Back in the day, I spent at least 8 years in the online news community–starting with co-founding New Jersey Online, moving on to Parade, heading to Netscape (where I was lucky enough to work with Tom Brew and hire Dean Wright), and then consultung for the AP, Knight Ridder Digital and some other news-focused organizations. I also did my stint working with early social media/search companies around RSS, microformats, and so on, engaging with Feedster, Pluck, Eurekster, Rojo and lots of other back in the day businesses.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that now that I find myself at ONA for the first time in 5 years, there are lots of familiar faces, but the temperature of the room has changed. Four years ago, I came to an ONA conference and mourned the lack of innovation, the bitterness, the frustration I saw and heard. Newspapers were dying, the dinosaurs were howling in the elephant boneyard and it was depressing to me.
Now, I have the sense things have changed. The people left at newspapers–and in online newsrooms–who come to ONA are in their jobs because they want to be there, and they are committed to solving the problems newspapers and online news sites face–or at least inventing new ways to share accurate and credible information. Like poets or non-profit program officers, online news people have made a commitment to their calling, and they’re going to make sure the ship doesn’t go down, not on their watch.
And it is good to witness that…and to be here.