Live Blogging: ONA Meeting 2/24/2011

(6:05) A huge THANK YOU to Scott Woelfel for speaking with us tonight – he offered great insight into online journalism and interactive media.

ONA members – look out for a Doodle soon to help us schedule our March meeting.

(6:00) Scott: The web is a great equalizer. Small brands can come out of nowhere. Anybody who can do something unique and original can gather an audience in this environment. When we started that wasn’t the case. I think CNN is now is a place of disadvantage – they have lost the news crown to Google and the video crow to YouTube. Here’s a point: not making the brand the star, but making the news content or producer the star.

Question: You said you don’t hire journalists for Armchair – what do you look for?

Scott: Our structure – strategists who devise and outline the concept, creative department who add dimension/color/shape/motion, and we have a technology group who makes it all come to life. It is a very collaborative process.

(5:52) Question: How can I start getting involved in interactive media now?

Scott: There are a lot of newspapers and magazines looking for people to help them with online. They have to rely on social media platforms and things like that. Also you are your own brand and you can do a lot with your own blog, twitter feed, or facebook. There is no reason why everyone in that room can’t set-up their own system. Start using that and to develop that brand on your own. I expect to see some image of someone online when they come in to interview.

(5:48) Question: Google news is the top news place online, how does this effect the quality of reporting out there?

Scott: I think it’s better. Good stories will rise to the top. If the very best story rises to the top, the competition to get the best news story out there will be better. The question is going to be where the money is coming from to support this… battle between aggregators and the destination sites, will they share revenue? Pay models on the tablet will have a huge impact. It will be interesting to see if it works. Do we move away from advertising more and more toward a subscription model?

Question: What do you think salaries will look like for online reporter in the next 5-10 years?

Scott: I think they will remain depressed for all journalists. Interactive journalists will have an advantage being familiar with all of these technologies and the journalistic principles. They will have a leg up on older people. If you are emphasizing story telling and how to make it engaging, you are in a much better place than someone who says I am a tv reporter or print reporter. I tell Stacy he is preparing people for jobs that don’t exist. I think the Mizzou network is the best in the country but it doesn’t guarantee someone who spends a year at channel 8 (KOMU) a job.

Question: Where’s the place of data visualization in journalism?

Scott: On something like the iPad it shines. I think it is going to become much more useful and important. Places like CNN and NYT have someone with a permanent job to do this.

(5:45) Scott: Incredibly interactive and incredibly viral. Not a news example, but it shows you can break down that wall and try some new things and do some different things.

(5:40) Scott: Getting into social media… the original idea was to track the tweets during the MTV Music Awards. It was in real time, it showed the most popular tweet subject in the center.

You can see how many tweets per minute people are getting. This is topic is trivial, it’s just about movie stars, but think about it on election night. It can tell you why someone is winning, where they are winning, and what people are tweeting about. It would be a compelling snap shot about what’s going on. People get pulled into this.

(5:37) Scott: You can get real time data from what people are doing. Example, Flickr and geo-tagging. There are implications for this for the news – think of Egypt or Libya. If you can put context around it, it works as a consumer piece of information and something that drives the editorial process.

How big really? It is extremely simple, but very effective. It puts large scale events in a way you can understand.

It gives you a scale. People will share this with other people.

(5:35) Scott: Web is declining and tablets/iPads are on the rise. 58 million tablets will be out there at the end of the year. They do news so well.

This layout is very iPad like. You don’t really go to another page, it reloads content in the main window.

(5:30) Scott: When is the last time you typed in a url to get to a site? Now you use google and links. The idea of destination is really on the decline. There is a connivence factor there. The idea of leaving what you are doing to go to a new site really doesn’t make since. The “What sort of jobs are going to be important when I get out of school?” “What type of job will be my second or third job?” I think it is a mixed bag, clearly someone has to produce the original content. But how it gets out there is not as important as it used to be. I think you are going to seeing newsrooms combining and sharing content. Story telling part of it is very important, but I’m not so sure the branding part is still going to be there. The news anchor is going to be changing, we will be looking more at someone who is a part of the story.

(5:25) Scott: I am a charter member of ONA so I want to get into some online journalism trends. Let’s look at the Hearst Weather page. They wanted us to do something different. I know this is info and not news but it is about saying “just because everyone is doing that way, why do we have to do it that way?” This is how we have grown up. Most news sites out there today are like what we did with when we first started.

(5:20) Scott: In September of 2001 I started Armchair. Check out this video about it.

(5:15:) Scott: In 1994 I got together with a couple of business guys and we talked about what the internet was turning into. When we looked at the web, we had this issue that the cd-roms we were producing took a really long time to produce and the online services were interesting because you could be up to date as tv but you had a really limited reach. I wanted to have universal reach and publish things very quickly. In January of 1995 we started CNN Interactive which was the first steps of Over the next 7 months we hired 80 people and put together I was the manager-in-chief and we modeled it after other newsrooms. We did very little video at the beginning and we used wire service material and wrote our own content.

(5:10pm) Scott: I graduated from Mizzou in Radio and TV News. I hoped around between stations and producer jobs (Richmond, Virginia and Orlando, Florida). In 1985 I joined CNN and floated from show to show as a producer. It was a really good experience. In 1989 I became executive producer of weekend and evening shows and supervising producer for overnight shows. I was the youngest person to do that. In 1990 Apple just came out with quicktime and they wanted to produce a magazine online. One of the news executives wanted me to head up this project. I recruited about 5 other people and when our shifts got done we would work on this prototype cd-rom to show what we could do. The executives at CNN said “oh that’s nice but it’s not what we want to do.” This project is what got me involved in computers.

(5:00pm) We are excited to have co-founder of, and CEO of Armchair Media, Scott Woelfel as our guest speaker. We are skyping with Scott and excited to question him about his experiences in the online journalism field.

And ready, set, go. We are off!

Quick status update. We are in the process of getting ORG approval. We should have an official status before our next ONA monthly meeting!

(4:45pm) If you are not able to hike across campus in this sleet to meet us in RJI 100 have no fear – because live blogging is here (again).

Follow along with this post and you can get all the info provided in tonight’s meeting. The top of this post will have the most recent updates, and if you want pervious information just scroll down.

And if you prefer updates via 140 character posts you can also follow along on twitter by following the @ONAMizzou account!


About onamizzou

Welcome to the official blog page for University of Missouri students working to bring the Online News Association to Mizzou.
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