Monday, September 20, 2010

Running For A Seat On the ONA Board


I've been a member of the Online News Association for a number of years, spanning my time at Reuters and now at Wired.com. I've also done a lot of head-shaking about the state of our industry, enough so that I think I should at least try be part of the solution.

So, I'm trying a little of that by running for a seat on the ONA board. Competition is very stiff this year -- apparently there are many others who reached this epiphany at the same time as I. This is a good thing, because no matter who gets elected the ONA will be a stronger organization.

My candidate's statement is below, but I also encourage you to read those of the other (record-setting!) 21 people -- a total of six incumbents, and 16 new faces -- vying for seven seats.
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Bio
I am Wired.com's New York City bureau chief, and direct our business and disruptive media coverage. Prior to joining Wired.com I was at Reuters, where my tenure was evenly split between pre-and post-internet eras. I began a traditional career as a reporter, editor and bureau chief. Later I built the internet's first real-time news feed, created Reuters' multimedia desk and was the founding editor of reuters.com. For an all-too brief period I was media manager at the Committee for Concerned Journalists, where, among other things, I did media criticism. A graduate of Stuyvesant High School and New York University, I live in Westchester County, New York, with my wife and daughter.

Vision for ONA
We are always at a crossroads, right?

The Online News Association has always tried to lift the boats (and spirits) of our print-oriented colleagues by both warning about, and extolling the virtues of, an inevitable digital future. For a long time this was an internal "us” and "them” discussion. The balance of power in newsrooms, and the sense of urgency among print media professionals, moved erratically between optimism (often undue) and despair (often overdone).

But now, even as the future remains unclear and such new opportunities as mobile in general and tablets in particular appear, we have almost proven our point too well.

Is there such a thing as online news anymore? Is there an old media, and thus a new? Can a newsroom possibly be effective if it isn’t "converged?”

I live at today’s crossroads. Condé Nast is still a print giant but is also accelerating into that uncertain digital future, placing big bets on the iPad and taking significant steps to alter its digital DNA.

Wired.com is a traditional news shop when it comes to journalism values, ethics and commitment. But we are a very driven team that embraces the best practices of what the digital era: Savvy use of social media, awareness of the tides and eddies of SEO and, above all, total engagement with the audience before, during and after we publish anything.

We need to obliterate the walls between ourselves and the community from which we draw strength and frankly, 100% of the information we sometimes snobbishly assume we have divined from thin air. This isn’t an abdication of responsibility but rather an acceptance of how it has always been -- an altered state the digital age has finally allowed us fully appreciate.

I’m a seasoned journalist, strategist and tactician who is eager to help lead the ONA’s efforts to help our membership navigate these waters. I believe in über communication, transparency and crowdsourcing. Besides living this I have spoken in many forums on the digital media from college classrooms to network television.

As everyone becomes an online journalist -- like it or not -- we have much tradition to maintain. But we have always adapted while maintaining our core principles. Perhaps these times seem more fearsome, and that is what drives some to the sanctuary of the known.

I know better. I know we need to do less of some old things, and more of some new. I know we need to stop appearing to be imperious, and yet leave no doubt about our authority and credibility. I know we need to stop treating the audience like amateurs while leaving emphasizing that there is no substitute for professionalism.

So, is this a crossroads? Maybe not. Maybe if your eyes get used to the light, you clearly see the path forward. I believe the ONA is an indispensable resource. By increasing outreach and participation and helping to make ONA part of the conversation every day I hope to be part of its great work.

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