ISOJ grows culture to create, contemplate

Journalists, scholars and media executives convene from 44 nations

It was 1999 when School of Journalism Professor Rosental Alves first brought together journalists to plan and ponder a new frontier.

The inaugural International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) convened a year after Google was founded and several years before Facebook and Twitter launched. The attendees, then numbering less than 100, crammed into a small presentation room.

In 2019, ISOJ hosted nearly 500 participants and presenters from 44 nations, providing a worldwide platform for journalists, researchers and entrepreneurs to study and collaborate on digital journalism.

Themes throughout the symposium’s 20-year history include foundational issues specific to journalism in the areas of economics, technology and ethics. Additionally, funding models, social media, investigative reporting, coding and artificial intelligence have grown into timely topics for the expansive digital age. A research arm also focuses on original study and methodology related to scholarly journalistic exploration.

Evan Smith, Texas Tribune CEO and former Texas Monthly editor, helped honor Alves’ vision, and lauded ISOJ as an annual gathering to “contemplate ideas and road-test innovations.”

“It was very moving to hear all the ways ISOJ has affected participants from research and best practices to newsroom collaborations and launching companies,” Alves said. “The only thing I haven’t seen is a marriage come out of it. But then again, it’s only 20 years old.”


Marc Speir
Senior Content Producer