Thanks for a really fun time!

I’ll come back to curate and edit these notes, but for now I’m on my way home. I depart with a glow from the very positive and hopeful, yet still touching, keynote with Sesame Street.

C is for cookie #ona14 #cookiemonster #sesamestreet #ona14sesame

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“Good answers lead to more good questions” (standout)

In the Ethics of Data Viz, a gifted lecturer from U Miami presented an abbreviated version of his upcoming book about being truthful with graphics.

Alberto Cairo suggested these were the 5 features of great viz:
1. Truthful (be honest, don’t lie to yourself)
2. Functionality (be clear, and use appropriate tools)
3. Beautiful (bring attention to relevant info)
4. Insightful (reveal hidden truths)
5. Enlightening (don’t forget the primary goal is to contrubue to understanding)

“If I only use words, I am forcing you to imagine all those things in your mind,” he said. “What I am doing when I create the graphic… Is to take the effort out of your brain and put it on the paper.”

Cairo’s first pilar also brought him to the topic of ethics, asking whether a story is being told ethically as opposed to legally. He also pushed back against the “ethically dubious” Prop8 maps project and another angenda-driven cable company data project.

He called it “The modern jungle of spin dishonesty punditry and the resulting widespread mistrust.”

Ethics, he argued, depends on core goal of improving understanding of issues while trying to minimize the harm of the activity. But suggests that this shouldn’t just be a journalistic goal, should be a civic goal for everyone.

“Truth is not an absolute, truth is a continuum. We can be true and we can be truer,” he said.

Cairo supports the promise of mainstream visualization with new, free tools., but said the duty falls to us to teach good practices.


Amy Webb’s tech trends

As usual, Amy Webb presented her ten tech trends and suggestions for what to try during the upcoming year. Some are fascinating tools that may help journalists find and track stories, either from their own sites or from others.

However, some of Webb’s other ideas were a little far-fetched for the tools and budgets available local newsrooms. (I feel that journalism on the scale at which I work was largely overlooked during this year’s standout sessions, but more on that in a later post)

Here is Webb’s slide deck:


Notes from the analytics builders

NPR posted their presentation on Google docs

She also posts her running blog at:

The Guardian’s take
Graham Tackley @tacker

Emphasizes having Hack day for your staff. Example resulted in the tool that answered what is popular now. It became ophan, named for a vision from ezikiel with the “all seeing ones.”
Ophan version of chartbeat separates content from index pages
When he gets a request, he first asks “if you got that, what action could you take”
Calls analytics a “critical input to the editorial process… You could write the best piece of journalism in the world, but if nobody reads it, it doesn’t matter.”
“It’s not about chasing numbers, but the numbers are one input into the process”


Quotes from opening keynote of ONA 14

From the welcome speeches:

Meredith Artley, CNN on net neutrality: “there are some issues that make the difference between being silenced and being heard”
“If you’re not a digital journalist, now, you’re in the minority”

From panel discussion on Ferguson, Mo:

Wesley Lowry WaPo, detained in ferguson, “I don’t ever go to my job and expect to get my rights violated”
“the story isn’t even about Michael brown any more, this is a deeper story”
“The whole arc of ferguson, the power of it, is about video” WL says that is one of the reasons the story went national.
“To this day the police have not out forth a narrative of what actually happened”
“Our broad goal should be to shine the light in dark places”

Trymaine Lee, MSNBC, “There’s a clear difference in the way black or brown people die in America”
“He was armed with his blackness”
“if everything keeps calm on the streets, interest dwindles” expresses “fear that we are going to miss the heart of the story”

Claire Ward, VICE News
“If everyone is chasing the one guy getting arrested, turn around and see what’s behind you.”
on feedback from local viewers “I was struck with a sense of responsibility and urgency to do my job well”
“we’re and ecosystem of media here… As someone who covers stories around the world, I’m still listening”
“editing is manipulation, everybody does it”