The International Symposium of Online Journalism officially kickstarted its 21st-year conference on July 20.
During the opening session, the conference's founder Professor Rosental Alves said the 2020 symposium is different from previous years not only because it's ISOJ's first online-only conference but also because of the problems and the developments that we're seeing globally.
Alves said this year the media is experiencing even greater difficulties than ever before as they face a global pandemic and attacks against journalists. In addition, newsrooms are also working to reinvent digital journalism and find their role in the worldwide social justice movements.
The ISOJ Research Chair Amy Schmitz Weiss, who has worked with Alves for more than 15 years, said that this year's conference will examine some of the media's reckonings about race, privilege, and gender.
"This year's research program features a robust look into online journalism scholarship–from the power of privilege issues that arise in the media industry to the way stereotypes and gendered perspectives continue to play out in media coverage," Schmitz Weiss said.
President and CEO of the Knight Center Alberto Ibargüen said he believes a conference on digital skills, knowledge, and technology is crucial in these times. The Knight Center, which is one of the principal supporters of ISOJ, sponsored this year's online edition.
"I think never has it been more important for journalists to not merely understand and be comfortable with but to dominate tech and digital platforms," he said while noting the importance of correct information in these times. "People can die, and societies can wither."
Jay Bernhardt, the dean of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas, said that despite the difficulties facing the industry this year's conference will be better than ever before.
"Like everyone else, I was so sad this year when ISOJ had to be canceled earlier, but I'm equally glad to say that now...ISOJ is back with a vengeance," Bernhardt said. "We have put the 'O' back in ISOJ."
The dean noted that this year's conference is more expansive than previous years, offering more speakers and events. With a more extensive program, ISOJ will help "close the gap between industry and academia."