What We Do

The Online News Association is a leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism; a catalyst for innovation in story-telling across all platforms; a resource for journalists seeking guidance and growth, and a champion of best practices through training, awards, community outreach.

Since 1999, ONA has been at the forefront of a truly revolutionary age in digital media. The programs and services we provide help digital journalists in news organizations around the globe and across the corporate, independent and non-profit sectors adapt to the changing environment. Our mission, inspiring innovation and excellence among digital journalists to better serve the public, has never been more important.

Our leadership status is reflected in ONA’s growth. Our more than 2,250 members are the producers, content editors, news directors, technologists, reporters, bloggers, designers, data analysts, academics, students and newsroom decision-makers who are creating and refining the digital medium at breakneck speed.

Not as obvious in the data but just as critical is the spirit of ONA, which welcomes non-traditional members and fosters community, out-of-the-box thinking and excitement about the future of journalism and informed citizen engagement.

ONA already offers a variety of online and in-person trainings and exposure to the latest technology and how to use it; our website brings these valuable resources to a wider audience. Members are offered access to expertise and best practices from the most innovative minds in the business.

Training and networking

ONA Local
ONA Local communities are at the heart of what ONA does, cultivating our most valuable resource, our digital journalists. Community-generated meet-ups, networking and training sessions have formed and grown in many domestic and international cities.

ONA annual conference
Our Conference & Awards Banquet has become the premier gathering of highly engaged digital journalists who are shaping the future of journalism and technology. Record-breaking numbers of journalists travel to ONA’s conference each year to learn about new tools, techniques and technologies, to discuss advancements and challenges in the industry, take advantage of the rare opportunity to network face-to-face, hear from headline-making keynotes and share best practices with peers from all over the map. They also come to soak up the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that distinguishes ONA conferences.

Our website features content and connections designed to cut through the daily information noise and resources to help journalists do their jobs.

Professional development

MJ Bear Fellowship
Fellowships in the name of a late ONA founding member are awarded to three journalists under age 30 — two in the United States or Canada and one international, in partnership with MSN International — whose innovative work in independent, community and corporate news represents the best of new media. Fellows get personalized training; paid expenses for and recognition at our annual ONA conference, and a three-year ONA membership. See our MJ Bear Fellows and their blogs here.

Student Newsroom
Each year, 20 students are chosen in a highly competitive process to work in the newsroom at our annual conference, where they are responsible for three days of coverage and the conference website. Registration and all travel expenses are covered. Students work side by side with mentors from leading academic institutions, and are encouraged to think creatively about how to communicate and share the extraordinary resources that emerge from a typical ONA conference.

Diversity Programs
ONA offers scholarships and fellowships to connect talented journalists with our conference, professional development and employers. Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students with impressive academic and journalistic achievements are invited to apply for an all-expenses-paid conference trip and a free, one-year ONA Student membership. Digital journalists from diverse backgrounds with experience reporting for mobile and social platforms are encouraged to apply for one of four CNN Diversity Fellowship, providing all-expenses-paid trip to our annual conference.

Women’s Leadership Accelerator
The Women’s Leadership Accelerator is an year-long, intensive program that supercharges the leadership and management skills of women who are pushing digital innovation. Participants will focus on a challenge specific to their careers and learn leadership skills and tools for navigating change. The Accelerator kicks off with a week of tailored, immersive programming in February, provides support and coaching to participants throughout the year and culminates with a workshop at ONA’s annual conference in September.

Challenge Fund
The goal of the $1M Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education is to hack the journalism curriculum. Our first rounds of grant winners are busy experimenting with teams of educators, technologists, researchers, students and media professionals, all excited about collaboratively exploring the possibilities. Winners receive up to $35,000 in micro-grants to support live, local news experiments. Winners can then compete to win up to $100,000 in grand prizes for best project and evaluation. We’ve partnered with 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 to launch this challenge over four years.

ONA Career Center
ONA’s online job board, open to the entire digital journalism community, gives job seekers free access to the most recent listing by employers, who will find easy online account management and significant discounts for ONA members.

Honoring Excellence

Online Journalism Awards
Since 1999, the OJAs have recognized major media, international and independent sites and individuals producing innovative work in multimedia storytelling, placing special emphasis on entries that demonstrate mastery of the special characteristics and emerging technology of digital journalism. Eleven of the awards now come with nearly $58,000 in prize money, courtesy of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Gannett Foundation, and the University of Florida, honoring data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, public service, technical innovation and general excellence.

Discounted benefits
ONA members receive hundreds of dollars in discounts for events and training as well as first word on important fellowships and other professional development.