ONA10, Washington DC

ONA10Two days, 1,300 journalists, hatfuls of awards (though, sadly, not for the BBC) and a blizzard of panels, workshops, keynotes and show-and-tells made for an exhausting, if stimulating annual conference in DC.

There were lots of highlights, but I’m going to pick out two and provide a few links to the rest.

The first came from a meeting with Vericorder CEO Gary Symons, who’s been leading the charge on MoJo, or mobile journalism.

The former CBC journalist has helped develop what the company calls “the world’s most advanced iPhone mobile media applications for recording, editing and sending files”.

Gary was CBC’s go-to guy for rapid coverage from the field of fires, explosions, crashes and disasters, and the expertise he acquired along the way has been poured into the software – it’s designed by a journalist for journalists.

He’s now pushing ahead with a major hyperlocal project in Canada and also touting a freelance journalism marketplace called findstringers.com

While the stringer network idea is nothing new, the clever bit is its back-end integration with newsroom systems.

The second conference highlight came from a session about shooting video with a DSLR and it was the work of independent film-maker Danfung Dennis which struck me.

His hour-long documentary about US involvement in Afghanistan, Battle for Hearts and Minds, showcased better than anything the power of great storytelling using a digital camera.

Embedded with Marines in hostile territory, his combat footage was shot on a Canon 5D and with only one lens (24-70, f 2.8) to avoid problems with dust in the body and to avoid missing the action.

For audio he used a Sennheiser shotgun mic (ME-66) and a G2 wireless system, though at that stage the technicalities became a bit like listening to fly fishermen talking Gold head wets and Cat’s Whiskers – a bit overwhelming.

Danfung also spoke about combining the aesthetics of still photography with cinematic storytelling and how that shaped his approach to the subject.

Fellow panellists Rii Schroer and Travis Fox had different kit solutions and less lofty approaches but showed equally impressive skills.

Rii presented a quirky feature piece, shot in a day, about the World Snail Racing Championships in Norfolk which she did for The Sunday Times, and Travis Fox showcased a Frontline package on highly decorated Haiti buses known as Tap Taps.

Now think about how this kind of work might plug into YouTube Leanback or Google TV, where individuals can become channels in their own right or their content can be reaggregated into underserved niches. The iPTV revolution is gathering pace.

Some other conference highlights:
Amy Webb’s top 10 tech trends
The top 10 lessons for hyperlocal journalism
Is Patch evil?


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