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Largest-ever Int'l. Symposium on Online Journalism spotlights evolving media industry and innovation in newsrooms


A record -- 296 -- number of journalists, media executives, technology experts, and scholars from 22 countries across the globe registered for the 13th International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ), held Friday-Saturday, April 20-21, at the University of Texas at Austin. Participants in the unique annual conference, which unites industry perspectives with academic research, spotlighted the ever-evolving media environment, and the need for more innovation in journalism.

As Rosental Calmon Alves, symposium organizer and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, noted during the opening session Friday morning, a digital deluge is helping journalism transition from a desert-like ecosystem to a rich, rain forest-like ecosystem. “The evolution of the transition from scarcity to abundance is really what this conference is about,” he said.

Similarly, during the first keynote address of the conference, Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news products, called for a complete re-thinking of journalism, because “this pace of technological change will not abate. If we think we’re moving from one static point to another static point in media, we’ll be disappointed, because we're going to see continuous change.”

Besides Gingras from Google, this year's symposium (see the full program here) also included keynote speeches from Jim Moroney, publisher and CEO of the Dallas Morning News; Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation and Murchinson Fellow of Free Enterprise at The University of Texas at Austin, who spoke about monetizing online journalism; and Raju Narisetti, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, who discussed the intersection of content and technology in the newsroom.

Other panels throughout the symposium addressed the impact of social media on journalism, the need for more innovation and entrepreneurialism in journalism, the latest trends in mobile technologies, creating data-driven stories, using technology to engage readers, and how to better attract readers.

Amy Schmitz Weiss, ISOJ research chair and assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University, compiled a list of five trends identified during the symposium, along with a few take-aways from ISOJ to help inspire journalists: diversify revenue funds, build relationships with audiences, move beyond data visualization, examine your news organizations' content architecture, and promote education and training.

Throughout the symposium, participants sent thousands of tweets using the #ISOJ12 and #ISOJ hashtags (see these Storify posts aggregating tweets from a few of the ISOJ panels), and hundreds of journalists in countries around the world followed the conference via live, online video streaming. This year also saw the release of the third edition of the #ISOJ research journal.

"Having a peer-reviewed research journal with a conference that is also highly attended by journalism professionals is really something unique that you don't see often, because the industry world and the academic world are normally parallel," Alves said. "But we mix them together, which makes the symposium so unique."

Industry experts participating in ISOJ this year included representatives from the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University (which live-blogged the entire conference), CNN Mobile, the Chicago Tribune Media Group, the Los Angeles Times, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, LinkedIn, Guardian News & Media in the UK, the Winnipeg Free Press in Canada, and the O Globo newspaper in Brazil.

Scholars presenting at ISOJ came from such universities as the University of Oxford in the U.K., the University of British Columbia in Canada, La Trobe University in Australia, the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, Amsterdam University College in the Netherlands, University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and the United States, the University of Missouri, Loyola University in Maryland, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and, of course, the host institution of the University of Texas at Austin.

See here for a complete list of scholars participating and the titles of the papers they presented. Abstracts of the research papers are available here. Learn more about the professionals' panels and keynote speakers here.

The International Symposium on Online Journalism is possible thanks to generous support from the Knight Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and The Dallas Morning News.

The International Symposium on Online Journalism is a program of the Knight Chair in Journalism, the UNESCO Chair in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the College of Communication and School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

The International Symposium on Online Journalism 2012 from UT College of Communication on Vimeo.

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