Sean Blanda first reached national prominence when he announced his college newspaper Temple News would be moving off College Publisher to WordPress MU. Blanda was among the first to publicly champion this idea. Since then Blanda has become a leading voice in innovative online journalism. His latest project, BarCamp NewsInnovation Philly is bringing the best and the brightest in news from around the country to Philly on April 25 to meet, brainstorm, and work together to find solutions to problems during one of the most trying times in the journalism industry’s history. Here is Blanda’s take on what we’re hoping will be a strong, constructive event.
In 140 characters, what is BarCamp NewsInnovation Philly?
BCNI is a journalism conference in Philly where there is no set schedule. 100s of news people will present on whatever topic they want.
Why a BarCamp, and how is this going to help reinvent the industry?
The industry has tried professional conferences, CEO meetings, and expensive expos with little to show. The open schedule that a BarCamp provides lowers the barrier of entry so that anyone interested in thinking differently can attend with other like minded people and help hash out a vision for news in the 21st century.
There won’t be a silver bullet. But we can put aside the usual negativity and canned arguments and opinions for something new and fresh.
Who is the one person that everyone should try to get a conversation in with on Saturday?
If the event is successful, it will be somebody that isn’t particularity well-known that ends up making a splash with their presentation. Everybody is on an even level, so talk to everybody!
What topics do you expect to be covered? Will there a track for revenue, website design, or citizen journalism?
There will be no tracks. I’m a firm believer that the stodginess of traditional conferences is a detriment. Some wonderful things have come out of previous Barcamps on other topics. Creating tracks would be a mistake. The only requirement is that your presentation topic deal with news.
Are there any presentations in particular that you’re looking forward to?
There are no planned presentation although some people have given me a hint about what they are presenting. I, personally, would like to see any idea involving revenue and money.
Why did SPJ decide to move venues for their conference, and how do you think this will change their event?
I had been in contact with Phil Beck, the organizer of the SPJ conference, for a few weeks now and I couldn’t be happier. Phil told me that dozens of attendees had approached him about attending BarCamp. After the number started to climb, he figured it would be in SPJ’s best interest to move the event a few blocks north to Temple.
I had feared that the event would be too centered on online journalism and was in the process of reaching out to print and broadcast media members. The addition of SPJ makes that process much easier.
If you can’t get to Philly, how can someone follow along with BCNI?
The hashtag is #BCNIPhilly. I’d like to think that with 200+ tech savvy journalists that a lot of live-blogging, tweeting, and streaming will be taking place. However, there is no official plan to record every presentation as it would require six separate people recording each hour. However with more sponsorship money or volunteers, it’s something I have not ruled out.