Minutes – Jan. 30, 2015

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

NPR Headquarters

In attendance:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Jim Brady
  • Jody Brannon
  • P. Kim Bui
  • Eric Carvin
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch
  • Steve Hermann
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Jennifer Preston
  • Jim Roberts
  • Benet Wilson
  • Jose Zamora.

Not present:

  • Greg Linch

Also present:

  • Michael Kovaka, General Counsel


  • 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 9:03 a.m. ET.

Old Business

The Board recognized Irving’s promotion to Deputy Director and Jose Zamora’s election to the Board. Jane congratulated all Board members on their new professional roles since the May 2014 Board meeting.

The minutes from the December 2014 meeting were unanimously approved.

New Business

Jennifer Preston announced she would be stepping down mid-term from her role on the Board of Directors in light of her new role as Vice President for Journalism at the Knight Foundation, a major funder. The Board recognized Jennifer’s many contributions to ONA and wished her luck. Jennifer departed the meeting at 9:20 a.m.

2014 Review and 2015 Strategy Overview (Jane McDonnell)

Jane reviewed the indicators of success from 2014:

  • ONA grew from 2,107 members in 2013 to 2,238 members in 2014, a six percent increase
  • ONA experienced a three percent increase in actual revenue
  • The annual conference grew from 1,524 attendees in 2013 to 1,902 in 2014, a 25 percent increase
  • The Online Journalism Awards saw nearly 1,100 entries, including more international entries.

Jane outlined the following key initiatives for ONA in 2014, with a look to 2015: Training, networking, engagement; professional development and mentorship; policy/impact; leadership engagement/training, and new revenue.

Budget and Financials (Josh Hatch)

The Board reviewed the 2015 draft budget and 2014 year-end financials, and unanimously approved the 2014 financials, which will go to audit, and the 2015 draft budget.

Business Development (Jess Strelitz)

Jess reviewed the successful completion of 2014 goals, including:

  • E-newsletter sponsorships launched in April 2014.
  • Launch of the ONA Career Center.
  • ONA Webinars, launched January 2014, with four held last year.
  • Launch of the ONA Resources page in April.
  • ONA Local sponsorships, launched in limited U.S. markets.
  • New ONA14 sponsorships: First Timers Reception, Diversity Reception, ONA International, Karaoke

Jess introduced the goals for 2015, including:

  • New sponsor benefits at ONA15. Jess said we will be taking advantage of more space at the ONA15 hotel in Los Angeles for exhibits and events.
  • Our first London conference, to be held on March 6, 2015.

Development and Partnerships (Jane McDonnell)

Jane reviewed development in 2014, noting grants from major funders: the Gannett Foundation, Dow Jones Foundation, Democracy Fund, Ford Foundation, Robert McCormick Foundation, Knight Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation and the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation (EEJF).

Jane introduced development plans for 2015. EEJF approved funding for the forthcoming Digital Toolkit. The Ford Foundation has awarded funding for the upcoming ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media.

Jane then reviewed international participation for the coming year, including the International Journalism Festival in April in Perugia, Italy; the Global Editors Network Conference, which Robert and Meredith are attending in June, in Barcelona, Spain, and WAN-IFRA, which has two conferences, one in April in London and the other in June in Washington, D.C.

Steve urges Board members to tell the Board and/or ONA staff when they are attending or speaking at conferences and events for international journalists.

Board Officer Elections

The Board voted for the offices of President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Meredith Artley was re-elected President; Joshua Hatch, former Treasurer, was elected Vice-President; David Cohn was elected Treasurer and Mandy Jenkins was re-elected Secretary.

Membership and Engagement (Jane McDonnell, Jeremiah Patterson, Jen Mizgata)

Jeremiah noted that with launch of the new membership site in 2014, he’s received very few support requests.

Jeremiah and Jane then reviewed ONA membership demographics: In 2013, ONA had 2,107 members. In 2014, it had 2,238 members, a six percent increase.

Jen gave an overview of the social media engagement of ONA’s members and community: ONA’s community worldwide numbers roughly 25,000, including meetup attendance and membership. The ONA social media community numbers roughly 60,000. There are 10,000 community members engaging on Mailchimp, of which 18 percent follow ONA on Twitter.

Jane said further study of ONA’s membership and community can inform programming and issues like gender discrepancy, pay differences and job duties.

Digital Overview (Trevor Knoblich, Jeremiah Patterson, Jen Mizgata)

Trevor gave the Board an overview of key internal digital initiatives and Jeremiah reviewed ONA’s website statistics, stating there was a 23 percent increase in pageviews from 2013 to 2014.

Despite not having a responsive website, Jeremiah said there has been an 11 percent increase of mobile traffic to journalists.org in the last year. People responded very positively to the ONA14 schedule on mobile, driving a similar focus for ONA: London.

The staff tackled three major projects on the digital front, starting with the Membership Center relaunch last spring, the launch of the online Career Center and, next, the redesign and relaunch of journalists.org, with an eye toward responsiveness.

Jen reviewed growth of ONA Local, with new groups forming in the Rocky Mountains and Tampa Bay areas. ONA also launched new international groups, rebooted Seattle and ONA UK groups and started more student groups. There is also interest in ONA groups in India and St. Petersburg.

Jen gave an overview of ONACamps, which will continue throughout 2015.

2015 Conference (Trevor Knoblich, Irving Washington, Jane McDonnell)

Trevor introduced the conference chairs for ONA15 in Los Angeles: Megan Garvey, Los Angeles Times, Robert Hernandez, University of Southern California, and David Smydra, Google News. The program committee chairs will be Julie Westfall of the Los Angeles Times and Luis Gomez of the Investigative News Network. Trevor said the ONA panel suggestion box opens at the end of February.

Jane introduced the locations for the next two ONA conferences:

  • ONA16 will be held in Denver at the Hyatt Regency on September 15-17, 2016
  • ONA17 will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Wardman Park Marriott on October 5-8, 2017.

Online Journalism Awards (Jane McDonnell and Josh Hatch)

This will be Josh’s last year organizing the OJAs. Jim Roberts and Jim Brady said they will step up and take on some of the responsibility as part of the transition.

Digital Leadership Initiatives Brainstorm (Jane McDonnell)

The Board reviewed ideas for Digital Leadership Breakfasts from 2014 and suggested new ideas for 2015.

Committees (Irving Washington and Chairs)

The Board set chairpersons and members for committees in 2015. New chairs and co-chairs include:

  • Education: Jody Brannon
  • Diversity: Benet Wilson and Kim Bui
  • Fundraising: Benet Wilson and Kim Bui
  • Membership: Robert Hernandez
  • Legal: Josh Hatch
  • International: Steve Hermann
  • Awards: Josh Hatch and Jim Roberts
  • Ethics: Eric Carvin and Mandy Jenkins

David Cohn and Greg Linch will pick committee affiliations at a later date.

Jane reminded everyone the next in-person Board meeting will be May 28-29, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.

The next call will be Feb. 13, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET.

These minutes are submitted by Secretary Mandy Jenkins.