Explore the ONA17 program

What to expect at the Online News Association's annual conference in Washington, D.C.

By on June 12, 2017

We’re thrilled to share the initial program for ONA17, the Online News Association’s conference in Washington, D.C. From Oct. 5-7, we’ll be hosting conversations about the most exciting trends in journalism, digging into the most pressing issues the press is facing today, and of course, connecting journalists and editors at networking events throughout the venue — and the city!

While we don’t have a specific conference theme, there are always trends emerging in any given year. Here are a few to highlight:

Tackling issues of our current political environment

Whether you’re thinking about fake news, filter bubbles, the lack of trust in traditional journalism or how the polarized electorate chooses to access news, the 2016 Presidential Election cemented a sense that people’s relationship to quality news is either limited or outright broken. We’ll tackle these themes in a number of sessions related to fact-checking, countering government propaganda, and improving your relationship with the community.

Among the most inspiring efforts our team noticed are a number of local newsrooms who are actively seeking to bridge the political divide and engage with community members with varying political opinions. We’re bringing a number of those sessions to the conference, and experimenting with a new format that lets attendees get an in-depth look at their projects.


We’ve continued to ramp up the discussions on revenue this year, with many takes on funding models for news. We’re looking at membership, premium models, ad products and more. We’re also asking some tough questions, including why resources seemingly aren’t available for local newsrooms addressing underserved populations.

Professional development

Our Career Building track gets a boost this year, with an influx of student, mid-career and leadership conversations. We’ve got strategies on inclusive hiring, tips for women in leadership navigating work culture issues, advice for those of you in untraditional newsroom roles and importantly, time for you to talk with your peers during our Table Talks. In coordination with American University, we’re hosting a mini-conference for students on Wednesday, Oct. 4 geared toward journalism students and young professionals looking for practical career and networking advice as they enter the workforce and begin their first jobs in journalism.

Finding what’s most important to you

When you’re looking through the schedule, we’ve organized it so you can figure out what will be most useful for you. You can sort by program tracks, broken down thematically; session type, which gives you a sense of how practical or inspiring a session might be; or find those all-important networking events (Hey sponsors! We love you!).

Best of all: once you click through from the schedule to every session page, we’ve included guidance in the description on the who will likely get the most out of each session.

Our commitment to inclusivity

And finally, we’re committed to creating an inclusive conference. The speakers announced in this initial program include more than 50 percent women, and more than one-third are people of color. Additionally, a quarter of the speakers come from newsrooms primarily focused on local news. We’re also paying attention to the number of speakers who come from newsrooms in non-coastal U.S. states, and so far, one-fourth of the speakers fall into this category. These are only a few of the things that ONA keeps in mind as we think about bringing speakers that reflect diverse points of view. As we expand the program and announce more speakers, we will continue to make diversity a priority.

Our leadership and staff are committed to providing a vibrant, harassment-free learning environment at all of our events. To that end, we’ve introduced a Code of Conduct for the annual conference that outlines expectations for everyone attending. Read the ONA17 Code of Conduct.

As in years past, our program release on June 12 only includes a portion of our programming. We’ll be announcing keynotes, additional speakers and a few more sessions in the weeks to come. We’re not taking pitches for new sessions now, but we will be opening calls for lightning talks and “unconference sessions”, which are voted on by the community, later this summer. We’re so excited to be in Washington, D.C. this year and we hope that you can join us. Get the discounted early-bird rate by registering for ONA17 by June 29.


Trevor Knoblich

As ONA's Chief Knowledge Officer, Trevor works to coordinate information sharing internally, oversees learning for all ONA programs, as well as registration and logistics for events.