The Midway is an experimental space for journalism and technology at the annual conference of the Online News Association. The conference playground, the Midway is the place for hands-on learning and experimentation with the most innovative tech and tools in digital journalism.

The Midway at ONA13 will be held October 17-19 in Atlanta. Find out more about ONA13, and learn about our participants.

Previously, we heard from many attendees that you wanted both a space to connect with your peers and more time to interact with the tools you’re using—and want to use—in the newsroom and in the field. In the summer of 2012, ONA’s Digital Director, Jeanne Brooks, conceived a radically different approach to the standard exhibiting practice and shaped the interactive nature of one of ONA’s most innovative endeavors, the Midwaya new and exciting experience, an arena full of tools, journalism innovators, social lounges, and more.

At ONA13, we’re expanding our vision to further push the boundaries. This year will see a host of new spaces and a program track dedicated to the Midway. The hardware hack station, imaginarium table, and photo/gif/video booth promise to add new levels of social and tool engagement for visitors, and guests to the space might stir up some interesting visuals for our broadcast screen. 

Here’s an overview of what happened in the Midway at ONA12 in San Francisco:

  • The Midway stage: This forum spotlighted demos, presentations, and short talks given by journalists, technologists, program managers, investors and entrepreneurs in 15-minute bursts.
  • Social lounges: Google, Twitter, and Tumblr gave advice during “office hours” to leaders in technology and digital journalism and talked collaboration in ad-hoc discussions with startup project leads.
  • Participant tables: These tables, spread out on the Midway floor, featured more than 30 tools, start-ups and journalism projects.
  • Innovators table:  This table, equipped with full power, became an organic common space for journalism and media innovators who wanted to schedule time to share their projects.
  • Hack space: Powered by Soundcloud, this open workspace became the center for the development of new ideas, with the help of projects that came out of Techraking II and Hacks/Hackers Hacking at the ONA Conference—all working in the Midway.
  • Interactive projects: Nonny de la Peña brought her moving presentation, “Hunger in LA,” in which she recreated an eyewitness account of an actual crisis in a food-bank line using game-development tools, Unity 3-D, a body-tracking system, and a head-mounted Google display, along with live audio she collected during the incident.

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