Archive — News


Meet ONA’s 2015 MJ Bear Fellows, under-30 digital journalism stand-outs

The Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, today announced its fifth class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under age 30 whose innovative work in independent, community and corporate news represents the best of new media.

The selection committee combed through 59 applications from 23 countries to choose these up-and-coming digital journalists — two in the United States or Canada and one international, in partnership with MSN International — who are making their voices heard in the industry.

“Once again, applicants were leading, not following, in their newsrooms,” said Amy Eisman, MJ Bear Fellowship Committee Chair. “The breadth of their entries was stunning — from deep data work and creative crowdsourcing to building tools to help news organizations in the future. In the end, we are struck by their deep devotion to news and information, to including diverse voices, and to serving their readers, listeners and viewers.”

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2015 Online Journalism Awards finalists announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Finalists for the 2015 Online Journalism Awards, representing a wide range of nonprofit, public, academic, major media, and emerging technology organizations from around the globe, were announced today by the Online News Association.

Ten of the awards now come with $60,000 in prize money, courtesy of Knight Foundation, the Gannett Foundation and the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. These awards honor data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, public service, technical innovation and general excellence.

New categories for 2015 include “Sports” and “Pro-Am” within the Student awards. ONA also debuts the James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting, which will honor one of the many journalists reporting under the most challenging conditions. A special committee will select the first recipient later in the year.

“This year, judges were swayed less by bells and whistles that didn’t add to the content, and instead zeroed in on high-quality journalism that was able to take flight on digital platforms,” said Joshua Hatch, ONA Board member and Online Journalism Awards Committee Chair. “It goes to show what a democratic force technology has become to journalists around the world.”

A group of 134 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals teamed up to screen 994 entries and select semi-finalists. Fifteen judges representing a diverse cross-section of the industry then conferred to determine finalists and winners.

The winners will be announced at the 2015 ONA Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet on Saturday, Sept. 26, in Los Angeles.

The finalists, many pushing the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution, are:

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Using design thinking to reimagine mobile news in Seattle

How might we better design the news experience for mobile consumers? This was the central challenge for over 50 reporters, designers, developers and others passionate about journalism at ONA Mobile dCamp: Seattle on July 17. Hosted by Breaking News and organized by ONA, this free daylong workshop was a crash course in design thinking that spurred brainstorming new approaches to creating mobile experiences for news consumers.

We started by creating a collaborative environment so that everyone could draw on the support they needed from their teams. That required some advance prep:

  • We invited Tran Ha and Daniel Stringer, experts from Stanford’s d.School, to explain practical ways newsrooms can use human-centered design to create products that respond directly to user needs.
  • We asked participants to apply to the workshop so we understood their areas of expertise and their experiences creating mobile experiences.
  • We built teams to take advantage of diverse skill sets and backgrounds — journalists, designers, developers and product managers.
  • Each team member got a toy animal when they checked in at registration to mark their team identity. We brought art supplies and other toys to foster creativity and playfulness for the protoyping phase.
  • We brought in team leaders from a range of local and national newsrooms to work closely with groups throughout the day, guiding them through identifying user needs, brainstorming, prototyping and refining their vision.
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Solving a problem: Designing usable interactives for mobile

This is one of a series of blog posts from the fourth ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Aaron Williams is data visualization editor at the San Francisco ChronicleYou can watch for our forthcoming announcement about the next round of fellows here.


Photo by Flickr user Japanexperterna.se

Designing interactive graphics for desktop and mobile is tough work. A designer can sometimes change the graphic’s scale to fit on mobile. Other times, it’s better to create a separate graphic for mobile viewing. What’s the best path?

A group of us tried to answer this question at the SRCCON (Source-con) conference last month.

I co-facilitated Data Viz for All: Help Us Make Interactives More Usable for Mobile with Youyou Zhou and Julia Smith. In the session, we tackled accessibility and usability of interactive graphics on mobile.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we found.

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ASAE Honors ONA for Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education

At ONA, we’re in the business of honoring great work. We’ve recognized hundreds of people, projects and organizations through our annual awards, scholarship and fellowship programs. Our programs are the driving force in our mission to inspire innovation and excellence among digital journalists.

This month, one of our very own programs, the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, received its own honor, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Power of A Silver Star Awards. ASAE’s Power of A (association) Awards, the association industry’s highest honor, recognize the association community’s valuable contributions on the local, national and global level.

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Online News Association opens call for 2016 Board of Director nominations

Posted in News

The Online News Association is pleased to call for nominations for the six seats open for the 2016-17 Board of Directors.

Participation on the ONA Board of Directors is a unique opportunity for digital professionals to help guide the world’s largest organization of digital journalists in shaping the future of media and building a stronger industry. Board participation is a chance to grow personally and professionally, and to develop skills, experience and connections with a team of other passionate and motivated professionals.

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Gannett Foundation renews $102K grant to ONA to train and recognize digital journalists

Posted in News

WASHINGTON, DC — The Online News Association, the world’s largest organization of digital journalists, today announced its seventh year of free digital media training, as well as continued cash awards to support journalistic excellence, thanks to a renewed grant from the Gannett Foundation.

The $102,500 in support provides $50,000 to enable ONA to continue one of its most popular programs, ONACamp, which so far has visited nearly 10,000 journalists in communities throughout the United States. The camps bring training on emerging tools and technology and using design thinking to find solutions to complex media issues.

ONACamp workshops are tailored specifically to the needs of independent, community, non-profit and major media journalists, bloggers and entrepreneurs. Trainers include leaders in their fields, covering the latest in mobile, data, metrics, development, blogging, legal and business, networking strategies, web tools and social media.

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Reporting on the Nepali earthquake, as journalist and survivor

This is one of a series of blog posts from the fourth ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Fellow Rajneesh Bhandari is an independent multimedia journalist in Nepal. He regularly contributes to various regional and international media, including The New York Times, Asia Calling, IPSTV, CCTV and others. Apply for the 2015 fellowship here.


Earthquake damage in Barpak, Western Region, Nepal

It was Saturday, April 25. At exactly 11:56 a.m., a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal for 50 seconds. In that short span of time, houses collapsed. People were injured. Some were trapped under rubble and died. Hospitals were filled with rescued or injured persons and dead bodies.

I was at Shivapuri National Park when the jolt was at its peak, and thankfully was not injured. Soon after, I started reporting, and it was not an easy assignment. I had challenges in finding transportation, lodging, electricity, Internet and a workstation. Life was extremely uncertain, because we weren’t sure if the earthquake was over or more aftershocks would follow.

An old house completely collapsed and other buildings were damaged near my rented apartment in Anamnagar in Kathmandu. We slept in tents in an open space with 20 other people for many days, fearing that a big aftershock could come any time. My mum would quickly cook something in the fourth-floor kitchen and bring it down, and we ate together on the ground floor. This continued for many days as the aftershocks were ongoing. I had made a temporary workstation on the ground floor where I started filing stories.

Fulfilling the role of a journalist was difficult. Two major aftershocks occurred. The first was a 6.8 magnitude on April 26, as I was filming in Basantapur, and the second reached a magnitude of 7.2 on May 12 as I was filming in Swayambhunath. Many other smaller aftershocks came in between. Reporting the story was sometimes more important than just sitting in open space for safety. Roads were blocked, some by landslides and others due to cracks. It wasn’t easy to move from place to place. Walking for hours was the only way out in most of the rural areas.

Rajneesh's workstation, Kathmandu, Nepal

With no electricity and no good Internet for a couple of days, sending files back to the bureaus was difficult. I ran to all the Internet Service Providers asking to use their service during the initial days after the earthquake, but most were closed as they feared staying inside the building long enough to fix the problem.

The people I interviewed had unique stories. One man wasn’t able to do the final rites for his beloved because he didn’t have money. In another village, the lama, or head spiritual leader, was killed and nobody was left to perform last rites. Monks were looking for relics in the ruble.

Many are still unsure what the monsoon season will bring, and how many aftershocks may still occur.


Fellow Rajneesh Bhandari is an independent multimedia journalist in Nepal. He’s done research on the convergence of media and the mobile revolution in Nepal, and he published an iPad book on autism. He regularly contributes to various regional and international media, including The New York Times, Asia Calling, IPSTV, CCTV and others. He previously coordinated Media Gufa, which requires journalists to be isolated in a room for 72 hours to report news stories using only social media and another group of journalists to report stories from a rural area without using the internet. He also is working as data editor on an investigative project launched by Transparency International, teaches journalism at WLC College, Nepal, runs multimedia workshops for national and international organizations, and is working to improve digital literacy in Nepal by training young people in rural areas how to use digital tools.

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ONA Weekly #63

 ONA Weekly No. 63

Introducing the ONA15 Student Newsroom

Congratulations to the 20 talented digital journalists who have been selected for the ONA15 Student Newsroom! They’ll provide intensive coverage of the Online News Association Conference & Awards, September 24-26, under the guidance of 20 carefully curated mentors. For the sixth year, Google is generously providing a $30,000 scholarship to cover registration, travel to Los Angeles and lodging expenses for all students. Meet the ONA15 Student Newsroom

Emerging leaders, apply for the MJ Bear Fellowship

We’re looking for talented journalists under 30 for the MJ Bear Fellowship, which provides guidance, access to ONA’s robust network and membership to ONA for three years. Fellows receive an all-expense paid trip to ONA15 and get to present their work at the conference. Apply by July 10.

Brainstorm with mobile experts in Seattle

Near Seattle? Join us for a free workshop at Breaking News, July 17. Work with mobile experts from AJ+, MSN, NBC, the Seattle Times and more to design new ways to reach mobile audiences. Learn more and apply for the training, supported by the Gannett Foundation. Looking for more on mobile? Check out resources from ONACamp Indianapolis.

Upcoming Events

J O B S

ONA’s Career Center has hundreds of opportunities for journalists, editors and digital-minded professionals. It’s free to browse and job-seekers can upload their resumes for free. Recent postings include:

ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters for journalists of color

If you’re a college student interested in journalism, apply for ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters program. Reporters receive a $4,500 stipend per semester, plus ongoing mentoring. Learn more and apply.

What We’re Reading

Some recent posts we’ve highlighted on the ONA Issues Tumblr:

Have an outstanding article on digital journalism issues to share with us? Tweet it with #ONAissues.

The Online News Association is a nonprofit membership organization for digital journalists, connecting journalism, technology & innovation. Learn why you should become a member.



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WNYC Announces Search for the Next Great Podcast

WNYC’s Podcast Accelerator to Give New Voices A Pathway, a Platform, and a Pilot

Winning Pitch to be Selected at the Online News Association Annual Conference in September 2015 in Los Angeles

June 25, 2015 – New York, NY — WNYC, home to top podcasts including RADIOLAB, FREAKONOMICS RADIO, and HERE’S THE THING with Alec Baldwin, is looking for new talent, new ideas, and new voices for the next wave in what’s been hailed as “a golden age of audio.”

Launching today, the WNYC Podcast Accelerator will give both established talent and up-and-coming storytellers the opportunity to pitch their big podcast idea and potentially win the chance to produce a pilot. Modeled after successful tech accelerators such as Y Combinator, the WNYC Podcast Accelerator is the first of its kind in the dynamic podcasting space, providing production advice, industry connections, mentorship and a platform for creating remarkable audio content.

The application period will run from today until July 15. Five finalists will then be paired with producers from top WNYC podcasts including Freakonomics, Death, Sex & Money, Here’s The Thing, and Studio 360 who will mentor and train the candidates, helping them hone their pitches – including storylines, character development, sound, texture and voice — throughout the summer. On September 25 in Los Angeles, at the 2015 Online News Association (ONA) Conference – the world’s largest gathering of digital journalists — the finalists will make their pitches to a panel of judges. The winner gets the chance to produce a pilot episode with a WNYC producer.

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