Archive — Resources

A Holiday Thanks: ONA’s Top Resources of 2014

Happy holidays from ONA! In fine ONA tradition, our gift to you is a round-up of our most useful resources from 2014, drawing on our annual conference, events and training throughout the year. With everything we do, we focus on making sure working journalists have strong, practical takeaways and we know you’ll find something here to inspire and motivate you in 2015.

We hope that you have had a productive year and wish you have a peaceful holiday season.

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A look at the business of journalism at ONACamp Phoenix

At our final ONACamp of 2014, a range of journalism and business experts convened at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix to share tips about the business of digital journalism. Funded by a generous grant by the Gannett Foundation, this full-day training featured eight sessions that provided tips on how to align journalism and business goals into strategy and news projects.

Capturing Value

Jake Batsell, Assistant Professor at Southern Methodist University’s Division of Journalism in Dallas, kicked off the day with a keynote conversation on audience engagement and the business of digital news. In preparation for his forthcoming book, Jake visited over 25 newsrooms in the United States and United Kingdom and did over 100 interviews investigating engagement, loyalty and revenue. He found newsrooms are trying to engage readers in five main ways: face-to-face engagement, news as conversation, serving the “passionate vertical,” search, explore and play, and measuring and monetizing the audience relationship.

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ONA, Poynter Team Up for Innovative Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Online News Association (ONA) and The Poynter Institute will partner to create an intensive, tuition-free leadership program that addresses the unique needs of women in digital media.

The ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, April 12-17, 2015, at Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Fla., will focus on critical skills for women moving up the ladder in digital journalism and technology organizations and the documented challenges they face on the path to leadership.

This partnership will combine the resources of the world’s leading digital media organization, ONA, with the global leader in professional journalism education, The Poynter Institute.

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What 100+ Challenge Fund experiments taught us

It’s been a full year since we launched the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, a $1 million competition encouraging universities to create teams to experiment with new ways of providing news and information to their communities.

The 2014 Challenge Fund winners are in their first six months of experimentation and we look forward to sharing what they’re learning, but it’s already time to look for the next batch of innovation happening in schools across the country.

Last year, we saw so many promising ideas that our partners — the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation — expanded the fund to support two additional winners, bringing the total to 12, and recognizing 13 honorable mentions.

And, as with any experiment, we learned things along the way, including what makes a great application. Here are some tips:

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What makes a winning Challenge Fund entry? Imagination

Music, maps and mold. That may not entirely sum up what we were shooting for when we opened applications last year for the first Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, but it comes close.

The $1+ million competitive fund, aimed at seeding experiments in J-schools, received 125 entries in its first year from schools hoping for the resources to reinvent their curriculum and local news. The dozen schools selected each won $35,000 micro-grants by highlighting collaboration, innovation and solid planning. Winning teams included some combination of students, researchers, media professionals, educators, developers and designers, all focused on community engagement.

The Challenge Fund is the brainchild of a collaborative that includes the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Democracy Fund, This year, the Challenge Fund is expanding with additional support from the Rita Allen Foundation.

Applications for 2015 opened November 5, and for this year’s launch, we’re highlighting just a few of our 2014-15 winners below to illustrate the diversity of focus and approaches.

Texas State University: Can journalism about music break out of routine story forms, uncover unheard voices and untold tales, and provide more useful formats to the community? Texas State University partners with Texas Music Magazine, KUT Austin, Texas Music Office, Cox Media Group, consultants from NPR, Twitter and MakerSquare to find out with “TexasMusicViz.”

University of Illinois: “Intersections” is tackling the idea that openly mapping a city’s often invisible social media conversations will change the nature of journalism in that community, working with its media partner

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism: With “Hack the Mold,” CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and its partner, The New York Daily News, is experimenting with both in-person and online engagement with tenants when reporting on a low-income community’s experiences with mold in New York City public housing.

You can hear more details about the work and progress of many of our winners by watching them present at ONA14 in Chicago in September.

The deadline for this year’s applications is Jan. 15, 2015. Make sure to check out these very helpful resources as you’re deciding what project to pursue or applying to the Challenge Fund. In addition to the micro-grants, the competition will culminate in at least one grand prize for the project most likely to change either local newsgathering, journalism education or both. A second overall prize will be given for the best project evaluation, regardless of the experiment’s outcome.

We plan to support up to 23 projects by the end of this round. We hope yours is one of them.

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ONA Weekly #29

 ONA Weekly No. 28

Free ONACamp Phoenix focuses on business and revenue

Join us for a special free ONACamp in Phoenix Nov. 8 to explore the business side of digital journalism. The full day, funded by the Gannett Foundation, will focus on innovative revenue models that are working for news outlets across the country, as well as how editorial staffs can collaborate on business goals. You’ll hear from leaders at newsrooms large and small about how they’re experimenting with native and mobile ads, handling product management and how user engagement can organically inform revenue strategy. Register now.

Upcoming Events

Free webinar: Traffic driving tactics

Join Bloomberg Oct. 21 at 11 a.m. EST for a free webinar on growing your digital audience. A Bloomberg audience development expert share tips for improving traffic from SEO, social media, partnerships and paid channels. Register now!

Just posted! New opportunities for journalists

Our Career Center has dozens of opportunities for journalists, editors and digitally minded professionals, all available for free viewing. New postings include:

Enter the Shorty Awards

The Shorty Awards, honoring the best news organization and brands on social media, are now accepting entries! Deadline is Nov. 14. Questions? Contact Doreen Naor at

Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards

Know someone involved in tackling free expression threats, either through journalism, campaigning, the arts or using digital techniques? Nominate them for the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards 2015.

What we’re reading:

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

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ONA Weekly #28

 ONA Weekly No. 28

All the ONA14 resources in one place

All the great information from the Online News Association Conference in Chicago is now yours to dive into and share with your newsrooms. You can access audio and video of most sessions, comprehensive Student Newsroom coverage, photos from the event and details about the winners of the Online Journalism Awards at ONA14 resources.

ONA opportunity: free tickets to “Conversations”

Daily News Innovation Lab’s Conversations event on Oct. 15 in New York will feature leaders from Buzzfeed, Vice, Vox and Business Insider discussing how new media players are shaping the industry. The first 25 members of the ONA community to sign up with with discount code FRONA will receive free tickets.

Upcoming Events

Increase your online traffic!

Join Bloomberg Oct. 21 at 11 a.m. EST for a free webinar to learn how to grow your online audience. A Bloomberg audience development expert will discuss how to attract audience and answer your questions. Register now!

This content is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Society of Business Editors and Writers Fall Conference

SABEW’s Fall Conference features solid business journalism sessions as well as those focused on U.S. monetary policy, high-frequency trading, mergers and acquisitions, corporate fraud, and an update on the Affordable Care Act. Learn more and register.

What we’re reading:

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

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ONA14 resources: Session videos, photos, tips and takeaways

As we pulled together our annual post-conference resources, we were again blown away by all of the inspiring sessions and great energy from this year’s Online News Association Conference, where over 1,900 journalists and technologists joined us in Chicago. We saw a whopping 936 new attendees and were thrilled with how our community welcomed them into the fold.

This was our largest conference to date and we’re proud to say that as we’ve grown, our community has maintained a commitment to networking and helping each other by exploring and sharing the newest technology and practical advice to bring back to their newsrooms. Whether you come from a large organization or a small newsroom, whether your interest is in breaking news or producing news for mobile, whether you identify as a digital journalist, journalism-coder, journo-entrepreneur or media diversity advocate, we have something for you.

Please enjoy these ONA14 resources — and let us know how we can help foster more training, networking and professional development in the next year and at ONA15.

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2015 James Foley Award to honor unsung heroes: conflict reporters

Video produced by Matthew Geer

All too often, it takes a searing, unthinkable image to make the public aware of the dangers a unique breed of journalists face daily. On Aug. 19, one hit particularly close to home with the brutal murder of freelance photographer Jim Foley in Syria at the hands of ISIS, after being held captive for nearly two years.

Jim’s work, like that of his colleagues’, appeared across the globe, as photos, videos or dispatches, describing the horrors of combat, the broken lives of civilians, the legacy of political decisions made far away. It’s crucial work, and, now more than ever, life-threatening. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 40 journalists have died doing their jobs in 2014 so far, covering war, corruption, crime, culture and politics in far-flung countries around the world.

The 2015 James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting, announced at the Online Journalism Awards Banquet on Sept. 27 during the Online News Association Conference in Chicago, is a step toward recognizing that work, and honoring the men and women who see it as their mission. It will be awarded next year to a digital journalist doing excellent reporting in the most challenging conditions and we’ll be formulating the criteria and selection process for the award over the next months.

When Phil Balboni, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Post, came to ONA with the idea of honoring Jim and his colleagues — with blessings from his parents, Diane and John Foley — we knew immediately the answer would be yes. Phil worked closely with Jim until his abduction and worked with his family to try to secure his release, and knew firsthand Jim’s dedication to his craft.

As ONA Board member and former ONA President Jim Brady said in announcing the honor, “We hope this award will keep Jim’s spirit and memory alive, and help highlight the brave and dangerous work our colleagues do so that we all may benefit.”

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Seattle Times, ProPublica, NPR take home 2014 Online Journalism Awards

Posted in Resources

See video of the Online Journalism Awards ceremony here.

Coverage of natural disasters and health care as well as the making of a T-shirt took top honors Saturday night at the 2014 Online Journalism Awards, which ended the Online News Association Conference.

At the 14th annual awards dinner, ONA also announced a new award for 2015, the James Foley Award, honoring work by reporters in conflict zones and named for the Global Post freelancer killed in Syria in August.

The Seattle Times and Calgary Herald dominated the Breaking News categories with respective coverage of a local landslide and floods in Alberta. The two newest OJA categories, the $7,500 University of Florida Awards in Investigative Data Journalism, were won by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s examination of screening programs for newborns with rare diseases and MPR News for the cover-up of sexual abuse within the Catholic church.

Each winner of the three General Excellence Awards — The Los Angeles Times, ProPublica and the Center for Public Integrity — took home a $5,000 prize, courtesy of the Gannett Foundation. The Knight Award for Public Service, with a $5,000 prize from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, went to The Miami Herald’s I-Team investigation into Florida’s lack of protection for abused children. Northwestern University Knight Lab won the $5,500 Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism Award for its widely used Publishers’ Toolbox.

Launched in 2000, the OJAs are administered by the Online News Association and are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism, focusing on independent, community, nonprofit, academic and major media.

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

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