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The End Of Digital Journalism Portland, The Beginning Of Something New

2011 December 28
by Abraham Hyatt

After two and a half years, two conferences, eight social hour presentations, and almost a hundred job listings on the job board, it’s time for Digital Journalism Portland to come to an end. I want to deeply thank the hundreds of people who attended the events, who were a part of the online community and who helped make one of Portland’s first independent journalism organizations a reality.

The site will remain up as an archive for the conference resources (2009, 2011), but as of Jan. 1, Digital Journalism Portland is closing down.

Why Shut It Down?

Back in early 2009 we called ourselves “digital journalists” because we approached our work differently than the rest of the media world. I don’t think anyone sitting in the audience at the first Digital Journalism Camp would have guessed that two years later The Oregonian was going to partner with multiple local news blogs — the majority of which didn’t even exist at the time.

At the time there weren’t a lot of local resources for us and I wanted Digital Journalism Portland to fill that void. These days the name “digital journalist” still fits, but a lot has changed. Traditional news organizations no longer (for the most part) treat the online world as an anathema; bloggers who report on and break news are everywhere. In Portland and Vancouver we’ve seen multiple local media ventures launch, some successfully, others not so much.

Digital Journalism Portland is now one of many resources that exist both locally and online for digital journalists — a.k.a., pretty much all journalists.

Several months ago a handful of journalists began working to create a local chapter of the Online News Association. This last week they announced their first meetup: Jan. 18 at the U of O’s Turnbull Center.

I’m happy that I can contribute something to that effort. As of Jan. 4, the Portland ONA chapter will take over the @journopdx Twitter account. DJP and ONA share an almost identical mission: to be a resource for new media journalists. The conversation that ONA will have on Twitter is very similar to what Digital Journalism Portland did. If you disagree with this handover, please let me know.

Hacks/Hackers

Digital Journalism Portland was the beginning. ONA has now stepped up. But we also need a resource for those who work at the intersection of journalism and technology. Back in 2009, several journalists in New York and California founded a group called Hacks/Hackers. Their mission is to “create a network of journalists (“hacks”) and technologists (“hackers”) who rethink the future of news and information.”

Journalists sometimes call themselves “hacks,” a tongue-in-cheek term for someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code. Hacks/Hackers tries to bridge those two worlds. It’s for hackers exploring technologies to filter, visualize and distribute information, and for hacks who use technology to find and tell stories. Hacks/Hackers is a digital community of people who seek to inspire each other, share information (and code) and collaborate to invent the future of media and journalism.

There are now chapters of Hack/Hackers around the globe. If you’re interested in helping organize a local chapter, please get in touch. Multiple co-organizers are needed.

Thank You a Million Times Over

I can’t begin to thank the countless people who have been involved over the years. The social hours wouldn’t have happened without the initial co-host Libby Tucker, and wouldn’t have continued without the support — and prodding — of people like Betsy Richter, Michael Andersen and Cornelius Swart.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Al Stavitsky, the outgoing director of the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center, and Tim Gleason, dean of the school’s journalism department. Al was one of the first potential sponsors I approached in 2009. Even though I had no experience organizing conferences he agreed to cater lunch for the event. That sponsorship was the critical cornerstone that allowed me to convince other sponsors to come on board — which then allowed the event to take place. If not for Al and Tim, DJP would likely have not have existed in its current form.

There are so many others to thank: the 40-plus conference panelists and presenters, the sponsors, the social hour presenters and regulars, and all of the people like Scott Nelson who were an advocate for DJP behind the scenes. I’m remarkably lucky to have a supportive and encouraging partner like Devon D’Ewart, who, among many other things, organized volunteers at both conferences. I wish there was a way to list everyone who helped along the way. Thank you all.

One Last Thing

Over the last two years people often offered suggestions for specific social hour topics or conference sessions. Starting at the beginning of 2011, the requests I got for training for social media and online tools increased dramatically. I’ve always been confused by that. There are a ton of places to find that kind of information online, but for some reason that connection is not happening for a lot of journalists.

If you want to do something to help journalism in Portland or elsewhere, find out why so many journalists don’t feel like they’re able to discover, utilize and adopt the many tools available online. Social hours are fun, conferences about big-picture ideas are edifying, but there is a real need for new media journalism training.

 

It’s been an amazing ride. I hope I see you at an ONA event or a Hacks/Hackers demo day or some other conference or workshop that someone is dreaming up right now.

Thank you all,
Abraham

Housekeeping:

  1. As I mentioned, the new Portland chapter of ONA will take over the @journopdx Twitter account on Jan. 4. Email me with questions or comments.
  2. After sending out a final announcement, the email addresses in the Digital Journalism Portland mailing list will be deleted.
  3. All journopdx.com email addresses will be deleted on Jan. 1 along with the DJP Facebook page.
  4. The website will remain online in its current state for the foreseeable future. I host the site and the bandwidth demands are very minimal. Barring some unforeseen issue, I will leave the site up indefinitely.
  • http://plexusengine.com/ Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Thanks for everything you’ve done on this Abraham.  You’re an inspiration.  Looking forward to seeing all the things you’ll do with that energy next!

  • http://redoingmedia.com/ Betsy Richter

    Ah, but NONE of this would have ever happened without YOU, sir. Thanks for leading the way –  in your usual understated, unassuming manner, of course. Now?  What’s next…? 

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