Your picks!

This year has proven to be the biggest #ONAUncon yet! We had 24 pitches and more than 300 votes. Thanks to all who participated, whether you sent ideas or picked your favorites.

Here’s the tentative Saturday schedule (subject to change, because unconference!):

* 10 a.m.: How Can We Protect Journalists’ Sources in the Digital Era (Julie Posetti and Courtney Radsch)

* 11:30 a.m.: What Does the Social Media Newsroom of the Future Look Like? (Jack Flanagan)

* 2:30 p.m.: How $8.18 and a Sh*t Ton of Imagination Created America’s Best Football Recruiting Show (Bob Sims)

* 2:30 p.m.: Comments as Content — Fostering Audience, Best Practices and Community in Digital Commenting (Leigh Adams)

* 4 p.m.: Local Learnings from the News Landscape on YouTube (Valerie Streit)

* 4 p.m.: The Ethics of Audience Data (Clare Carr)

If the session is in bold, it will be in Michigan A+B. If the session is in Italic, it will be in Erie.

Have any questions? Give us a shout out at the #ONAUncon hashtag.

Happy unconferencing!

Voting is now open!

Choose your six favorites here. The polls close at 7, and we’ll announce the top picks later tonight.

PITCH: Comments as Content - Fostering Audience, Best Practices and Community in Digital Commenting

Reading the comment section of an online news site can be akin to opening pandora’s box, such that most people simply stay away. But data is emerging that shows how allowing users to engage directly with the story increases retention and time on page, so as newspapers struggle to stem circulation and revenue loses, why are they failing to address such a valuable space? For many, it’s simply too daunting, too scary, too unknown. But it doesn’t have to be.

Join us for an impromptu panel-esque discussion of the highs and lows of online commenting and various strategies that can help demystify the twilight zone that is the comment section.

Leigh Adams is the News Account Manager at ICUC Moderation Inc, specializing in online news commenting. Newsphile, Social Media Junkie, and Sunday NYTimes crossword enthusiast. She has written about online commenting and how to better leverage user contributions, and has an unnatural obsession with all things CBC. @aquaholicbee

PITCH: How Can We Protect Journalists’ Sources in the Digital Era

Is it possible to keep journalists’ sources confidential in the digital age? What laws exist globally to support journalists’ ethical obligation to protect their sources from unmasking? To whom do these laws apply? How are legislative protections being adapted to digital realities? And what are the potential consequences of this shifting landscape for acts of investigative journalism? These are some of the questions to be interrogated in a significant study being undertaken by the World Editors Forum for UNESCO.

Titled UNESCO Internet Study: Privacy and Journalists’ Sources, the project, just launched, is being led by WAN-IFRA Research Fellow Julie Posetti, who is an Australian journalist and journalism academic from the University of Wollongong, currently based in Paris with the World Editors Forum.

The main purpose of the research is to map changes in legal protections for journalists’ sources globally, and the effectiveness of them, in the context of the changing digital environment. Ultimately, we will also make recommendations for better global practice and protections to be published by UNESCO.

We want your input #ONA14 and the best way to contribute up front is to vote for this unconf pitch!

Julie Posetti is an award-winning internationally-published journalist and journalism academic. A former ABC (Australia) broadcaster, presenter and national political reporter, Posetti is now a journalism academic at the University of Wollongong in Australia, where she teaches and researches in the areas of social, convergent and broadcast journalism. This year, she is enjoying life in Paris as the inaugural WAN-IFRA Research Fellow where she recently wrote and edited the Trends in Newsrooms 2014 report on which her current PBS MediaShift blog series is based. A social media early adopter, she is also completing a PhD dissertation titled The Twitterisation of Journalism.

PITCH: Media Manipulators: How not to Regurgitate Press Releases

As the owner of a Public Relations firm specializing in PR stunts, I’ve used all kinds of tricks to get coverage and favorable exposure for my clients. I’ll give you an inside look at the world of PR, share some of my ‘tricks’ and how to spot common PR tactics. Also, I’ll share how technology has made PR tricks much easier. In an age where reporters are often expected to churn out lots of content—I will talk about ways to spot PR tricks quickly. Reporters and editors even veterans will find this an entertaining and informative talk.

Adam Swart is the CEO of Crowds on Demand, a strategic PR firm which he founded in October 2012. Before starting Crowds on Demand, Adam worked for Patch, in product management positions at various Bay Area start-up companies, and as a political organizer for campaigns including Jerry Brown’s successful election as Governor of California in 2010. In his free time, he loves running, mountain climbing and traveling. He has made it to six continents and is still working his way to Antarctica.

PITCH: Surveillance & Source Protection: Protecting the Right to Report

Is it possible to keep sources confidential in the digital age? Why should you as a journalist care about data retention policies or the emerging Internet of Things? Have you taken steps to protect yourself, as an online journalist, from government surveillance? Why should you care what a social media platform’s privacy policy is? Do you regularly use encryption?

This session will discuss emerging issues at the nexus of surveillance, data retention and data localization, anonymity policies and the emerging challenges to journalistic processes, such as source confidentiality, that the movement towards the internet of things, disclosure of user data and content data, tracking and the “right to be forgotten” pose to online journalism in particular. Indeed this constellation of technological development could make it virtually impossible to provide anonymity or source protection unless safeguards are put in place and journalists take proactive measure to protect themselves, their sources, and the integrity of journalistic processes. Most journalists, for example, don’t use encryption, even national security reporters!

We will explore digital security resources available to online journalists as well as advocacy efforts underway to create legal and policy safeguards, including the Right to Report in the Digital Campaign (#RightToReport). The campaign aims to prevent the targeted surveillance of journalists and media outlets and the aggressive prosecution of journalists and whistleblowers, which has reached unprecedented levels under the Obama administration and is unlikely to slow down under subsequent administrations without significant pressure.

Courtney Radsch is Advocacy Director at the Committee to Protect Journalists and has worked for the New York Times, Al Arabiya in Dubai and the Daily Star in Lebanon. She holds a doctorate in international relations and is turning her dissertation, Digital Dissidence and Political Change: Cyberactivism and Citizen Journalism in Egypt, into a book.

PITCH: Phase Change: Understanding the 3 States of the Reader-News Org Relationship

News organizations often make the mistake of putting the same editorial weight on their content regardless of how that content is reaching the increasingly sophisticated and gadget-equipped reader. But not all of these interactions are created equal.

This talk will break down three overall phases of a reader’s relationship with a news organization, which changes depending on the time of day, the day of the week, or the device he or she happens to have on hand while watching Monday Night Football.

We will unpack the various ways that news organizations reach their readers, from the most passive ones to the most devoted fans, and will talk through the expectations of the audience in each state.

We’ll touch on newsletters, push alerts, social media, search, and yes, the Apple Watch, and give some actionable insights on how to approach each of those from an editor’s standpoint.

Think of your content like water: It may be the same H2O, but it looks and acts very differently when it’s a solid than when it’s a gas. So if you’re trying to take a drink you better be aware of that difference or you’ll get burned.

Greg Emerson is the deputy editor and head of mobile at in New York, with a passion for news analytics and mobile development. He is also a professor of journalism at CUNY-Hunter College and Long Island University-Brooklyn specializing in online news and social media. Find him on most social networks as @emersongreg.

PITCH: More Tales from the “Dark Side”: Product Management Roundtable

Building on last year’s unconference session of the same name, this is an informal venue for product managers in news organizations and those interested in the discipline to:

— Discuss the evolving role of product management in the newsroom.
— Trade insights on business trends.
— Commiserate about having to work with journalists who can’t do math. (Kidding!)
— Share advice for any numerate news nerds considering a move to the product world.
— Recount war stories and product #fails.

In many organizations, product lies at the intersection of technology, design and business. News organizations introduce an important fourth parameter — content — that fundamentally changes the role of the product manager. That’s why this session belongs at #ONA14.

After a year in product management at The Seattle Times, and many years in newsrooms before that, Eric Ulken just started a new role in digital strategy at the Philadelphia Media Network — publisher of, The Inquirer and the Daily News — where he oversees, among other things, a product team.

He has benefited from the insights and teachings of product managers who have preceded him in the field, and he looks forward to trading insights with colleagues across the industry.

PITCH: What Does the Social Media Newsroom of the Future Look Like?

The proliferation of Social Media has caused a dramatic shift in the way that news is reported and consumed. Never before has so much content been available to journalists and media organizations.

The world has become both hyper-local and hyper-global. From around the corner to around the world, Social Media takes you there. User generated content is “boots on the ground.”

Is all of this information a blessing or a curse?

The 24 hour news cycle demands newsrooms create greater efficiencies in discovering breaking and trending Social Media news.

Let’s discuss the reality of “too much information.” How can advancements in technology help journalists and newsrooms detect breaking Social Media news as it happens, as well as, find that “needle in the haystack?” Most importantly, how do we generate the news and content that is most relevant to our audience and get it quickly online, on-air, or on mobile?

Jack Flanagan is the Chief Revenue Officer for Timeline Labs. He is responsible for leading the sales efforts and strategies with leading media companies, brands, and agencies. Prior to Timeline Labs, Mr. Flanagan was the Vice President of Sales for Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics company. Mr. Flanagan joined Bluefin Labs pre-revenue and scaled the business leading to a successful acquisition by Twitter in February 2013. Mr. Flanagan was also Executive Vice President at comScore, globally responsible for the Media Metrix division. Mr. Flanagan graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with a Business Degree in Marketing.

PITCH: Make a Game: Cyber Security for Journalists

In this hands on session, we’ll brainstorm a game as we learn to incorporate new cybesrecurity and privacy measures into our newsrooms — wihout feeling creepy.

Our goal will be to create a “learn by doing” environment where we have fun as we explore important issues.

We’ll use brainstorming techniques similar to those used in Silicon Valley.

Larry Dailey is the Donald W. Reynolds Chair of Media Technologies at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Reynolds School. He was a charter member of the MSNBC web news team and he has worked for several other news organizations.

Last year he led an unconference session on saving people, not journalism. The session focused on human centered design.