Minutes — Dec. 11, 2015

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Jim Brady
  • Jody Brannon
  • P. Kim Bui
  • Eric Carvin
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch
  • Steve Hermann
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Greg Linch
  • David Smydra
  • Benet Wilson
  • Jose Zamora

Not present:

  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Jim Roberts

Staff in attendance​:

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

The meeting was called to order at 1:03 p.m.

Old Business

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


  • Meredith noted this call would be Jim Brady’s last official meeting as an ONA board member. He will come to the Board dinner in January. Meredith paid tribute to his long service on the ONA board, as a President and trailblazer, source of inspiration and smart thinking. Jim thanked Meredith and board members, and noted the huge growth and success of ONA over the past decade.
  • Jane offered congratulations to Irving Washington, who has been invited to join the Punch Sulzberger Leadership Program, a year-long training program.

Board Business

Student Board Representative (Jane McDonnell, Benet Wilson): Jane said the Board has appointed its first non-voting student representative, Michelle Baruchman, selected by a sub-committee. Chair Benet Wilson said Michelle is an active ONA member, ambitious and outgoing and the Board will meet her at the Board dinner in January.

Board Orientation (Jane): Jane said Michelle and new Board member David Skok will be participating in their orientation calls soon.

Diversity Principles (Jane): Jane said she is reviewing ONA’s Diversity Principles for 2016 and is seeking help and suggestions from Board members, as this area is a major priority for ONA.

Digital Security (Jane, Trevor Knoblich): Jane said Trevor has been researching ONA’s digital security, in line with 2014 financial audit recommendations. Actions will be taken on password management for staff and guidelines are being prepared for dealing with
any security or data breach.

Conference Updates

ONA16 Site Visit (Irving Washington, Jane): Jane said the staff has just returned from Denver, where they visited the site for ONA16 at the Hyatt Regency. Irving said staff talked to local city tourism representatives and Jess met with sponsors and partners during the visit. He noted there will be another big convention in the city at the same time, so the staff is working with other hotels to make provisional arrangements for attendees. Jane said the staff were pleased with the hotel, which is in a very central location. Jane asked for suggestions for a local co-chair for the conference.

International Conference (Jane, Steve Herrmann): Jane said things are gearing up for the 2016 conference in London, to be held April 1 at Reuters with a theme of audience engagement. Jess has signed Google to host a welcome event the night before. Trevor is working on programming for the event and Steve is helping out from London.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

Community Manager (Jane): Jane said the selection process now has narrowed down to two finalists for the new staff position handling ONA Local, though Jane is still open to suggestions for other possible candidates.

Digital Leadership Breakfast (Jess): Jess said the first Digital Leadership Breakfast, sponsored by Dow Jones Foundation, for 2016 is planned for Miami in January.

Digital Toolkit (Trevor): Trevor said the live scheduling tool will be released soon as a WordPress plugin as part of the ONA Digital Toolkit. A number of organizations have expressed strong interest in using it for live events. Jane asked board members to help publicize its release on social media.

ONA Tokyo (Jane): Jane said conversations are ongoing on building an ONA presence in Tokyo. ONA staff will present at a conference there in March, working with media partners on the ground. Jane asked any board members who have journalists based in Asia to suggest contacts for the staff for its visit.


Ethics (Jane, Eric Carvin): Eric said the name of the working group on the UGC code is changing to social newsgathering. The group has drawn up a code that aims not to be prescriptive, but clearly states some key principles and best practices in this field. The group is working to gather pledges signed by news organizations agreeing to abide by the list of ethics. Eric will suggest some talking points for board members to take to their own news organizations. Eric and Jane asked for any further input and suggestions from the Board by December 21, if possible.

International (Steve, Jennifer Mizgata): Jen has been following up with international attendees at ONA15 and working with groups in Brazil, Portugal and Ireland interested in setting up ONA Local groups. She said there also has been interest in Australia, Hawaii, Montreal, Peru and more. Steve said the International Journalism Festival in Perugia is another opportunity for ONA to engage internationally. ONA has taken part in previous years and is considering how to participate in 2016. Jane said the Board will be talking about international activities and strategy at the January board meeting, and likely will propose an advisory board to help.


January Board Meeting (Jane): Jane reminded board members the next meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 at NPR in Washington, DC, with a dinner on Jan. 28. There will be discussion of the 2015 and 2016 Projected Budgets and the two-year strategy.

The call ended at 2 p.m. ET.

These minutes were drafted by Steve Herrmann, edited and submitted by Secretary Mandy Jenkins.