Knight Center’s ISOJ Online reaches thousands of people around the world, breaks records for the 21 year-old journalism conference

It broke our hearts last March when, for the first time since 1999, we had to cancel ISOJ, our beloved International Symposium on Online Journalism, which we annually host on campus, at the University of Texas at Austin every April.

It took us a couple of months to figure out what would be the best way to host ISOJ for the first time online only. The conference has always been streamed live, since the old days of the RealPlayer app. However, going exclusively online in 2020 was a different ball game.

With happy hearts and a lot of gratitude, we can say that ISOJ 2020 broke records. We had the biggest program ever, a record number of speakers and topics covered and reached the largest audience of our history, in the U.S. and around the world.

A total of 4,790 people from 134 countries registered through Eventbrite to participate in ISOJ Online. 26% of the registrants were from the U.S.,17.8% Brazil, 7.1% Mexico, 4.5% Argentina and the rest spread throughout the world.

From the nearly 5,000 people who registered through Eventbrite, 1,632 attended at least one live session of ISOJ on Zoom. This is four times the number of people usually register for ISOJ in Austin!

But that’s not it.

ISOJ was also streamed live on our YouTube channels, which added thousands of other viewers to our conference. As of Monday, July 27, we counted 11,014 total views of ISOJ sessions, including both live streams and recordings. 

In addition to those 11,014 views, we had 9,090 views on the Knight Center’s Journalism Courses YouTube channel that streamed the conference with simultaneous interpretation to the Spanish language.

All together, we have accrued over 20,000 views and counting! Both the number of sessions, 21, and the number of speakers, 84, are records for the conference.

Our small team at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication would not have been able to put together this conference alone, so we have a huge list of people and organizations to thank. Let’s start by thanking the 84 speakers who made ISOJ such a great, impactful and relevant conference. And a huge thank you also to our generous sponsors:

  • Knight Foundation
  • Google News Initiative
  • Microsoft
  • Univision
  • JSK Fellowships at Stanford
  • Trust Project
  • Moody College of Communication

Thank you so much for believing in us and our plans to make the best journalism conference in the galaxy and vicinity, as I joked on social media so many times. When I approached one of the sponsors with our ambitious plans for ISOJ Online, promising to reach thousands of people, she said “ISOJ will be back with a vengeance.” I loved that line so much that I also repeated it on social media, with her permission. Of course.

For the first time in its history, ISOJ counted on the help of a professional PR and marketing team, Veritas Group. They handled several aspects of the online event, including production and distribution. We are thankful to BA Snyder and her team, especially Grace Dearing and Susi Blandon. Also, a huge thanks to Knight Foundation, which made it possible for us to work with Veritas Group. 

We also counted on invaluable support from the Moody College’s tech team, especially Keefe Boener and Mark Rogers, and Texas Student TV. The team of student editors led by Moody College instructor David Schneider worked tirelessly to edit the pre-recorded presentations of most of ISOJ presenters.

For the seventh consecutive year, ISOJ included simultaneous interpretation to Spanish, inspired and supported by our partners at Univision News. Under the leadership of Esteban Mines, who has collaborated with the Knight Center for almost two decades, a team of interpreters did a great job, helping thousands of Spanish speakers, mostly from Latin American countries.

I would like to thank Mallary Tenore, Knight Center’s associate director, for her help in the leadership of this complex operation and for co-hosting the conference.

I also want to thank Amy Schmitz Weiss, a professor at San Diego State University, and a long time key person at ISOJ, as the chair for the research component of the conference and co-editor, with me, of #ISOJ Official Research Journal of the International Symposium on Online Journalism. We are thankful as well to professor Alfred Hermida, this year’s guest editor of the journal. Thanks also to Ian Tennant, assistant professor at Wichita State University, a veteran contributor to ISOJ and to the production of #ISOJ Journal.

Together, we are very grateful to our team, especially Teresa Mioli, Ryan Sagare and Filipa Rodrigues, along with administrative associate Habib Chamoun and the journalists from our newly created LatAm Journalism Review, who covered every session of ISOJ: Perla Arellano Fraire, Silvia Higuera, Paola Nalvarte, Marina Estarque, Júlio Lubianco and Sierra Juarez.

Here are the stories that the Knight Center’s journalists have published at the LatAm Journalism Review about ISOJ 2020: