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Bloggers Help Set Election News Agenda

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-09-29

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Bloggers are helping set the election news agenda, the Internet has helped candidates raise record amounts of cash, and newspaper Web sites are helping the Old Media interact with readers like never before.

A week after the election, the Online News Association will help you make sense of it all. This year, the ONA presents a stellar slate of high-profile speakers at its annual conference in Hollywood, Calif. on Nov. 12-13, 2004.

Ana Marie Cox, editor of the political blog Wonkette.com, will deliver the luncheon keynote speech, a day after Associated Press CEO Tom Curley delivers the conference's opening keynote address. Cox covered the Democratic National Convention for MTV and has written for Suck.com and The New York Times Book Review. Andrew Sullivan, ONA's 2003 keynoter, says she's "the newest, funniest blogger on the block," and The New York Times describes her as "a serious-minded former editor (who) reinvented herself online as the Wonkette, a foulmouthed, hard-drinking, sex-obsessed politics junkie." Who wouldn't want to have lunch with someone like that?

Wonkette's speech will be followed by a keynote "Super Panel" of experts debating the Internet's role in the presidential election. Panelists include: Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, MSNBC commentator and author of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"; Ariana Huffington, nationally syndicated columnist and former gubernatorial candidate; Slate's Mickey Kaus, who's been blogging about politics since 1999; Jehmu Greene, president of Rock the Vote; and legendary blogger Dave Winer, who covered the Democratic convention as a pioneering credentialed blogger and organized ConventionBloggers.com.

The Super Panel will debate the impact of 24/7 online news coverage, citizen journalists, interactive news features and campaign sites -- and they will take questions from the audience. They will end by offering practical tips based on what lessons online news sites learned (or should have learned!).

"We've assembled the most rabble-rousing gang of political pundits ever to grace the Online News Association conference," Conference Chair Jonathan Dube said. "They are sure to surprise, amuse and inspire."

In addition to the political discussions, the two-day conference will cover a wide range of topics offering practical ideas and solutions to the problems digital journalists face. For example, the results of the recently released eye tracking study will be presented and the program will also feature tips on how to make your site smarter, easier to use and more attractive. Looking forward, the manager of Google news and editorial director of Yahoo! will discuss how news aggregation is transforming the media.

Another can't-miss event will be the ONA's first-ever online news problem-solving competition, "Master of the Web Universe: The Ultimate Challenge." Attendees will form teams and compete against each other to create the best solutions to real-world scenarios. The competition will test conference participants' creativity, collaboration and resourcefulness.

Conference attendees will then help our panel of celebrity judges -- MarketWatch CEO Larry Kramer, Lawrence World-Journal New Media Director Rob Curley and Latimes.com Executive Producer Elaine Zinngrabe -- decide who wins the competition and is crowned Master of the Web Universe.

As Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan and Jeanne have pounded Florida this summer, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and its innovative 'The Edge' site has been a leader in using multimedia storytelling to illustrate the storms and their damage. The Online News Association will offer journalists the chance to learn how to do great work like this from the brains behind the Sun-Sentinel.com's interactives at an optional pre-conference Multimedia Storytelling Workshop on Thursday, Nov. 11. The hands-on workshop is a partnership between the ONA and the Society for News Design and provides instruction on how to pick a project, set up your team and develop an effective workflow. In addition, you'll get an introduction to Macromedia Flash, as well as some surprisingly full-featured free and shareware solutions for video and audio editing. Space is limited, so sign up now to be sure to get a spot ($125 for ONA members; $175 for non-members).

The conference culminates on the evening of Nov. 13 when the Online Journalism Awards are announced at the ONA's annual banquet, this year catered by Wolfgang Puck. The awards honor excellence in English-language Web journalism and are administered by the Online News Association and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

Sponsors of the conference so far include: Platinum: CNN.com; Gold: New York Times Digital, MSNBC.com; Silver: ESPN.com, USAToday.com; Bronze: latimes.com, washingtonpost.com, Knight Ridder Digital, CBS MarketWatch; Media: Business Wire; Associations: NAA New Media Federation and Society for News Design. Other exhibitors include: Reuters, Agence-France Presse, Tribune Interactive, Cnet News.com and RSiCopyright.

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