ONA Parachute Training

The Online News Association was founded in 1999, and I signed up pretty early in its history, full of ideas for Islenews.com (which became HawaiiNews.com which is now HawaiiStar.com). My dream of building a robust grassroots local news site is still just a dream, but fortunately, the ONA has soldiered on. Today, the group is increasingly relevant as the entire news industry struggles to adapt to the information age.

I hadn’t heard much from the group in years, but last month, they announced that they’d be bringing their “Parachute Training” program to Honolulu. The program, funded in part by the Gannett Foundation, is targeted at areas hard hit by media closures and job losses. I was glad to spread the word, soon learning that Gene Park was one of the main organizers.

Gene is a Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter, and president of the local chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). AAJA Hawaii collaborated with the Hawaii professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to make the ONA event happen.

There were two days of training, on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 21 and 22, 2011. There was a fair amount of repetition so that people who could only attend one day would still get a taste of the good stuff. I was among the group who had to work on Friday, so only attended the Saturday sessions.

Presenters and presentations included Tiffany Campbell (Seattle Times) on web video; Kwan Booth (Oakland Local) on SEO and sharing web tools for journalists; Jim Brady (TBD/Washington Post) on mobile technology; Christine Schweidler (Healthy Cities) on data journalism, Robert Hernandez (USC Annenberg) on audio slideshows, and Jon Hart (Dow Lohnes), connected via Skype, on internet law.

I put together a video featuring scenes from the Sunday program (embedded above from YouTube and uploaded to Vimeo and Blip.TV), and posted a photo set to Flickr:

The event sold out, so there’s obviously strong local interest in “parachute training.” Gene says he’s going to organize follow-up events where attendees and local experts can continue to pass on information and lead discussions of new media models and tools. Stay tuned!

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