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Posted: October 29, 2005 10:30 PM
ONA membership doubles, convention is largest ever

By Ruxandra Giura and Christine DeProto
ONA Convention Online Staff

The Online News Association has doubled its membership and this year’s convention in New York is the biggest ever.

“We broke the 800 mark in membership just today,” said ONA President Ruth Gersh. More than 390 people registered for this year’s convention, a record for the organization.

ONA’s leaders say they plan to increase and diversify membership, reach out internationally and offer more activities for students and educators over the next five years.

“It’s not revolution, it’s evolution,” said Elizabeth Osder, senior director, Yahoo! News.

Gersh and Michael Silberman, the new ONA president set to take office on Jan.1, said the association will focus on offering more benefits to its members, finding additional sources of funding and will develop more programs and resources to make ONA a year-round presence.

Since its founding in 1999, the organization has grown steadily and it will hire a full-time executive director for the first time. Tom Regan currently serves in that position part-time.

One of next year’s priorities is to put ONA on a stable footing financially, to support more programs and “then some,” Gersh said.

Silberman said he wants to bring more value to an ONA membership.“I think the future of the ONA is really bright,” he said.

Though ONA offers memberships to students and educators, board members said the association plans to deepen this relationship in the future.

“Students and educators are really a pillar of our community,” Osder said at a board meeting on Saturday.

ONA’s board wants to focus on four areas to strengthen the ties with the journalism education community:

  1. Professional development, through mentorship and internship programs.
  2. Best practices, by diversifying the ONA awards entries.
  3. Community outreach, through campus-based clubs and other ways to communicate.
  4. Academics, by the providing more opportunities for research on online journalism and a curriculum reform.

ONA Timeline:

1999 – Organization founded. President, Rich Jaroslovsky.

2000 – Conference, New York.

2001 – Conference, San Francisco.

2002 – Conference, New York.

2003 – Conference, Chicago. President, Bruce Koon.

2004 – Conference, Hollywood. President, Doug Feaver.

2005 –
Conference, New York. President, Ruth Gersh.

2006 – Conference, Washington, D.C. President, Michael Silberman.

About this site

News on the 2005 conference is produced by the Online News Association Student Newsroom, which is supported by grants from the Scripps Howard Foundation, National Association of Black Journalists, and CBSNews.com.

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