5 tips to level up your journalism after ONA19

There are a few things that are often shuffled to the back of people’s to-do lists after time at a conference, away from the daily grind. One is taking what you learned and actually moving forward to put it into practice. Another is staying in touch with all the people you met.

As you are planning how you will spend your time at ONA19, it’s also a good idea to think about how you will follow up after. You will learn new strategies and tips for your newsroom, eat some wonderful food and meet a lot of great folks who are all working extremely hard to make digital journalism successful. Then what’s next?

Here are five tips on staying connected and improving your work with what you learned.

Identify a narrow focus and stick to it

You’ve just ingested a boatload of new information, and your head is spinning with new ideas. But it’s likely that when you return to your newsroom, the same old day-to-day will soon take over. Finding ways to share everything you’ve brought back may feel like added stress.

One tip is to choose your focus early — identify a significant topic or issue that you want to learn more about, whether that’s audience, revenue, management, technology and so on — and disseminate only what you’ve learned on that subject back at work. Start by finding ways to incorporate those new learnings into your daily flow. Or, if you plan to launch a new initiative, start by organizing a presentation for the people who can help you turn your vision into reality.

Create a presentation or workshop

It’s time to take what you’ve learned and pitch it to the folks who didn’t get to spend a weekend in New Orleans. Who can help you put your new idea into practice? Make a presentation or workshop just for them. In it, share what you’ve learned, identify a way to use that information in your newsroom and spell out what you’re hoping to achieve in order to get their buy-in. By formalizing and sharing your idea soon after the conference — while you’re still excited about what you learned — you’re bringing back some of that ONA energy to your newsroom.

Find the people who are tackling the same problems

Whether you work in print, broadcast or digital, it’s likely you’ve met some interesting people thinking hard about how to solve problems similar to the ones you’ve encountered. Why not trade information on how you’re trying to answer a tricky Facebook analytics question, or whether launching a newsletter really is the right move to make? You’re all in this industry together, and if you can see the shape of others’ journeys, it’s likely to help make your path that much clearer. Start with an email that shares one of your post-ONA plans with someone who’s tackling something similar, and tell them what you’re hoping to discover. You might be surprised by their insights.

E-introduce people

It’s always good to a) share the wealth, and b) include a variety of perspectives. If you meet Person A, who is trying to solve a particular problem, and you know Person B can help, introduce them over email or social media after the conference. By making these connections, you might be instrumental in helping a newsroom find their next amazing journalism project, or a new way to boost their digital revenue. Eventually, that good deed will come back to you times three.

Find your ONA Local Group

Here’s how you can keep that ONA energy going until next year’s conference: find your Local group. Each group, staffed by volunteers in cities across the globe, hosts trainings, mixers and discussions on journalism and technology all year long. We talk about subjects like creating award-winning projects, career building and resume writing and increasing diversity in management. We even watch our favorite journalism movies together.

Here’s how to find your Local group. And if there’s none in your community, ONA can help you start a new one.

Diya Chacko is an Audience Engagement Editor for the Los Angeles Times. A New Orleans native, Diya graduated with a dual master’s degree from Columbia University’s Earth and Environmental Science Journalism program in 2010. She tends to geek out over dogs, horror movies and journalists learning to code.