PITCH: How the Moth can make you a better journalist

Live Storytelling and Journalism, how doing one helps you do the other

Most journalists say they’re storytellers at heart.
Maybe digital, or visual, or conceptual – but fundamentally, just a storyteller.

And we are. We’re always explaining to our friends what we’re working on, hashing out ideas with editors, talking through great story ideas with our unendingly patient significant others. And we love great storytelling when hear it: we listen to This American Life and buy tickets for the Moth and Story Collider. Maybe we’ve even attended a few nights of Risk and Taboo.

But how many of us have stepped up to the mic and told a true, first-person story in front of an audience? Now is the time.

Several newsrooms around the country are experimenting with live storytelling events, from Pop Up Magazine, to the Arizona Storytellers Project to all those live This American Life and Radio Lab shows.

This panel celebrates the idea that oral storytelling and journalism are dedicated to the same goals: creating and deepening understanding among community members, as well as reflecting and serving the communities they’re a part of.

Learn how in oral storytelling can make you a more compelling storyteller in any medium, from the real people doing it.

Questions answered:
Who is getting up on stage and why in the world would people who write, edit, code or make pictures and video want to do this?

How can talking about myself, or a story I’ve worked on, make me better at my job?

What does it look like? What are some approaches that have worked? What do you do with the stories once they’re told? What is the opportunity for growth and integration with larger publications and even brands?

In these days of increased digital connection, who cares about attending live storytelling events? What are the logistics?

What are the business models?

Megan Finnerty is the Page One reporter at the Arizona Republic, focusing on breaking and longform stories about the emotional and financial motives behind the news. She’s the founder and host of monthly nights of live storytelling called the Arizona Storytellers Project.

And she appears regularly as a correspondent on Phoenix’s NBC affiliate’s afternoon show, EVB Live, doing live shots, packages, in-studio interviews and expert commentary.

The Arizona Storytellers Project, which won a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award, was recognized for how it involves its audience, from telling their stories in print to videotaping them for online to inviting them on stage to tell at live events. The project also won a National Headliner Awards for first place in Journalistic Innovation.

Megan was named a finalist for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.

Megan feels strongly about NPR, feminism, most everything Dave Eggers does and her hair. She prefers a bold lip to a smoky eye.

PITCH: Show me (how to find) the money!

Independent (aka non-profit) online news is exploding, but who’s paying for it? Where does the money come from to support the emerging world of ad-free, online media?

I propose to lead a discussion exploring the latest strategies and approaches to securing funding for independent online media. This will be an opportunity to share best practices and explore what does — and perhaps more importantly — doesn’t work.

Attendees will leave with a new set of strategies for expanding their fundraising and revenue-generating efforts.

Todd Reubold is co-founder and executive director of Ensia - an independent, award-winning print and online magazine and events series showcasing solutions to the world’s biggest environmental challenges. One of his primary roles as executive director is to lead Ensia’s fundraising efforts with foundations, corporations and private individuals.

PITCH: How to become a diversity championin your newsroom with little or no training. This tiny workshop might be enough.

Having the right words matter, on live TV, in print, on livestreaming video and online. But when language is coded, or norms shift quickly, or the topic rarely comes up, it can be a struggle for newsrooms to know which words are appropriate, sensitive and, well, right.

This step-by-step talk is designed to turn any member of the newsroom into a guerrilla diversity champion - so all staffers have the right words, and the smartest best practices - from emails to send to training sessions to host.

As journalists, most of us are empathetic, curious and concerned with language. This how-to workshop will help you leverage those natural inclinations to avoid the kinds mistakes that lead to the traumatization of readers, and sometimes sources around language-sensitive topics like sexual violence, LGBT issues and mental health issues.

But the best practices can be adapted to confront change language preferences around any hot-topic issue, including gun violence/control, immigration and border issues and incarceration/social justice issues.

Identity advocacy and activism happens everywhere, and journalists are held accountable not to the ethics they were taught in school, but to the ethics norms, language preferences and behavioral conventions of every group of people who read your work.

This is a practical look at how, in about 15 work hours, attendees with ANY role in the newsroom can change their newsroom’s culture, language and best practices through concrete action based on test cases and real-life examples.

Handouts will include templates for sample emails, including query emails to experts, solicitation emails to newsrooms and actual stylebook and best-practice updates.

We’ll take you through the nine steps, and the timeline for executing them, that any newsroom staffer can use to make sure their editors, on-air talent, reporters and visual journalists have the right words and best interview practices to get the most sensitive, thoughtful storytelling done in any medium.

Megan Finnerty is the Page One reporter at the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, focusing on breaking and longform stories about the emotional and financial motives behind the news. She’s the founder and host of monthly nights of live storytelling called the Arizona Storytellers Project.

And for the last two years, she’s appeared regularly as a correspondent on Phoenix’s NBC affiliate’s afternoon show, EVB Live, doing live shots, packages, in-studio interviews and expert commentary.

The Arizona Storytellers Project, which won a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award, was recognized for how it involves its audience, from telling their stories in print to videotaping them for online to inviting them on stage to tell at live events. The project also won a National Headliner Awards for first place in Journalistic Innovation.

Megan is obsessed with the idea that oral storytelling and journalism are dedicated to the same goals: creating and deepening understanding among community members, as well as reflecting and serving the communities they’re a part of.

Megan was named a finalist for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.

Megan feels strongly about NPR, feminism, most everything Dave Eggers does and her hair. She prefers a bold lip to a smoky eye.

PITCH: Wear the powder. And 3 other tips every journo needs to know about crushing your next video

All reporters with a smartphone are working as video journalists today. This opens reporters up to exciting opportunities, as well as terrifying pitfalls.

It’s not super-hard to transition to being on-air TV or digital video talent, but for those without broadcast experience, newsroom training too often focuses on the tools, technicalities and point-and-shoot details.

This talk is styled like a This American Life segment, or a Moth story, designed to teach journos of all kinds how they can avoid catastrophic humiliation, career-threatening awkwardness and the kinds of segments that make even your coworkers cringe, to get the kinds of on-air moments that make your viewers laugh, cheer for you and stay riveted to the live stream or live shot to see what happens next.

This four-point talk will cover what you wish your bosses, or your friends, would tell you - from cosmetics to ice skating. After the talk, a 30-minute cringe-fest story-sharing session will follow, so we can all learn from each others’ mistakes.

Background info for organizers, not to be included in pitch…

Logistics: This presentation will be presented in the form of four tips, with short personal stories illustrating them. Total time is about 30 minutes with a follow-up Q&A. Awkward photos and clips will be shown throughout to illustrate four key lessons/embarrassments. I will use laptop, so will need a projector and screen.

Diversity: Television and video journalists are more diverse in terms of ethnicity and race than any other group of journalists. This panel helps prepare an even broader array of newsroom employees for their time in front of the camera. 

Megan Finnerty is the Page One reporter at the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, focusing on breaking and longform stories about the emotional and financial motives behind the news. She’s the founder and host of monthly nights of live storytelling called the Arizona Storytellers Project.

And for the last two years, she’s appeared regularly as a correspondent on Phoenix’s NBC affiliate’s afternoon show, EVB Live, doing live shots, packages, in-studio interviews and expert commentary.

The Arizona Storytellers Project, which won a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award, was recognized for how it involves its audience, from telling their stories in print to videotaping them for online to inviting them on stage to tell at live events. The project also won a National Headliner Awards for first place in Journalistic Innovation.

Megan is obsessed with the idea that oral storytelling and journalism are dedicated to the same goals: creating and deepening understanding among community members, as well as reflecting and serving the communities they’re a part of.

Megan was named a finalist for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.

Megan feels strongly about NPR, feminism, most everything Dave Eggers does and her hair. She prefers a bold lip to a smoky eye.

PITCH: CLICKBAIT: Headlines That Cry Wolf - Should We Use Them

Instead of using a traditional headline like, “Army Hero Saves Man on Subway Tracks,” are you tempted to use, “You Won’t Believe What This Ex-Soldier Did to Get a Medal”?

I want to discuss the implications of using clickbait headlines that lure people to click on stories they might otherwise ignore.

They do get a lot more clicks, but does it reflect poorly on a website’s integrity? Are viewers getting weary of these headlines, being let down in the past by them? Do you have standards for writing headlines, or not, and why?

Geri Weis-Corbley has been writing headlines for thousands of stories since 1997 as the founder and managing editor of the Good News Network — the #1 website on Google for “good news”. Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed the evolution (devolution?) of headlines, as websites compete for eyeballs and wonder if anyone else feels angst about employing these emotional appeals for clicks.

PITCH: What the analog humanities can teach digital journalists

Journalism has incorporated practices and methods from other fields throughout its history. Despite how fields are generally siloed, reality is much more interdisciplinary. The analog humanities offer many important lessons for digital journalists.

Take Ada Lovelace, for example. Considered the first programmer, her creativity in mathematics was partly influenced by her father, Lord Byron. She considered her field a “poetical science.”

Learn how Ada and others drew upon the humanities in their work to break new ground and how you can do the same in your newsroom.

Target audience: Anyone with an interest in the humanities.

Why pick this idea? Because we’ll talk about literature and art and music and poetry! This will be a very discussion-oriented session — not a lecture.

Greg Linch is an editor for data and technology projects on The Washington Post’s local desk. Before the Post, he worked on two start-ups: Publish2, which offers software platforms for newsrooms, and CoPress, which aimed to help college news organizations thrive online. He serves on the Online News Association’s board of directors.

PITCH: The role of social media in FATA paan kist

The federally administrated tribal area (FATA) is Mountie area of Pakistan where  the locale Taliban are active in their terrorist activities. The inhabitants of that area are using social media very effectively for the ,and by, the source of information and playing a vital role in peace restoration.

My name is Abdul Qayum Afridi working as a journalist with different national and international media organizations covering FATA and Khyber pukhtonkhwa province of Pakistan i-e militancy, culture , and education beats now i am currently associate with a online news organization WWW.zamakhyber.com . 

PITCH: The Toxic St Kilda Schoolgirl

This case study examines a 17-year-old schoolgirl’s mission to destroy the reputation of high-profile celebrities in the Australian Football League (AFL). We assess the digital diary of a fragile teenager who screamed for attention and stopped the nation with shocking online revelations. It was the first time a teenager fed social media and journalists a bundle of lies that triggered a series of front-page stories.

As police, lawyers and newspaper editors worked with the schoolgirl, the damage to people’s reputations and careers was life-changing. The schoolgirl posted naked pictures of star footballers on social media websites and distributed an angry YouTube video, all of which went viral. The treatment of such a toxic story, in which the schoolgirl achieved her objectives through a series of lies, has become an ethical dilemma and a toxic story which caught the media industry by surprise.

Julie Tullberg coordinates the digital journalism and sports reporting programs at Monash University, which is home to the largest journalism school in Australia. She is pursuing her PhD in sports digital journalism. Julie was formerly the Herald Sun’s Homepage Editor, Night Digital Editor and Sports Digital Editor (Nights) in Melbourne, Australia. She enjoyed a 20-year career at News Corp from 1993 to 2013.

PITCH: Free the Data

Civic data is only as good as its delivery infrastructure and the interfaces that make it usable and compelling to a wide range of people. OpenElections is a Knight News Challenge: Data project that addresses these challenges — especially important with a data set like election results that has a direct impact on citizens. Learn how OpenElections is building a new U.S. historical elections data system from the ground up with a network of hacker journalists, and making it available via an easy-to-use interface developed via a human-centered design process. This session is for any journalist. Pick our idea because creating new civic infrastructure is awesome, and I will show you how we are doing it!

Sara Schnadt is a technology project developer, information architect, data visualization designer and artist. She is Project Manager for OpenElections and Community Liaison / Designer for CensusReporter, two Knight News Challenge: Data projects. She has worked as Director of Communications and Outreach at 18th Street Arts Center in Los Angeles, and as co-founder and Chief Technologist for the Chicago Artists Resource (CAR) website at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Open for business!

This year’s unconference is officially underway. You can now start submitting your pitches to us here or at onaunconference@gmail.com through Thursday, Sept. 25. Any and all ideas welcome. Happy brainstorming!