Minutes – April 12, 2013

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Jim Brady
  • Jody Brannon
  • Josh Hatch
  • Burt Herman
  • Richard Hernandez
  • John Keefe
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Greg Linch
  • Mario Tedeschini-Lalli
  • Jim Roberts


  • Meredith Artley
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Christine Montgomery
  • Juana Summers
  • Benet Wilson/li>

Staff on the Call:

    • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
    • Jeanne Brooks, Digital Director
    • Irving Washington, Director of Operations

Old Business

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

Finances and Development

Jane McDonnell discussed the 2012 audit. ONA again is working with the auditing firm MBAF. The New York-based auditors should complete the report in May, in time for the spring ONA board meeting. An MBAF representative will call in during the meeting to discuss results.

The $100,000 grants from Ethics & Excellence in Journalism has been deposited. Those funds will be used for virtual training modules.

The Gannett Foundation has made its donation in support of ONA Camps. A Gannett representative also has said the foundation wants to sponsor badges and a networking salon at the ONA conference.

The hiring committee, comprised of Jane, President Jim Brady and Vice President Meredith Artley, is proceeding to interview its top prospect for the sales/development manager’s position now vacant after Branden Smith’s departure.

ONA is getting closer to securing a location in the District of Columbia for its growing staff to gather for regular meetings.


Jane McDonnell said, with the arrival of the EEJ grant, some of those funds will go toward supporting the “For Journalism” data-journalism modules being created by Dave Stanton of Smart Media LLC. ONA has signed an agreement that will provide ONA members free access to the training. Details will be released in May.

The Global Editors Network has included ONA in its Hacklab April 20-21 in New York; ONA will provide a representative to serve as coach, and Jane will be on the jury that selects the winning effort.

ONA13: The Atlanta Conference, Oct. 17-19

Rooms at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis can be booked already.

Conference registration opens April 29.

The ona13.journalists.org website has launched, and the suggestion box has opened to welcome members to submit ideas for the program via a suggestion box, use of Branch (the social networking tool that facilitates specific brainstorming) and a Tumblr blog.

Jeanne also explained differences in this year’s conference, as it is expanding to officially become three days long. Workshops will be integrated into the program instead of having a day’s worth of optional pre-conference workshops.

The organizing committee is looking for help in building the ONA13 conference site, especially for critical components like the schedule and community engagement. Jeanne seeks volunteers.

Any board member interested in looking at the conference organizers’ plans can ask Jeanne for access to its Google Sites hub.

Jane reports conferences sales coordinator Tom Reagan has secured many sponsors. Google will support the student newsroom this year and next, and its money has been received. Other organizations committed to sponsorship levels include: conference bags to CNN; half of the registration desk to AFP; and opening slide at the awards dinner to ESPN.

An email has been sent to potential participants in the Midway, the area at the conference for smaller organizations. The goal is to offer options for groups large and small, depending on products or services.


Student Committee: Greg Linch summarized plans to build a Facebook community for ONA student members similar to what’s offered to educators. The “closed” Facebook, intended solely for ONA members, is getting good participation in its soft launch. To grow it quickly, co-committee member Benet Wilson has begun a list of about 20 universities to target for recruiting; Lindsay Cook, a University of Georgia journalism/computer science major has been added as a student representative; and University of Missouri faculty adviser Amy Simon is on board. The group, initially serving ONA’s current 135 student members, will provide information for building skills, mentoring, job hunting and more.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Irving Washington provided an update on the ONA scholarship and fellowship programs:

  • Google-AP Scholarships: The award is now in its second of three years. The committee considered 44 eligible applicants and interviewed 10 finalists before selecting the six winners. They will be notified today. Winners will be formally announced the week of May 13, allowing time to get their information posted to the ONA website.
  • MJ Bear Fellowships: The same volunteers will serve on the committee, organized by Ann Saul and chaired by Amy Eisman, although a fellow from the initial class of 2011 will be added. Applications for the three fellowships are to be released April 18.

Awards: Josh Hatch said the awards committee has been discussing categories, rules and the fee structure, which includes changes in costs for non-members and students. 2013 marks the fifth year in ONA’s five-year partnership with the University of Miami. Jane is pursuing ideas for 2014 and beyond.

Open Agenda

Jane reminded the board that the spring meeting, set for May 17-18, will be at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, starting at 9 a.m. Friday and finishing at noon Saturday.

Web staff Jeremiah Patterson and Kevin Loker are continuing discussion with web development firms while also conceiving alternate plans to ensure the ONA website is capable of handling the volume of conference transactions and registrations.

The call ended at 1:37 p.m. ET.