Minutes – June 24, 2014

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Jody Brannon
  • Jim Brady
  • P. Kim Bui
  • Eric Carvin
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch
  • Steve Hermann
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Greg Linch
  • Benet Wilson.
  • Jon Hart, General Counsel
  • Michael Kovaka


  • Jennifer Preston
  • Richard Hernandez
  • Jim Roberts


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

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes for the May board meeting.

Board Business

General Counsel (Meredith Artley): Meredith announced to the Board that Jon Hart, after 15 years of service as founding General Counsel of ONA, would soon be leaving to take on a new role as General Counsel for NPR. She introduced Michael Kovaka of Cooley LLP, who will be be handling ONA’s legal affairs going forward. Jon will continue to be involved with the Legal Affairs Committee as a volunteer.

Nominations/Elections (Meredith Artley, Jane McDonnell): Meredith said Teresa Hanafin will help on the board election process again this year as Chair of the Nominating Committee. Teresa is reviewing the process for nominations discussed in previous meetings. The Executive Committee work on coming up with a few strong candidates, then that list will move to the nominations committee. Nominations for this year’s elections will open to the public on July 15.

Membership Numbers Update (Jane McDonnell, Jeremiah Patterson): Jeremiah said ONA has seen an increase in membership from ONA14 registrations and OJA entries in recent weeks. He said ONA had 2,544 members as of June 23, finally breaking the 2,500 milestone, although those numbers need to be analyzed. Jane explained ONA has typically lost membership around this time of year, with a rise around the time of the conference, translating into no real increse. Jane said this membership rise for June is likely due to more and better promotion of the conference, programming and registration. She also notes the increase in off-conference programming has helped too.

ONA14 and Online Journalism Awards

Registration Updates (Irving Washington): Irving says conference registration is up 17 percent compared to this time last year. ONA14 is trending to have higher attendance than last year and on pace to meet budgeted goals this year.

Program Launch (Trevor Knoblich): Jane said Trevor has ONA14 speakers confirmed and registered, way ahead of schedule. Trevor said blog posts on journalists.org are planned to highlight ONA14 programming. He said he thinks the program will have a strong science component this year, as well as a renewed focus on entrepreneurship and ethics. Trevor noted there has been a programming focus on diversity, and right now ONA14 presenters are well balanced in terms of gender, with 35 percent speakers of color.

ONA14 Sponsorships (Jessica Strelitz): Jess said there is a big number of sponsorships packages sold, but some prime spots are still available. Jess also noted several groups are interested in bringing in snacks and drinks as part of their sponsorships this year, which attendees will like. Midway sponsorships are going fast and could be closed out in the next week. Jess also said Career Fair registration opened this week. On a related note, Jess said a new Knight Foundation grant will cover ONA14 attendance for Knight grantees and HMCU student scholarship winners. This conference scholarship will help get more students and journalists of color to the conference at no cost.

Awards Update (Irving Washington, Josh Hatch): Irving said the preliminary numbers for OJAs indicate a growth of more than 10 percent in entries and incoming revenue tied to submissions. Josh praised the staff for making this growth possible, notably Jeremiah and Irving for improvements to submission process and Jennifer for getting the word out so effectively.


Net Neutrality (David Cohn, Josh Hatch): David said deliberation and research has continued on ONA’s involvement on the issue. The FCC is taking comments on net neutrality and David said ONA may be able to submit a formal comment once a statement is prepared. Discussion will resume on this on the the July 11 Board call.

ICANN (Josh Hatch): Josh said he sent board members’ outstanding questions on iCANN involvement from the May meeting on to the contact who asked ONA to join. ONA agreed to apply to join iCANN in an advisory role. Josh said ONA’s application was received, but no word yet on if it has been approved.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

Grant Update (Jane McDonnell): Jane said ONA has a grant from the Knight Foundation to expand the Challenge Fund winners from 10 to 12. Jane also noted the Rita Allen Foundation also approved a new $200,000 grant. The Knight grant is above ONA’s budget expectations for the year, Jane said.

Digital Leadership Breakfast/Dow Jones Foundation (Jessica Strelitz): Jess said the staff is working on plans for the July Digital Leadership Breakfast in D.C. She noted there will also be a third breakfast scheduled during the conference in Chicago on Friday, Sept. 26, that will include 40-45 people, which is larger than usual.


MJ Bear Fellowships (Irving Washington): Irving said ONA received fewer MJ Bear applications than last year. He noted the system used this year was better for weeding out applicants who didn’t qualify and it eliminated some who would have qualified last year, which may make up for the difference. He said the quality of applicants is really great overall and ONA will announce winners at the end of July.

AP-Google Scholarship (Irving Washington): Irving said winners will be announced June 25. Both winners are female grad students: Beatrice Katcher from University of California, Berkeley, and Allison McCartney from Stanford University.

Website Development (Jeremiah Patterson, Greg Linch): Greg said Yuri is out this week, but he and Jeremiah are working with him on a timeline and to-do lists for the next design iteration of journalists.org. Greg noted his contributions will be remote due to his planned year abroad. Jeremiah said ONA14 site updates are underway, making for better integration with the schedule. He also said the Career Center launch for the website is almost ready.


Legal Affairs (Josh Hatch, Chair): Josh said the committee opted to join an industry letter to encourage recognition of SCOTUSBlog as a member of the press at the Supreme Court.

International (Steve Herrmann, Chair): Steve said ONAUK had a successful second event in London, and has established a great rapport with the BBC College of Journalism, which is interested in hosting a future event. He is discussing with WAN-IFRA having ONA sessions on the schedule for their fall conference in Amsterdam.

Fundraising (David Cohn and Kim Bui, Co-Chairs): Kim said the committee had a plan to do a raffle with ONA Local groups, but the staff suggested that effort might be too time-intensive this close to the conference. Instead, she said the committee will be focusing on a digital raffle around ONA14 where all prizes will be digital. David noted the committee still has some state laws to sort out before launch. Jon said he and Michael can help connect them to good resources to ensure that is squared away.

The call was called to order at 1:06 p.m. and ended at 2:11 p.m. ET.

The next call will be Friday, July 11, 1 p.m. ET

These minutes are submitted by Secretary Mandy Jenkins