SOBCon 2012 Preview: Emily Harris, Journalism Accelerator

This week we’re previewing SOBCon 2012: Chicago. The event runs May 4-6, and if you’ll be in Chicago, there’s still time to register. We contacted some of the presenters and asked them to share their insights about their individual industries. The answers were so interesting to review and reveal that Liz Strauss and Terry St. Marie have put together an amazing group for this year’s event.

Today’s Q&A is with Emily Harris, Journalism Accelerator‘s editorial director. Emily has gathered stories all over the world. She reported for NPR from Europe, Afghanistan, Iraq and Washington DC and shared in NPR’s 2005 Peabody award for coverage of Iraq. She grew up in Oregon, and returned in 2007 to help start Think Out Loud, an award-winning public affairs program on OPB, which she hosted for several years. My questions for Emily focus on the potential opportunities for journalists and how she’s made the most of her opportunities.

1. The future of journalism is much debated. What do you think will be required to be a successful journalist five years from now?

I think the core skills that have made journalists successful in the past will still be required five years from now. Those include curiosity, a premium value on facts, a willingness to actively dig until you have key information, a willingness to understand nuance, the presence to ask all sorts of questions and the ability to tell a compelling, true story. I think a number of other skills are now and will continue to be important, including the ability to think and tell stories in multiple media, and, particularly for the increasing number of independent journalists running their own websites, an understanding of and interest in the financial end of the news business.

2. Joining Journalism Accelerator represented a transition moment for you. What’s been the most exciting part of making that transition?

The most exciting part of joining the JA has been the opportunity to dig into all the experiments and innovation happening in journalism! When I was doing daily broadcasts or running around the world reporting, I hardly ever had time to try to keep up with new developments. Things are happening fast in journalism; it’s great to have a perch to watch and maybe even help it along.

3. With so many opportunities to collaborate, how do you recommend people assess those opportunities to increase their chances at success?

What a timely question! We are just running a forum on the JA right now about collaboration in journalism! Check it out. The piece of advice I’ve heard most often about collaborations is to take the time to talk about every detail with your partners. Different reporters, different news organizations have different styles, expectations, and ways they manage information. High trust will help collaborations.
A special thank you to Emily for taking the time to share her thoughts. We look forward to hearing her interview with Sammy Haroon during the Friday session.

About Britt Raybould

Britt Raybould has a passion for telling stories and she specializes in helping companies figure out how to tell their own stories. Through her firm, Write Bold, she shows companies how storytelling can define them, both to their customers and within their industry. When she remembers to, Britt blogs on her personal sites at and You can find Britt on Twitter @britter.

Twitter: britter

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