Minutes – April 10, 2015

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance: 

  • ​Meredith Artley
  • Jody Brannon
  • P. Kim Bui
  • Eric Carvin
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch,
  • Steve Hermann
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Jim Roberts
  • David Smydra,
  • Benet Wilson

Not present:

  • ​Jim Brady
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Greg Linch
  • Jose Zamora

Also present:

  • ​Michael Kovaka

Staff in attendance:

  • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
  • Irving Washington, Deputy Director
  • Trevor Knoblich, Digital Director
  • Jessica Strelitz, Strategic Partnerships Manager
  • Jen Mizgata, Social Media and Communications Manager
  • Jeremiah Patterson, Digital Manager

The meeting was called to order at 1:05 p.m.

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes from the March board call.

Board Business

May Board meeting (Jane McDonnell): ​Jane says planning is coming together for the May board meeting. She will circulate an agenda and logistics soon. The staff and Board will discuss the conference and a two-year strategy plan, including news initiatives. Board members should let Jane know if they will not be able to attend.

2014 Financial Audit (Jane): ​Jane said she went over the 2014 audit from Gelman, Rosenberg and Freedman with Terri McKnight and it seemed to go well. The results of the audit will go to the Financial Oversight Committee , who will submit questions and comments. Jane said the audit will be reviewed with the full Board at the May meeting.


NPR office space (Jane): ​Jane said the NPR office is moving some people around, including ONA’s staff. They will be moving to a space on the same floor, with a little more space and closer to windows. Jane will try to amend the NPR contract so ONA can stay in the same space going forward.


Registration (Irving Washington, Jeremiah Patterson): ​Irving said registration went online Tuesday, two weeks earlier than last year.

Programming (Trevor Knoblich): ​Trevor said the panel suggestion box closes at midnight today. ONA has received about 140 entries so far, with more expected before the deadline. ONA has another 100 ideas or so that may be worked in after the fact. Trevor is talking with the programming team to plan ahead for setting the agenda. Trevor hopes to have a shortlist for panels next week and is targeting June 11 for a first schedule launch. He noted the schedule ends to launch when it is about 80% complete, to make sure early registrants have some idea what to expect. David S. asked about the diversity of submitted proposals so far.

Trevor said it is hard to tell, but it seems to be positive. He also said panel pitches seem stronger than last year. Trevor credits this to ONA being more transparent than last year, and that the entry form is longer and requires more information.

Sponsors (Jess Strelitz): ​Jess said ONA is a little ahead of where it normally is this time of year in terms of sponsorships. She noted many of the larger sponsorship packages are still in the works, and most of what has been settled so far is for exhibitors and the Midway. Jess will be in Las Vegas and Florida soon and has lots of calls and conversations scheduled. She’s pushing for everyone to get in early this year, as the Midway sold out early last year. Erin Polgreen, our Midway programmer, left to take on a full-time role. ONA’s new Midway producer, Christine Celise, has a deep background in technology, diversity, programming, logistics and event management.

Josh asked how ONA’s number of new sponsors vs. returning sponsors compares to the past couple of years. Jess said the majority of those contracts signed are renewals, but about 30 percent are new, so far. She said she wants to keep renewals high, but especially for something like the Midway, ONA wants new blood coming in, too. Josh said Jess has done a great job of stabilizing partnerships and keeping sponsors coming back. Jody said she would be interested to find out how many sponsors are from the West Coast.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

ONA Local / Knight proposal (Jane): ​Jane said the staff has been very busy with grant reports. The idea to seek out an ONA Local grant came in through Jennifer Preston, who mentioned Knight was interested in expanding ONA Local communities, especially in areas where there has been a dearth of support for journalists, with the goal of making the existing communities robust and expanding to other cities. ONA is interested in training and partnerships with other organizations and getting training, support and networking for ONA leaders. Jane will soon find out if they want a formal proposal. Jane said part of this grant would be a hire that would be a community organizer for ONA Local. the only potential downside is that Knight isn’t interested in international chapter expansion applying to this particular role. On that note, Jane says SmartNews has sent over ideas to have the next overseas ONA event be in Tokyo. ONA doesn’t have a local presence there right now, so that would be the first step.

Challenge Fund update (Jane, Irving): ​Irving has been on a series of calls with the funders and review committee for the Challenge Fund. the committee successfully selected 11 winners this year, aiming for “quality over quantity”. Irving thanked Jody for her work on looking over the applicants. Winners were notified this week and will be announced at the Journalism Interactive conference at the University of Missouri on April 24. Irving said existing funders for this grant are interested in renewing their support, as they are pleased with how it is going so far.

Women’s Leadership Academy (Jane): ​Jane said the Women’s Leadership Academy kicks off Sunday at the Poynter Institute. Jen will be there to represent ONA and Jane will be there part of the week. Jane will share the survey of all applicants, which will be very informative to members and employers. Jane said she was thankful to the women put their hands up to help out at this event. Meredith, for instance, is doing three workshops. Jane said this program will be a good test and ONA can learn from the feedback at these events to continue to craft a program for the next group of women leaders.

News Ethics/UGC update (Eric Carvin): ​Eric said the UGC Ethics group is aiming to do a podcast on social newsgathering standards and ethics. They are inviting guests who can focus in on issues like legal, psychological trauma, tools, etc. The group has a tentative agreement from the Guardian to use their radio studio and technician in London. The Guardian would like to publish these on their website, as well. Eric said he is moving ahead on his plan to survey newsrooms on social newsgathering. He’s hoping to team up with the Eyewitness Media Group, headed by Claire Wardle at Columbia, to tackle some of these issues as well. Eric said he’s planning to do a pre-conference event the afternoon before ONA15, a closed-door session for those who work in social newsgathering to convene and share feedback. He said he pitched a more public-facing panel relating to UGC standards, specifically the issue of vicarious trauma, and will wait to see if it makes the final cut.

Eric said editing on the DIY Ethics Code is very close to completion and should be ready for debut at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. Trevor said the DIY Ethics Code framework walks the user through different choices around major ethical issues newsrooms face and puts together an ethics code at the end. It allows for some basic editing capabilities so the language can best suit their needs.

Upcoming conferences (Jane and staff): ​Jae would like to establish a document for the ONA Board and staff as to where they are traveling for events and conferences, as a way to have transparency as to who will be representing ONA around the world.


International (Steve Herrmann, Chair):​Steve said he planning the next steps after ONA London, which gave ONA a great template for future events of its kind. Japan is a possible location, as well as Scandinavia, where ONA has a lot of members. Jane outlined that there will be a great deal of international presence for ONA at the Global Editors Network (GEN) Summit in June, as well as the International Journalism Symposium earlier this month. Irving is on the Women’s International Media Foundation inaugural committee. Trevor has been publicizing ONA15 on the ONA International Facebook page, which has been a great place to get the message out to international members.

Online Journalism Awards (Josh Hatch, Chair): ​Josh said ONA did a callout for OJA screeners and got a very good response. He’s looking to accept entries from May. This year’s awards are likely to include a new sports category as well as a possible “pro-am” category.

Diversity (Benet Wilson, Chair): ​Eric encouraged the Board to check out the Pew Research Center’s report on diversity and local digital media.

The call ended at 2:10 p.m. ET.

The next meeting is Friday, May 29 at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles; dinner Thursday, May 28.

These minutes are submitted by Secretary Mandy Jenkins.