First things first. Poynter.org had its own blogger at the Hartford gala, so I don't want to duplicate his efforts. He calls it 48 tips, 48 hours.
My favorite session was Geneva Overholser. She's a big cheese in journalism circles -- former newspaper editor, Washington Post ombudsman, Pulitzer judge. She had some interesting things to say about the future you'll inhabit.
She says of today's print journalists:
“We are acting like gatekeepers and not noticing that the fence is gone.”
“We tend to have a foolish aversion to what looks different.”
Her main point is this: stop being afraid of the change, roll up your sleeves, and embrace it. See it as liberating. You won’t go through your careers simply reporting and writing.
One audience member complained that “younger people” aren’t reading, to which she replied they ARE reading, they “just aren’t reading us.” So you have to find a way to reach them.
Example: YouTube videos of John Edwards combing his hair ("Breck Girl"), and Hillary Clinton badly singing national anthem. An audience member said that's all younger people want to see. They don't want to see "serious" journalism.
Overholser says you can still show that "fun" stuff, but surround it with other material: policy stances, etc. Policy wonks could be drawn to the Breck Girl, and YouTube kids could be drawn to the policy stances.
She says we (old journalists) often talk about the Good Old Days.
In her opinion, the “Good old days” weren’t all that great.
Newspaper/Media CEO’s have never been distinguished leaders.
Curiosity and risk-taking are absent.
There have been failures of coverage:
Post 9/11, run-up to Iraq War.
She also says journalists are way too quiet. Journalists need to speak out on behalf of journalism. Nobody else is going to do it.
She repeated the phrase: "Separate tradition from principle." She means that many traditions are merely old habits that have nothing to do with the principles of journalism.
Another presenter was Dennis Horgan, who is a producer for "Countdown with Keith Oberman." One of his more interesting points was this:
Mainstream Media outlets aren't the only ones who can hire you.
A blog called TalkingPoints Memo is hiring people to conduct interviews. The point is: Why should you wait for the Mainstream Media to start serving you?
Also: Talking Points Memo was first to reveal the U.S. Attorney scandal. A writer in Phoenix talked about the U.S. Attorney there losing his job; somebody in Minneapolis chimed in, then somebody in San Francisco. TalkingPoints blogged about the story for weeks before it got traction. Tried to get Mainstream Media to report it. MSNBC picked up on it, and the rest is history.
One of Horgan's favorite blogs: Crooks and Liars. It uses video.