Archive for the ‘ONA’ Category
05 Nov

ONA10: The awesomeness of friends

I just have to share — brag — about awesome people for a moment. First off, Mark S. Luckie, the media mogul behind and author of The Digital Journalist’s Handbook whipped up a campaign poster for my bid to be on the ONA Board… obviously on the heels of the whole ‘Evil Man’ bit. It looks freakin’ awesome and want to make a HUGE poster for my office.


I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with David Cohn, aka DigiDave and founder of, a few times, but none as fun as our time at ONA10. This guy is genuine and passionate about journalism and you should buy him a drink: Crown Royal on the rocks. He was nice enough to do a quick interview about #wjchat while at the conference.


Will Sullivan, aka Journerdism and 2010-11 Reynolds Institute Fellow, is perhaps one of the smartest, sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Dude is simply rad and is in love with journalism as I am. He had cool campaign pins, with messages like ‘Jnerd 4 life,’ and also has a Facebook ad. Did I mention he’s smart? I hung out with him a bit at ONA and had a blast.

Bonus: He and Dave (also a Reynolds Fellow) are roommates at the moment, and if all goes well, they’ll have a reality TV show Tuesday nights on NBC. Also, dude’s photo is awesome.


Say what you will about Social Media and Twitter, I can not deny the fact that it has introduced me to some incredible people. #wjchat has allowed me to meet such wonderful people, like Robin Phillips, aka RobinJP and Web ME at Reynolds Center. We met virtually earlier this year and finally met in real life just two weeks ago. I can tell you Robin is going to be a true, lifelong friend. She wrote a response to my ‘Jerry Maguire memo to journalism‘ that just blew me away: Open letter to Evil Man, aka Robert Hernandez


In my life, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people… people who, for some unknown reason, grab me by the scruff of my neck and push me forward. Doris N. Truong, Washington Post multiplatform editor and AAJA national secretary, is one of those people. I’ve only know or just over a month, it seems, but she has been an incredible advocate and friend. I’ve missed her since I’ve left D.C.


Cory Haik and her newspaper dress

Photo via Jonathan Dube / @cyberjournalist

People who know me for a while, know how close I am to ‘my sister’ Cory Haik, “digital journalist at washington post.” Her family and mine have been close from the moment we met each other and have been in pain since we’ve parted. Cory, as anyone will tell you, is an incredible person… on so many levels. She’s also gracious and her laugh is infectious. You may not know it at first glance, but that woman is working overtime to save journalism.

WaPo is lucky to have her. Expect good things… not only journalistically, but fashionably too. She made a big splash with her newspaper dress at ONA10.

NOTE/WARNING: If you see us… expect a show. We bicker and fight about everything. So family.


Quite honestly, there is a much longer list here… so many folks that I got to meet in real life and that were so welcoming to me. I’m so grateful for their friendship. I’m a lucky guy… a guy with the awesomeness of friends.</cheesy>

Categories: ONA, Personal Tags: ,
03 Nov

Is Patch evil? Someone had to ask, so I did

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review:

Hi, I’m “Evil Man.”

Well, that’s according to All Things Digital‘s Kara Swisher, who moderated a keynote presentation with America Online‘s Tim Armstrong and National Public Radio‘s Vivian Schiller at the Online News Association conference in D.C.

She dubbed me that after I asked a question that, to me, was clearly the elephant in the room.

For months before the conference, there has been a buzz in the journalism industry with people trying to understand AOL’s, a venture in hyperlocal news.

According to its Web site, the Patch network is in 14 states, but expects to expand into three more. It’s already in more than 300 cities (63 of them in California alone), and plans to add nearly 200 more.

The ISP-turned-content network is putting its money where its virtual mouth is by committing an investment of up to $50 million to this project.

They have hired a ton of people, among them laid off journalists and recent j-school graduates. It has even partnered up with several universities, including USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

I know a few of their folks and they rave about their new, exciting job.

But, there are reports painting a less-than-positive side to this network. From claims of plagiarism to descriptions of “sweatshop” like hours, these reported issues have raised concern.

At a recent Hacks/Hackers meetup in Los Angeles, the topic of Patch came up and there was concern that local, independent bloggers would be killed off. That said, it was also admitted that not enough was known about the venture, but the group would like to explore the concerns.

Still, even while I was at the conference, people were asking each other what they thought of Patch. In fact, there was an unconference session (an impromptu session proposed and voted upon by the conference attendees) that wanted to explore this question.

But by 45 minutes into the talk, it looked like no one was going to ask the question. So I tweeted this out:
Ugh... I think I'm going to ask the Q on people's mind: Is Patch evil? @ONA10 #Ona10

And, once I was handed the mic, I did.

You can see the exchange, which aired on C-SPAN live (jump to: 00:45:58). It was also written up by Lost Remote. You can tell that the attendees were the shocked that I asked, but applauded the question.

One person told me she literally spit out her coffee when she heard my question while watching the live video stream.

For the record, I was not trying to say Patch is evil with my question, but merely ask the question that people were thinking. Prior to the conference, I had been on the fence about Patch and engaged other folks about this topic.

The reaction to my question has been overwhelming positive, but what has been interesting to me has been how a few folks thought I was either too soft or too hard on Patch. To me though, that averages out to the spot that I had intended: straight down the middle.

As you may have heard, the ONA10 attendees took to Twitter making me a local trending topic. Here are some of the reactions:

Maureen Linke
Vadim Lavrusik
Ken Sands
Heather Billings
Dave Stanton
Amy Webb
Bob Payne
Mel Taylor

A search of Twitter will show you a ton more, but Dani Fankhauser also compiled a list of her favorite tweets.

Outside of the comments, the two questions I got asked most were: What did I think of his answer? And, do I think Patch is evil?

Personally, I was mixed on his answer… I was surprised that he seemed like he didn’t know this vibe was toward Patch. While he talked in general terms about pay and pace, I did like his idea of partnering with local bloggers.

After all that, is Patch evil? From what I can tell, no. It’s hiring journalists. It’s trying to be a service to many communities. It’s investing in informing the public, while other media companies have just stopped cutting budgets.

But, I also don’t think it is all a giant Patch of roses. To me, it seems to be a move to become one of the largest ad networks in the country, going after local advertisers. Under the umbrella of “we care about the community,” this is a business venture. That’s not evil, that’s capitalism.

The bottom-line in this story isn’t my personal opinion. That alone doesn’t really matter. What mattered was that someone asked the question on everyone’s mind. What I did was not brave… it was journalism.

Not sure it merited being called “Evil Man,” but glad that the act of asking was applauded. I also like that the questioned spurred a dialogue about the project.

So, in keeping with that ongoing dialogue, what is your take on Patch? Are you a supporter or a hater? Email, comment or @reply me with your thoughts. I’ll publish the crowdsource response soon.

Robert Hernandez is a Web Journalism professor at USC Annenberg and co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly chat for Web Journalists held on Twitter. You can contact him by e-mail ( or through Twitter (@webjournalist). Yes, he’s a tech/journo geek.

25 Oct

Twenty-two reasons to vote for ONA board

Comments off

The list of candidates running for the Online News Association Board of Directors is nothing short of an all-star cast. I am fortunate to be among them, and no matter how the vote turns out, I’m going to be fortunate to be listed either among the “winners” or “losers.”

(In fact, if I don’t get one of the six available seats, I might start an alternative organization called The Extraordinary League of Web Journalists.)

The 22 reasons to vote

John Abell // New York Bureau Chief,
Jody Brannon // National Director, News21
Neil Budde // President, Chief Product Officer,
Laura Cochran // Content Manager, ContentOne, Gannett
Eric Easter // VP, Digital and Entertainment, Johnson Publishing
Micah Gelman // Executive Producer, U.S. Video, The Associated Press (AP)
Cory Haik // Deputy Editor, Universal News Desk, Washington Post
Joshua Hatch // Interactives Director, USA TODAY
Robert Hernandez / Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Gary Kebbel // Dean, College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Katie King // Senior Product Manager, Portal and Partnerships, MSN UK
Rob King // Editor-in-Chief, ESPN Digital Media
Kirk LaPointe // Managing Editor, The Vancouver Sun
Michele McLellan // Consultant, Circuit Rider
Susan Mernit // Editor in Chief, Oakland Local
Ken Sands // Online Editor, Bloomberg
Eric Scherer // Director, Strategy and External Relations, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Tiffany Shackelford // Practice Manager, Journalism and Publishing, Phase2 Technology
Ingrid Sturgis // Assistant Professor, Howard University
Will Sullivan // Donald W. Reynold Fellow, Reynolds Journalism Institu
Amy Webb // Principal Digital Media Consultant, Webbmedia Group
Jonathan Weber // Editor in Chief, The Bay Citizen

The list of elite journos should be reason enough to make sure you participate and vote, but this great organization continues to grow and needs strong, engaged leaders to guide it.

Please take the time to vote. The polls will open Oct. 29 and close Nov. 13. For more board election information go to:

It is going to be hard to pick only six… I’m not kidding. There are a lot more than six friends and colleagues I truly respect.

Here are a few thoughts on some of the candidates, in alphabetical order, that I’ve met or worked closely with or in one capacity or another.

Jody Brannon // National Director, News21
Jody BrannonI first met Jody at UNITY ’04 in D.C. as someone who volunteered to help run the student online project. She was the Executive Producer for USA Today at the time and I was impressed with her commitment to diversity. I continue to be impressed with her commitment to Online Journalism, as she has been a mentor to many and now taking on leading the innovative program News21. We’ve had lots of conversations about the state of Web journalism, often with a beer in our hands.

Laura Cochran // Content Manager, ContentOne, Gannett
Laura CochranI have known Laura more through Twitter and her active participation in ONADC rather than in person. She’s got proven track record of being a Web journalist and a history of helping the organization, most recently on conference committee.

Cory Haik // Deputy Editor, Universal News Desk, Washington Post
Cory HaikThe moment I met Cory, when she was interviewing for a position at, I knew she was my Web journalism soul mate. Yes, she is my friend. Yes, she is like family. But, don’t be mistaken, this woman is a Web journalism powerhouse rockin’ heels. While fun and infectious, she is committed to advancing Web journalism and ONA. I’ve seen her commitment to the organization firsthand, including coordinating the conference’s Multimedia Learning Lab and most recently run the “parachute” training across the country.

Y’all, if you don’t vote for her, you’re actually hurting the organization.

Joshua Hatch // Interactives Director, USA TODAY
Joshua HatchJosh Hatch is an incredibly smart (and smart-ass) Web journo. Our paths first crossed years ago when he presented during the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference, in which I was organizing the New Media workshops. I couldn’t attend his session, but heard it was a hit. We met up again in Birmingham – as part of the training Cory organized. We had dinner and started talking about our views on Web journalism … and I realized the dude gets it. He actually pitched an idea I was contemplating back to me. So, naturally, I thought the guy was a genius. He has been committed to the organization for some time as well, playing an active role in coordinating this year’s program.

Ken Sands // Online Editor, Bloomberg
Ken SandsI’ll be blunt, Ken reminds me of that slightly crazy uncle that is brilliant, without bragging about it. I first met him over the phone in 2003, when I was hoping to strike up a partnership between and, which had just created an amazing Iraq War casualties database. Without hesitation he was more than happy to share his site’s work with a “competitor.” I am not sure my bosses would have been as giving as he was… and has proven to be. Like Jody, he’s played mentor to many, and been innovative along the way.

Tiffany Shackelford // Practice Manager, Journalism and Publishing, Phase2 Technology
Tiffany ShackelfordTiffany is simply awesome. I met her at my first ONA conference Toronto 2008, I believe. She is blunt, hilarious and committed to Web journalism and the organization. Like others I mentioned, she’s got a history helping the organization and is one of the driving forces that makes ONADC so great. I am also her +1 at the next meetup.

Will Sullivan // Donald W. Reynold Fellow, Reynolds Journalism Institute
Will SullivanWhile is handle (Journerdism) and photo alone should get your vote, Will is one of those amazing journos that’s engaged, innovative and passionate about Web journalism. And he has fun doing it. I know journalism will be okay, as long as leaders listen to people like him. In addition to being a host on #wjchat, I am working with him and a few others on a side project and appreciate his knowledge and experience.

Amy Webb // Principal Digital Media Consultant, Webbmedia Group
Amy WebbShe’s a force. Constantly innovating, she’s been an incredible presence on the ONA board, not to mention her famous session during the conference. She and her company have been actively doing their part in offering training to journos, including doing a few workshops for NAHJ.

Oh yeah, vote for Robert Hernandez
I’m going to be selfish, even though there are other amazing people, to say that I hope you vote for me for one of those six seats. I hope my track record has shown that I am committed to advancing Web journalism, have successfully served on a national board and organized a variety of training workshops.

All I can say, like those listed above and the other candidates, I care about Web journalism and advancing it and believe ONA is the organization that will lead the way.

Whether you vote for me or not, it’s incredibly important that you help shape the future of this vital organization and vote. The polls will open Oct. 29 and close Nov. 13. All ONA members in good standing as of Oct. 15, 2010, are eligible to vote. Elected board members will be announced to the public Nov. 20.

Categories: Journalism, ONA Tags: