ONA12 Session Selector; Local meetups galore; ONAvation webinar

New deadline for Session Selector submissions: March 15
What do you want to hear from the top minds in digital media? What can you teach journalists, technologists and entrepreneurs? Submit a session idea or apply to speak at ONA12. Extended deadline is March 15. After voting closes, the ONA community will vote on the proposed sessions. Voting opens March 20 and closes April 12.

ONAvation Webinar: Comics and Illustrated Journalism
Interested in visual storytelling? ONA members get a discounted registration to our upcoming ONAvation webinar on April 5, in partnership with Poynter’s NewsU, in which Erin Polgreen, recent winner of the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative, will show you how to incorporate new forms of visual narrative, including comics and illustration, into your newsroom. She’ll talk about the types of stories that can be turned into effective illustrated journalism and you’ll see some concrete examples of successful (and not-so-successful) projects. ONA members price: $9.95. Non-member price: $29.95. Not a member? Join here.

Sign up for the webinar on NewsU. Don’t forget about the discounts ONA members receive on all NewsU’s digital and in-person seminars. Members can grab promo codes here. See NewsU’s complete list of upcoming webinars.

ONA Local goes live with new guide, locator, FAQ and groups
Are you already leading an ONA Local group in your area? Want to start one where you work and live to connect with other digital journalists? The new ONA Local Guide is here to help, with fresh resources available for organizers, including a new Locator to help you find groups in your area; a handy FAQ, and Local Organizer’s Kit.

Check out the latest on the ONA Local scene:

Save the Date: Free digital training at ONA Camp Montana
We’re building a great program for ONA Camp Montana, supported by a grant from the Gannett Foundation. Put April 13 on your calendar and join us for a free day of digital training at the University of Montana in Missoula. Registration opening soon.

At SXSW, ONA co-hosts Awesomest. Journalism. Party. Ever.
Attending SXSW in Austin? You might want to stop by The Awesomest Journalism Party. ONA is co-hosting the journalism + technology event Saturday, March 10, from 5-8 p.m. at the Palm Door, 401 Sabine St. Other hosts include The New York Times, NPR, Hacks/Hackers, The Huffington Post, Webbmedia Group, SoundCloud, Newscred, The Association of Alternative Newsmedia, The John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford, The Paley Center, The Atavist, The Society for News Design, and MailChimp. RSVP now.

Updates from the ONA Legal Affairs Committee
On Jan. 20, ONA joined an amicus brief filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the case of U.S. v. Xavier Alvarez. More here. In July of 2011, ONA joined an amicus brief filed by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the case of Baker v. Goldman Sachs; this Feb. 15, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the order of the trial court in Baker v. Goldman Sachs, quashing the subpoena issued to WSJ reporter Jesse Eisinger. See more details and other committee activity on behalf of members here.

Sunshine at Sundown: Open Gov’t Happy Hour in DC
The National Press Club in Washington DC will join the Sunlight Foundation and open government advocates for a free Sunshine Week event on Wednesday, March 14, from 6-8 p.m. Come join ONA, the National Press Club, Openthegovernment.org, POPVOX, ProPublica, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Sunlight Foundation and United Republic to discuss the latest issues surrounding transparency in government. This is a free event (with a cash bar), but registration is required. RSVP here.


Grants, contests, training and pitch-its

Knight News Challenge open for applications
Enter by answering seven questions in 450 words for a shot at a share of $5 million. The theme is networks, which means the Challenge is seeking breakthrough ideas for using existing software and platforms to deliver news and information. Learn more and apply at NewsChallenge.org. Don’t delay, the challenge is only open until March 17. Twitter: @knightfdn and #newschallenge.

$56,000 awarded to four women-led news projects
Four public-service news ideas – from a site that compares local health costs and a tablet app for news comics, to a western North Carolina investigative news site, and a fast-growing LGBT site based in Seattle – each won a $14,000 award to develop their projects in the coming year. The winners were selected from 227 proposals received in the fifth year of the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative. Congratulations to ONA member Erin Polgreen, honored for Symbolia, a tablet magazine that “will blend investigative journalism with comics and illustration.” More here.

EIU and BuzzData launch data viz contest
The “Best City in the World” contest aims to promote urban livability. Using the 140 cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) datasets, contestants must create a new “liveability” index that determines which is the best city in the world to live in. Entries will be judged on visual impact, originality of the underlying idea, practical applications, breadth of data and international appeal. Entrants must be age 18 or older. More information here.

Big Idea? PitchIt for $50K funding
We Media is still taking submissions for the PitchIt! Challenge, a chance to win $50,000 to help turn two #startup ideas into something real. If this sounds like you or anyone you know, the submission deadline is March 13. Read more about the challenge.

Writing Bootcamp for Freelancers
The American Society of Journalists and Authors, the professional association of independent nonfiction writers, is holding its 41st Annual Writers Conference, April 27–28, at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. The 60+ sessions over two full days (plus a third day for ASJA members only) include ways to break into new markets, network with editors, segue into book writing with presenters including editors from iVillage, Details, Better Homes and Gardens, Discover, Wine Enthusiast, Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living, Fitness, Parade, Hearst Books, Simon & Shuster and Penguin Group. Tech-oriented workshops include Columbia University’s Sree Sreenivasan’s social media workshop; managing a WordPress website, dealing with information overload and making videos. Early-bird registration fees start as low as $249 for one day. See the whole schedule and register here.