Archive — Resources

Designing Ethics in the Digital Age

Thursday, Nov. 19. 3 p.m.
Newseum, Washington, D.C.

The Online News Association and the Newseum Institute present a discussion about how the rapid proliferation of digital tools has surfaced new ethical issues for journalists and media outlets. ONA recently launched its Build Your Own Ethics Code, at

Madeleine Bair, Witness
Tom Kent, Associated Press
Mark Memmott, NPR

Gene Policinski, Newseum Institute

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ONA and Poynter Team Up for Second Women’s Leadership Academy

WASHINGTON, DC — The Online News Association (ONA) and The Poynter Institute are collaborating again to offer a transformative, tuition-free leadership program to train digital media’s best and brightest women in Spring 2016.

The second ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, offered to 28 U.S.-based participants, will take place the week of May 2, 2016, at Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida. The interactive, five-day program will focus on critical leadership skills specific to digital media for the industry’s next generation of women leaders.

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The Wall Street Journal,, Baltimore Sun and BBC News take home 2015 Online Journalism Awards

LOS ANGELES — Coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the Baltimore riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death and the shootings in Canadian Parliament took top honors Saturday night at the 2015 Online Journalism Awards, which ended the Online News Association Conference.

At the 15th annual awards dinner, ONA also announced Cengiz Yar, a documentary photographer and freelance photojournalist who is founding Board member of the Frontline Freelance Registry, as the first recipient of the James Foley Award, honoring work by reporters in conflict zones and named for the Global Post freelancer killed in Syria in August. The late journalist Dori J. Maynard also was honored with the Rich Jaroslovsky Founder Award for her tireless work in promoting diversity in media.

New start-up, the Baltimore Sun and The Globe and Mail dominated the Breaking News categories. The $15,000 University of Florida Awards in Investigative Data Journalism were won by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s deep data dive into tax assessments and the Austin American-Statesman for “Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences,” a look at Texas’ failure to help protect vulnerable children. The newest category, sports, was won by Taffy Brodesser-Akner for Matter on the first all-female cast of ultimate fighters, and The New York Times for its “web-native storytelling” around the World Cup.

Each winner of the three General Excellence Awards — The Washington Post, Quartz ( and KBIA News ( — took home a $6,166 prize, courtesy of the Gannett Foundation. The Knight Award for Public Service, with a $5,000 prize from the Knight Foundation, went to BBC World Service, BBC News for its use of WhatsApp in response to the Ebola crisis. The New York Times won the $5,500 Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism Award for its open-source graphics tool, ai2html.

Here are the winners in each category, with links to their winning entries:

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Why local journalists can help save local journalism

By Jane McDonnell, Executive Director

Never underestimate the power of connections. In 2008, the Online News Association launched ONA Local, groups of like-minded journalists in cities large and small who organized themselves — meeting up in bars, swapping war stories, sharing the excitement and fears they felt about the potential of this digital journalism thing.

Seven years later, there are 50 unique groups around the world representing 10,000 participants, ranging from the largest (2,000-plus in Washington, D.C., and New York) to the smallest (29 and growing in Detroit) to the newest (ONA Singapore). Events range from simple get-togethers to sophisticated monthly meetups with high-end speakers and trainers. They all share ideas for innovative ways to cover news, spark collaborations, use the latest tools, and job openings.

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We recently announced a generous grant from the Knight Foundation to expand and strengthen ONA Local groups across the U.S. We know you might have questions about the program and how it will work. If you don’t see an answer to your question below, just let us know at

If you’re interested in starting or leading an ONA Local group in your town, city or state, please fill out this form, and we’ll follow up with you as we plan for 2016.

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Online News Association launches free Build Your Own Ethics Code at 2015 conference

LOS ANGELESThe Online News Association today launched a fully crowd-sourced tool that allows journalists to easily customize and publish a digital ethics code.

The Build Your Own Ethics Code platform, supported by a $40K grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, addresses the intense interest and concern in the digital journalism community around the growing ethical issues unique to social media, technology and the viral nature and speed of breaking news.

Using the tool, journalists can review and easily select statements from a menu addressing more than 40 ethical issues, including user-generated content, verification, data journalism, social networks, suicide, graphic visuals, hostage situations, privacy, gender and ethnicity and hate speech. They then can tailor a code and export it for publication and internal use.

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Georgia News Lab, New Mexico News Port win Challenge Fund grand prizes

Over the past two years, we’ve chosen 23 winning projects in our $1M contest to encourage educators to hack the journalism curriculum. The competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education was created in 2014 to encourage journalism programs to experiment with new ways of providing news and information.

Today we announce a grand-prize winner for the Challenge Fund to two schools — and their collaborators — that embody the full spirit of the challenge. Georgia News Lab and its partners, led by the University of Georgia, will receive $65,000 for their innovative project, a series that led to a state ethics commission investigation into a program that squandered millions of dollars of federal HIV grant money. This was an impressive collaboration among four schools and two media companies in the state.

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ONA, Conferences and Diversity: One Step at a Time

By Irving Washington and Jane McDonnell

When 2,000 journalists land in Los Angeles for the 2015 Online News Association Conference (ONA15) this month, the makeup of the folks in the room will look much different than it did in 2008.

ONA15 speakers include 52 percent women, 36 percent people of color, 25 percent local news and eight percent international representation. Those numbers got the attention of the GenderAvenger’s Hall of Fame, and have attracted even more resources for diversity-focused opportunities and events throughout the three days of the conference.

But it wasn’t always that way. As ONA struggled to help journalists deal with cataclysmic changes over the past 10 years, diversity slipped out of focus. That loss is difficult to make up, but it’s nowhere near as daunting as annual discouraging data suggests. The really hard part? Starting.

We humbly offer one hard-earned piece of advice: Take one step at a time, baking diversity into everything you do. While it’s an ongoing, organic process, we’ve made some progress that we’re happy to share in the hopes that our experience can help other organizations develop their game plans to better represent and cover the communities they serve.

Attendees at an ONA dCamp work together to tackle a human-centered design challenge.

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Slate announced for 2016 ONA Board of Directors election

We’re happy to announce the slate of nominees for the 2016 Board of Directors for the Online News Association.

Under the bylaws, the board may be comprised of up to 15 voting members. For the 2016-17 Board term, there are seven seats open, with one seat reserved for appointment, leaving six seats open for election. Terms are for two years and begin Jan. 1, 2016.

Five new candidates and six incumbents, representing a wide and diverse range of digital media, are running.

Here is the slate; head to this page to find out more about the candidates and their vision for ONA.

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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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