Minutes – April 18, 2014

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Jody Brannon
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch
  • Richard Hernandez
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Greg Linch
  • Jennifer Preston
  • Jim Roberts
  • Benet Wilson


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

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes for the March 2014 board call.

Jane officially welcomed Trevor to his first board call as digital director. Jane reminded everyone on the call about the upcoming dinner and in-person meeting in Chicago on May 8-9, 2014.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education (Irving Washington): Irving said the Challenge Fund formally launched at the Journalism Interactive Conference April 4-5 in College Park, MD. ONA and funders held a reception at the event, which had a great turnout and people seemed excited about it. Irving noted that many attendees didn’t know about the Challenge Fund before the event and this was a good way to get applicants for the next round. Jane praised the work of the staff on this very involved project, especially Irving. Irving said the announcement of the 12 winning schools went beautifully with a great online presentation. Jody said the announcement has also led to an uptick in the membership of the ONA Educators Facebook group. 

Grants (Jane McDonnell): Jane said ONA has obtained a continued commitment from the Gannett Foundation for Online Journalism Award cash awards, conference sponsorships and ONA Camps. 

Digital Leadership Breakfast/Dow Jones Foundation (Jane McDonnell, Jess Strelitz): Jane said the first Digital Leadership Breakfast is to be held in New York on Thursday, April 24. Invitations were sent to 50 top-level managers and leaders at news organizations and platforms in the area. These invite-only breakfasts are intended to offer an open, off-the-record conversation with leaders about the business of journalism. The New York breakfast will feature Raju Narisetti, Senior Vice President, Strategy, News Corp, and Meredith Kopit Levien, Executive Vice President, Advertising, The New York Times, speaking on native advertising. Three more breakfasts are planned, with the next to be held in Washington, D.C. in July. Jane said board members are encouraged to attend these events as they can. 

ONA14 Sponsorships (Jess Strelitz): Jess gave the board an update on the status of exhibitor and Midway sponsorships for the 2014 conference. She is talking with several dozen organizations and seeing an increase in interest and visibility this year.


Website Development (Jeremiah Patterson, Greg Linch): Jeremiah said the membership site (MemberClicks) launch went fairly smoothly. The team successfully migrated about 4,500 contacts from the old system and all members received their emails to set up new accounts on the site. Jeremiah noted the team received zero complains about receipts or payments, which is a good sign. This move is intended to create a single sign-on process for membership management, conference registration, a future jobs board and more. Jeremiah is meeting with Greg Linch and volunteer developer Yuri Victor in coming weeks to map out further plans for both the backend and journalists.org (WordPress) sites. Greg said once the full site redesign is done, the committee might aim for next conference season to have some pieces of the proprietary membership system replaced and optimized, which may include involving development firms on needs that are too heavy a lift for volunteers. The board extended congrats to Jeremiah on the successful site relaunch. 

ONAUK and International Journalism Festival (Jane McDonnell): Jane said final preparations were underway for IJF in Perugia, Italy. ONA’s presence at the event will include board member and International Co-Chair Steve Hermann on a public service journalism panel, plus three workshops and four additional panels by ONA, several of which are tied to ONA’s ethics initiatives, all set up by International Co-Chair Mario Tedeschini-Lalli. 

Jane said ONA will have a presence at the Global Editors Network Summit in Barcelona in June. Jane said Steve also recently attended the WAN-IFRA conference.

MJ Bear Fellowships (Jane McDonnell, Irving Washington): Jane reported the first call for the committee is set for April 18. The staff is working on obtaining blog posts from former fellows to post on the journalists.org site. Jane noted these posts are often the most-read content on the site.

Newsletter (Jen Mizgata): Jen said there is some revamping underway for the newsletter, including a move from monthly to weekly schedule; a shorter format and additional opportunities for sponsorships. Jen said improvements to the website have led to many more names being added to the newsletter email list. The list now has just over 9,000 members and has an open rate of 20-25 percent.


Timeline for Programming, Registration (Trevor): Trevor said the ONA14 programming committee – a group of 22 ONA members – will make the first cut for suggested panels in May. The group will act as quality control and as a resource for speaker outreach. Trevor reports the ONA14 suggestion box will be closing April 18. There are more than 150 suggestions for sessions in, with many more expected by the deadline. Jane reminded everyone that registration opened up Monday, April 14. There are already 520 room nights booked at the conference hotel. 

15th Birthday (Jane McDonnell): Jane reported there has been an initial meeting with some board members and founding members on potential ways to celebrate ONA’s 15th birthday and use the event as a fundraising initiative. The board will discuss these plans further at the May in-person board meeting.


Fundraising (David Cohn and Kim Bui, Co-Chairs, Jess Strelitz): David reported the committee has met to whittle down the list of possible fundraising ideas to one for now. The committee is planning how to work with ONA Local groups to raise funds. 

Legal Affairs (Josh Hatch, Chair): Josh reported the committee has been involved in briefs pertaining to Google; all developments are on the Legal Affairs Action page of the website. ONA also has joined a U.S. Court of Appeals case on anti-SLAPP statutes. 

Diversity (Benet Wilson, Chair): Irving attended a UNITY diversity caucus in Washington D.C. in March aimed at journalism organizations having an open dialogue about diversity in the industry. He said UNITY will collect ideas, best practices and potential solutions from attendees.

Online Journalism Awards (Josh Hatch, Chair): Josh said there are small tweaks to the current awards lineup and the committee will be discussing these and other issues shortly. 

Education/Students (Jody Brannon, Chair, Greg Linch): Jody reports the Educator’s Facebook group now has about 645 members and there are more than 4,500 educator names in ONA’s database. Jody noted lots of great ideas and new members arose from the Challenge Fund.

The call was called to order at 1:06 p.m. ET.

The meeting ended at 2:07 p.m. ET.

The next board meeting will be in person in Chicago, May 8 and 9.

These minutes are submitted by Secretary Mandy Jenkins