Immersive storytelling makes a big (and smaller) splash on the Midway

Perhaps the biggest buzz at this year’s ONA convention was Gannett and its Des Moines Register’s “Harvest of Change” series of stories that capitalized on interactive viewing using the Oculus VR headset. The computerized game platform and 360-degree camera technology dominated the back end of the Midway/exhibit hall.

It was not unusual to see attendees lined up to don the headsets and look at computer screens in a setup that resembles the old stereoscopes that our grandparents may have used. It was a massive and impressive effort by the team in Des Moines, with a huge investment in personnel, time and technology from the paper and the parent company. Read more about it in these five reports:

And a “smaller” yet very useful version

Looking for something a little more modest, something you might be able to try without a huge commitment of staff and outlay of cash for technology?

Dan Archer, a 2014-2015 Donald W. Reynolds Fellow, used the recently in-the-news shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, to demonstrate his immersive, interactive storytelling Thursday in the ONA14 Midway Bullring, and at the Reynolds Journalism Institute table daily during the convention.

His cross-platform, transmedia approach utilizes available technology and the Unity platform to create virtual worlds to tell stories from multiple vantage points — an immersive news experience. Check out a brief demo below.

Have we become slaves to analytics?

You might not expect Tony Haile, Chartbeat’s CEO, to dissuade you from slavish obsession with Web analytics, but that’s exactly what he did. As others have said before, it’s not how many or much, but how to capitalize on what you have.

“Don't abrogate management to data,” Haile cautioned. Typical analytics reward and incentive programs promote what worked yesterday, he said, but do not necessarily promote quality or creativity. “Quotas [can] stifle change, progress.”

According to Haile, data that tells you what worked yesterday will not necessarily work today or tomorrow.

“I’m not interested in saving publishing companies," he told the packed room, "but in saving journalism. We need to (re)create an economy of scarcity.”

On design/user interface, Haile offered: “Everything that makes readers turn away is bad for business.” You should read more here

Top 10 tech trends for journalists from Amy Webb

Now in its seventh incarnation, Amy Webb’s prognostications have become a staple of the ONA annual event. Some key takeaways include focusing on consumers and not their devices, thinking about how publishers can curate the news for each individual audience member, and harnessing curation tools to help enhance (but not replace) your newsroom’s reporting efforts.

Check out her slide deck:

Or read more here

And a suggestion for the next one

“The vast majority of the [Online News Association] conference was about the craft of news making, reaching and building audiences,” writes Mike Fourcher of this year’s conference. “[However], while news, through digital distribution, is experiencing some of its biggest readerships and investment ever, the truly knotty problems are not in editorial or audience growth: They’re in business models and the broader news industry’s sluggish pace to adapt to new ways to profitably serve audiences.”

Read more: The ONA conference is great, but would benefit from more thinking about the business of journalism

Highlights and wrapups from Mediashift and from NetNewsCheck.

Brian Steffens  
Director of Communications


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