Archive — Resources

ONA, Poynter Announce First Class of 25 for Women’s Leadership Academy

WASHINGTON DC — The Online News Association (ONA) and The Poynter Institute are pleased to announce the premiere class of 25 women leaders selected for the tuition-free ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media.

The participants were chosen from a pool of just under 500 applicants, screened for potential, need and diversity across ethnicity, age, geography, technology platforms and skill sets.

“We congratulate the talented women who will make up and contribute to this incredible first cohort,” said Jane McDonnell, ONA Executive Director. “Because of the number and quality of the applicants, we’re already planning another session that will focus on promising emerging leaders and their specific needs.”

Members of the first Academy are:

Masuma Ahuja, National Digital Editor, The Washington Post
Kainaz Amaria, Supervising Editor, NPR Visuals, NPR
Heather Battaglia, Software Engineer, Northwestern University Knight Lab
Libby Bawcombe, Digital Design Director, The Atlantic
Kristina Budelis, Multimedia Producer and Freelancer
Megan Chan, Director of Digital Product, Politico
Kari Cobham, Social Media Digital Analyst, Cox Media Group
Meghann Farnsworth, Director of Distribution/Engagement, The Center for Investigative Reporting
Melisa Goh, Senior Home Page Editor, CNN,
Geneen Harston, Director of World/National News, Rivet News Radio
Imaeyen Ibanga, Video Producer, NBC News
Meagan Kelleher, Director of Digital Content, Tribune Broadcasting
Christina Kline, Deputy Mobile Editor, The Wall Street Journal
Amanda Krauss, Director of Technology, The Texas Tribune
Sarah Marshall, Social Media Editor EMEA, The Wall Street Journal
Rebekah Monson, Co-Founder, WhereBy.Us / The New Tropic
Holly Moore, Managing Editor, USA TODAY
Nuria Net, Editor, Emerging Arts & Special Projects, Fusion
Tracie Powell, Founder, All Digitocracy
Shadi Rahimi, Deputy Producer, Al Jazeera/AJ+
Mariana Santos, Director of Interactive and Animation, Fusion
Ruth Spencer, Managing Editor, Guardian US
Almudena Toral, Visual Journalist
Elite Truong, Support Manager, Vox Media
Mandy Velez, Lead Editor, A+ (

“This was an amazing and intense process,” said Kelly McBride, Poynter’s Vice President of Academic Programs. “Amazing because we discovered so many journalists doing incredible work. Intense, because there were so many well-qualified women craving leadership training. We knew there was demand for this, but now we see how significant that demand is.”

The seminar, to be held April 12-17 at Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Fla., will help women gain and polish the skills and knowledge needed to rise to the highest levels of media leadership. The classes will be structured to encourage open, candid discussion and networking, and participants will walk away with not only strong skills but with a built-in support system for the future.

Sessions will be led by prominent women leaders in the startup, tech, media and academic fields, and faculty will include S. Mitra Kalita, current Executive Editor (at large) for Quartz and Adjunct Faculty at Poynter; Liz Heron, Facebook’s Manager of News Partnerships; LaToya Drake, Marketing Manager/Media Outreach for Google and Kelly McBride.

The Women’s Leadership Academy is made possible through the generous support of the Ford Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Google; the craigslist Charitable Fund; and the McClatchy Foundation, which will also provide seed funding for up to three additional academies. Poynter and ONA will jointly host the second academy in the Spring of 2016.

About the Online News Association
The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of digital journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. Membership includes journalists, technologists, executives, academics and students who produce news for and support digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education, and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and at conferences and organizational sites around the world. Its e-learning division, News University,, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum in 7 languages, with more than 400 interactive courses and 300,000 registered users in more than 200 countries. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage of news about media, ethics, technology, the business of news and the trends that currently define and redefine journalism news reporting. The world’s top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers, and to build public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and protected discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

Learn more

Selecting the first Women’s Leadership Academy cohort: Phew

We knew it was going to be hard. But this hard?

Based on events over the past year, it didn’t take superior powers of observation to see that the tuition-free ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media was an idea whose time was way past due. But as the selection committee — myself, Poynter’s Vice President of Academic Programs Kelly McBride, Poynter General Counsel Ellyn Kamke and ONA Digital Director Trevor Knoblich — started poring through applications, we were overwhelmed by the response: 486 very qualified candidates for 25 spots.

So, how to choose?

This being our fledgling class, we left room in our selection process to pivot on the skills and chemistry that would make for a stellar, collaborative and inclusive first cohort. Once we saw the entire pool, we armed ourselves with caffeine to set about defining a clear strategy and military-grade eligibility guidelines.

Immediately apparent was the fact that candidates organically fell into two categories, experienced managers or emerging leaders. In order to accommodate both types of leaders, we agreed to move forward in holding a future leadership academy — more on this to come.

For the April 2015 class, we focused on experience, selecting for:

  • Management experience, i.e. direct supervision
  • Immersion in digital media
  • Practitioners only
  • Diversity, including ethnicity, age, geography and platform
  • Innovative thinking
  • Leadership potential

Implied in the selection was an ability to bring new ideas and unique solutions to the mix to ensure a group that would candidly, sometimes fearlessly, tackle both strategic and operational issues. We’ll be sharing more details on instructors, our talented first class and the program in the lead-up to the seminar.

We know this cohort will have plenty of lessons to take back to their newsrooms, but we’re excited about what we’ll learn as well, including ideas to bring to the next class, or building offshoot training customized for specific future groups, such as educators or developers.

We’re grateful for the guidance of our faculty, Quartz’s S. Mitra Kalita and Facebook’s Liz Heron, and support from the Knight Foundation’s Jennifer Preston. And we congratulate all 25 women in our first class — we’re looking forward to diving in. But most of all, thanks to everyone who applied. We know you’re out there, and we’ll be working to keep filling the tremendous leadership need we see in newsrooms everywhere.

Jane McDonnell is ONA’s Executive Director. She oversees and manages the day-to-day operations of the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, working closely with the Board of Directors. Her purview includes membership, partnerships, global community outreach, budgeting and revenue generation, fundraising and development, the Online Journalism Awards, and providing vision for ONA’s state-of-the-art annual conference.

Learn more

Registration opens for ONA London: Mobile

Join our all-mobile news conference

Registration is now open for ONA London: Mobile, March 6 at Reuters UK. This one-day conference will focus on how news is created, packaged and shared on mobile devices.

We’ll brainstorm on how to get your newsroom to think mobile first, engaging audiences via chat appsdesigning mobile news productspush notifications, creative ways to engage a mobile audience and more.

Learn more

Applications Open for ONA-Poynter Women’s Leadership Academy

The Online News Association (ONA) and the Poynter Institute are now accepting applications for the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Led by prominent women leaders in the startup, tech, media and academic fields, faculty will include S. Mitra Kalita, current Executive Editor (at large) for Quartz and adjunct faculty at Poynter; Kelly McBride, Poynter’s Vice President of Academic Programs; and Liz Heron, Facebook’s Manager of News Partnerships.

Only 25 promising women leaders will be selected for the program, held April 12-17 at Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Fla. This groundbreaking, tuition-free seminar will help women gain and polish the skills and knowledge needed to rise to the highest levels of media leadership. The classes will be structured to encourage open, candid discussion and networking, and participants will walk away with not only strong skills, but a built-in support system for the future.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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:

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more