WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 4: The Online News Association hosted a local leaders summit at the National Association of Broadcasters Conference Center on October 4, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photos by Anya Semenoff/for the Online News Association)

Why attend the ONA Local Summit?

By on April 4, 2018

ONA Local groups are the heartbeat of ONA. They’re teaching and learning new skills, sharing case studies and approaches on everything from assessing new tools to newsroom diversity, exchanging “you should meet”s and working through the issues that are keeping them up at night.

More and more, our community is gathering to solve these issues together. And a group of leaders in more than 70 cities is self-organizing these networks because they want to connect, solve problems, share ideas and, sometimes, just to be around other people who really get it. So last year, we started the ONA Local Summit to help organizers develop their skills as community leaders.

The thing is, many ONA Local group leaders are doing this work off the clock: It’s not considered part of their formal job, and their boss may not know the extent of the work they’re putting in or how it’s helping their organization grow, connect and thrive.

We’ve put together a toolkit to help you explain the value of your work leading your local journalism community, plus how you and your organization will benefit from the ONA Local Summit. Use these points to show your boss why they should invest in supporting your attendance as a professional development opportunity.

What you’ll get from the Summit

  • Leadership skills to help you drive innovation in your newsroom and community. There are lots of leadership events out there, but this one has a special focus on folks working in smaller newsrooms and news markets. The special workshops on Friday afternoon at the Summit will offer a hands-on opportunity to build these skills in topics you’ve told us are important to you, like women’s leadership and leading collaboration. “One of the things I really appreciated about the sessions is that they felt just as applicable to my day job as an editor of an online news organization as they were to organizing local journalists,” wrote one 2017 ONA Local Summit attendee.
  • Connections with other community leaders who are just as passionate about serving their local communities as you are. Attendees come from all over the world, but they have something in common: They all want to create a healthier news ecosystem to serve their neighbors. Eighty percent of the spring 2017 Summit attendees said the most valuable result of their attendance was related to the relationships with other local journalism leaders they were able to develop through the program.
  • Skills to build a community of practice for digital journalism. Ninety-four percent of people who attended the spring 2017 Summit said they felt more confident in building a healthy journalism community in their city, region or campus and that they had more concrete ideas on creating engaging events for their communities as a result of attending the Summit. This is great news for the journalists who live near them who will benefit from these ideas, as well as for their newsrooms, who gain the leadership skills they bring back from the ONA Local experience. As an attendee, you will learn community engagement, events, team management and other skills that are becoming bigger parts of news organizations’ business strategy.
  • Ideas from your peers on issues you’ll face in leading your newsroom and journalism community. When you gather this many smart, dedicated journalism community builders in one room, you’ve got to talk about the big issues we’re working together to solve, such as building trust, connecting with marginalized communities and more. We’ll convene the discussions to help you develop your thought leadership on these topics to bring back to your newsrooms.

Free training

Thanks to the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we’re able to keep registration for this event completely free this year. It will also include three meals plus snacks over the two days of the Summit. If your organization can cover travel costs, they’ll get you access to all of the above for free.

Long-term value

News organizations are beginning to recognize the value of the journalist as relationship builder. The skills you use to convene journalists in your community — everything from event planning to determining programming to managing volunteers — will help you lead your newsroom in better connecting with your audience. Look at the sessions and discussions we’re offering for the 2018 ONA Local Summit, and think about how they translate to your role in your newsroom.

We hope to see you in Detroit. If you need more help making the case to attend, email us at local@journalists.org.


Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy is ONA's Director of Programs. She is currently leading the AI in Journalism Initiative and ONA's emerging technology strategy. She is responsible for creating programs and initiatives to train ONA members and connect them to tackle big issues facing our field.