Marketwired Blog

2010 AAJA conference recap: Back from the future



aaja-logoThe last Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) conference that I went to was the one in San Francisco in the early ’00s, when the dot-com bubble had just burst and I was still a graduate student in Boston. Back then, online journalism was just starting to take shape and the roots of social media (i.e., Facebook) were being developed in a Harvard dorm room, minutes from where I lived. Little did I know…

Fast-forward to August 2010 to the most recent AAJA conference, “Back to the Future,” held in Los Angeles. Technology was a major theme throughout the conference. About half of the 35 workshops involved some sort of technological angle while the other half broadened the mind or provided career guidance. Workshop topics included: The Present & Future of Online Journalism, Media-centric Design and Building Your Brand, which included Marketwire’s Director, Content & Audience Development Jonathan Evans among the panelists.

I obviously couldn’t attend all workshops. But, from the ones that I sat in on, I extrapolated some key learnings, geared toward journalists and the future of journalism:

  • People search for nouns and proper names, but tend to spell them out rather than abbreviate in queries. The same goes for mobile searches.  (i.e., San Francisco, instead of SF)
  • Rule of 3: In a 300-word story, insert 3 keywords and repeat them 3 times.
  • Interactive narratives should stand on their own, but are typically created to accompany text.
  • Concentrate on a core skill-set, but also become hybridized. For instance, journalism and video-editing or journalism and programming.
  • For Facebook click-throughs, post news content early in the week, ideally, Tuesday or Wednesday. For sharing, Saturdays are best. Time of day for optimum number of Likes: 9 am to 8 pm.
  • Users go to Facebook for entertainment purposes (52%) while 45% go to Twitter for commenting on or sharing real news.
  • The half-life of a tweet is 4 minutes. The half-life of a Facebook post is not known, but don’t stress out about it.
  • 97.9% of all tweets go absolutely nowhere.
  • Free tools to create simple interactive narratives, including VuVox.com, Dipity.com and Photopeach.com.
  • All journalists should have a working knowledge of Excel. You don’t need to be an expert, but it helps to know how to insert clean data for graphics, charts and other visuals.
  • If you have an iPad, check out Flipboard, which scrapes websites and provides on-demand layouts of content and simultaneously pulls in social media elements.
  • Journalists don’t have to learn the intricacies of HTML5, a more robust form of HTML. Rather, understand how it can affect what you’re doing. What is your story going to look like on a BlackBerry vs. an iPhone? Those limitations are important to understand so that you can package your story accordingly.
  • Throughout the world, mobile is not creating a digital divide, despite the idea that cell phones are luxury items. According to Yahoo!, Jakarta, Indonesia, an emerging nation, is the No. 2 market for Yahoo!’s mobile platform.  Mobile is becoming ubiquitous, even in poorer countries, because of low price-points and high competition. Laptops are too expensive and the infrastructure is not there to support them.
  • “If the news is that important, it will find me.” A college student tweeted this, not realizing how profound his statement really was. Two different workshops shared this with their audience as a testament to how people perceive and find news.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Technology is enhancing journalists’ ability to tell their stories while transforming and revitalizing the industry so that journalism, in a sense, is reinventing itself and continually evolving.

Did you attend the AAJA conference? What other tidbits of information do you recall? Which workshops had an impact on you? What do you think journalism will “look” like in three years? Two?

Join Marketwire at our last stop this year on the journalism conference circuit at the Online News Association’s event, October 28-30, in Washington, DC! Drop by our booth and say hello!


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