Minutes – Jan. 24, 2019

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

Board members in attendance: Justina Sharp (Student Representative), P. Kim Bui, Eric Carvin, Rubina Madan Fillion, Rodney Gibbs,  Josh Hatch, Charo Henriquez, Imaeyen Ibanga, Mandy Jenkins, Celeste LeCompte, Greg Linch, Nathalie Malinarich, Shazna Nessa, Niketa Patel, Ebony Reed (by phone), Versha Sharma, David Smydra.

Board members not present: Benét Wilson.

Also present: Alison Schary, Davis, Wright Tremaine, General Counsel.

Staff in attendance: Irving Washington, Executive Director; Trevor Knoblich, Head of Programs and Events; Jessica Strelitz, Head of Strategic Partnerships, ; Bill Brady Strategic Partnerships Coordinator, Jen Mizgata, Director of Programs; Adam Nekola, Senior Digital Manager; Meghan Murphy, Senior Manager, Communities and Local Journalism Initiatives; Karolle Rabarison, Communications Manager; Diana Lopez, Administrative Assistant.

The meeting was called to order at 1:10 p.m. ET

Old Business

Executive Director’s Report

  • Irving went over strategic frameworks and the agenda for the day.
  • Budget, revenue and expenses were reviewed.

Program Evaluation Highlight: Training / Recognition

  • ONA18: Trevor discussed the outcomes of the 2018 conference. ONA18’s net promoter score was well within the excellent range
  • ONA Insights: 2018’s event had two tracks: Revenue and Audience Engagement. Anecdotal feedback was very good.
  • OJAs: We had more than 1,100 submissions, with three new awards.

Program Evaluation Highlight: Community

  • Women’s Leadership Accelerator: 2018 was the second year of the accelerator program. Many of the speakers were new and site visits continued (KCRW, Texas Tribune, WSJ, Mic). There were also programs across the country, like NAHJ, ONA18 and for local leaders. The deep sponsorship and support was discussed. The 2019 cohort will be announced soon, with a new partnership with UCLA and 26 seats.
  • Journalism 360: This program is focused on thought leaders. $195,000 was awarded to projects in 2018. Three new events were hosted in 2018. ONA18 also had the Immersive Journalism Film Festival. A new newsletter was launched, in addition to the Facebook group.
  • Journalism Mentorship Collaborative: This was from a one-time grant to help support inclusive mentorship programs, with a broad collective with many newsrooms, and a smaller group of fellows. Two in-person training events were held with the fellows, and six webinars with the collective. The number of mentors and mentees has risen for the fellows. Future funders will be explored in 2019.
  • ONA Local: A 2.5-year grant with the Knight Foundation has ended, which allowed us to expand and extend our ONA Local groups. A new application process has been launched, as has a new leadership structure. In 2019, focus will be on developing ONA Local Leaders with virtual and in-person leadership training. We will be working with partners (Knight, Facebook) on a Local News Leadership Summit in Denver in March.

Marketing and Communications

  • Newsletters: We now have four newsletters, three that generate revenue, and two of them were experiments in 2018 (J360 and Conference Daily). We’re looking at getting more information and feedback about who reads ONA Weekly.
  • Social: We have presence on two Twitter accounts, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Twitter and Facebook Groups as well as Instagram will be a focus for this year. The PT support and volunteer social teams for the conference will be expanded a little bit. YouTube was also discussed.
  • 20th Anniversary: This will be a focus on 2019, with a look back at the past and a look toward the future of the organization.

Membership and Operations

  • ONA Branding: Branding will be more formalized in the next year.
    • Typography and color palette has been formalized, with our circular and pixelated patterns. The logo has also been cleaned up.
    • Adam discussed our compliance with GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act and our move to Salesforce.
  • Membership Communications: We are working on better membership communications. A new membership communication flow is being piloted. This process would also allow for more targeted communications to different demographics (women, academics).


  • It is our fifth consecutive year of sponsorship growth.
  • ONA18: 20% of sponsors were new. The Midway is doing well, as well as receptions and breakfast conversations.
  • ONA19: The Midway and exhibition will be combined again.There will be more year-round options for recruiting. Local sponsorships were discussed, as with Women’s Leadership Accelerator. Printing and paper were lessened for sponsors and otherwise in 2018, and it will continue.
  • Foundations: We are continuing to evaluate foundations and pushing for more multi-year grants, which are easier on programs.

Advocacy / Legal

  • Alison outlined our Legal Teamwork on amicus briefs, like supporting the Miami Herald, and unsealing the Perry vs Hollingsworth trial.
  • We are anticipating more efforts on FOIA and continuing partnerships with the Reporter’s Committee.


The board unanimously approved adjusted minutes for 2018 board calls and meetings.

The board discussed potential bylaw changes:

  • Making officer terms for the President and Vice President two years, automatically extending an officer to another full term if elected in the middle of their board term.
  • Establishing term limits to five consecutive two-year terms or 10 years.
  • Establishing a predetermined number of board appointments per year.
  • Using the ex-officio position for an immediate past president of the board for a one-year term.
  • The board unanimously approved the bylaw changes.

The meeting ended at 4:43 p.m. ET.

These minutes are submitted by Secretary P. Kim Bui