journalism, Shannon McFarland is planning to host the “university of self-learners.”

Still think we’re missing something? Get your creative juices flowing and pitch your own session. Ideas can be submitted until Thursday afternoon.

All of these awesome pitches are vying for one of only three spots during the unconference on Saturday, and boy am I glad I don’t have to pick. That’s up to you, the attendees! By Thursday evening, we’ll open up voting and you get to pick your three favorites. Winners will be announced Friday night.

Follow the ONA unconference tumblr for the latest, and check the #ONAuncon hashtag.

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