Seems like nearly every day I get a notice in my in-box about a new conference, a new initiative, a new working group that will be looking at ways that traditional media can change with the digital times. For the most part, these programs have thoughtful people who sincerely want to help news organizations change.
My worry is that they might be falling into the trap of “all talk, no action” (ATNA). I used to sit around with friends and colleagues and brainstorm for new dot-com startups or business ideas, yet they never made it out of the talking stage. We called them “ATNA Productions.” They can be fun or clever, but there’s never an intention to actually do them.
(One of those ideas, “Catferatu,” an update of the vampire movie “Nosferatu” with a cat in the lead role, at least now has a trailer online.)
On the flipside, I’m heartened when I hear about newsrooms taking concrete steps to change. That might be launching new blogs or new podcasts, or having reporters take photographs or video while on print assignments. Or when broadcast outlets pay more attention to their websites, archiving video and setting up ways for viewers to contribute.
So I’ve decided to contrast some of the places where talk is happening, alongside some of the people who are walking that talk. This is not meant to be a slam against the talk, because it’s important for us to talk about ideas, network and find solutions to common problems. I hope that more people who are gathering to talk will think about the important “next steps”: taking action.
Talk: NewsTools2008 conference at Yahoo, a “mashup of journalists, technologists and entrepreneurs” from April 30 to May 3. (I’m planning on being there to cover it for MediaShift.)
Action: EveryBlock, a startup from journalist-techie Adrian Holovaty that mashes up local databases — from crime to photos to Craigslist ads — and maps them according to street or ZIP code.
Talk: World Editors Forum in Sweden from June 1 to 4, including a panel about whether Web 2.0 will birth a new form of collaborative journalism.
Action: BeatBlogging.org, in which 13 news organizations are having reporters create social networks or email lists for their sources, readers and experts in their field to help them report collaboratively.
Talk: Ad:Tech show in San Francisco from April 15 to 17, looking at innovative ways that online marketers are reaching audiences.
Action: PopURLs Blue Edition, in which the PopURLs site created a special edition of the news aggregator focused on information technology and sponsored by Intel.
Talk: Symposium on Investigative Reporting at the University of California-Berkeley on April 26 to 27, through the school’s Investigative Reporting Program. There will be panels such as “Is There a Future for Investigative Journalism?” “Investigative Reporting on the Web?” and “Are Non-Profits the Answer?” (I plan to attend the event to find out if they have any answers to these questions and to blog about it for MediaShift.)
Action: The Center for Public Integrity has been producing amazing investigative work as an online non-profit since 1990, including the Buying of the President series that looks into the influence of money in politics.
Talk: New Media Expo in Las Vegas from August 14 to 16, with hands-on tutorials for creating audio podcasts and video reports.
Action: Mogulus, a startup site that combines live video shows and chat rooms, not to mention the “Grid” on the home page with 26 live feeds.
Talk: NAB show in Las Vegas from April 11 to 17, a massive gathering for TV broadcasters, the “ultimate destination for media professionals powering the future,” according to the pop-up NAB chief (visit the site and you’ll see how he pops up on the screen).
Action: LiveNewsCameras, a site started by the local Fox TV affiliate in Chicago that shows you satellite feeds from around the country and the world — along with a site “moderator” on camera and a Twitter feed.
What other conferences or panel discussions did I miss for events coming up? What other efforts have you seen of newsrooms walking their talk? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list above, with credit to you.