A lot has happened in journalism since 1999, the year ONA’s founders met at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and decided to build an organization dedicated to digital journalists and the work we do.
Since then, ONA has grown along with you, the media community, facing challenges and grabbing opportunities amid so much change and disruption. Digital journalists once in the corner are now found at all levels in newsrooms small and large, doing innovative work, attracting audiences and supporting journalism as a whole.
And the future looks so bright. I’m delighted to be part of what’s ahead as ONA’s new president. I’m honored to serve with Jody Brannon, newly elected Vice President at our January board meeting; Josh Hatch, continuing as Treasurer, and Mandy Jenkins, new to the executive committee, as Secretary.
I’d like to thank Jim Brady, my friend and ONA President for the past two years. Jim has been on the board for five terms and all of us — including ONA’s 2,100-strong membership — benefit greatly from his knowledge and dedication.
The entire board has the honor of working with Jane McDonnell, ONA’s talented Executive Director, and her fabulous staff. Here are some of the initiatives that the staff, with the support of the board and in service of the ONA community, are taking on:
In the last year, seven new ONA Local groups formed, including the latest in Nairobi and Jerusalem, and ONACamps visited three cities with free on-the-road digital training and a new design-thinking focus.
Digital natives, students and young professionals are beginning to make their marks, and we’ll continue to help identify and support them with our MJ Bear Fellowships and the last year of the AP-Google Scholarship.
At our first three-day conference ever, in Atlanta, an expandedMidway at ONA13 became the playground for collaboration among tech, academia and media. And because diversity is a cornerstone of all of our events and initiatives, we’re proud that half of our presenters and speakers for ONA13 represented the spectrum of ethnicity and gender.
Our committees continue to keep on top of issues, legislation and policy that impact journalism (Legal Affairs) and help serve the next generation (ONA Educators), and the digital team shares useful resources, commentary and analysis (ONAIssues).
For this birthday year, we’ll introduce new initiatives befitting the industry’s maturity. On the grassroots level, we’ll continue to provide training and networking, and a strong focus on News Ethics, with a new committee looking at issues surrounding news-gathering and distribution. We’ll take on more of a leadership role to shape the policies and issues — like the Shield Law — that impact the work you do every day.
We’ll champion disruption, with the $1M Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education that will seed creativity and collaboration in academia through $35,000 micro-grants over the next two years. And, to effect institutional change from the top down, new grants will help us reach out to media leaders to discuss and share digital innovation.
Meanwhile, because this is ONA, and it’s our birthday, we plan to party like it’s 1999. We hope you’ll join us for the year-long festivities, culminating with ONA14 in Chicago,Sept. 25-27, back where it all started.
From myself, all our new Board Officers, Board of Directors and great staff, thank you for your membership, ideas and innovative work. There’s no better birthday present than the honor of supporting one of the public’s most important resources — you.