Minutes – June 24, 2016

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Michelle Baruchman (Student Representative)
  • Jody Brannon
  • P. Kim Bui
  • Eric Carvin
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch
  • Steve Herrmann
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Greg Linch
  • David Skok
  • David Smydra
  • Benét Wilson

Via phone:

  • Jose Zamora

Not present:

  • Jim Roberts

Also present:

  • Alison Schary, Davis, Wright Tremaine, General Counsel
  • Terry McKnight, Goldman Rosenberg & Freeman (via phone)
  • Carolyn Skinner, Dembo Jones, Accountant (via phone)

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
  • Meghan Murphy, Community Manager

The meeting was called to order at 9:04 a.m. MT

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes for the May 13, 2016 Board call.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

2015 Financial Audit: Terri McKnight walked the Board through the 2015 financial audit, indicating ONA had a strong financial year with positive net incomes and cash flow. The Board unanimously voted to approve the audit and the 2015 990 for filing.

Grants: Jane updated the Board on current grants, including $828,000 from the Knight Foundation for ONA Local growth, $1.08 million from five funders for the Challenge Fund, $10K from the Ford Foundation for the Women’s Leadership Academy, and a total of $35,000 from the Knight Foundation for HBCU and CNN Diversity Scholars for attendance to the 2016 conference. Jane noted that we held nine Digital Leadership Breakfasts over two years with $100K funded by the Dow Jones Foundation, and that the Gannett Foundation approved a $75K grant for support for the Online Journalism Awards and the 2016 conference.


  • Jane announced that Jess Strelitz has been promoted to Director, Strategic Partnerships, effective June. She also informed the Board that accountant Carolyn Skinner has moved to a new firm, Dembo Jones.


  • David Smydra started a discussion on the possibility of ONA creating a survey or census on the digital journalism field. Robert Hernandez shared the 2009 ONA membership survey as an example.
  • Meghan Murphy gave the Board a breakdown of the ONA Local initiative and budget, including seed money disbursement over two years. She said the strategy centers on supporting and developing local leaders.


Online Journalism Awards (David Smydra, Chair): A t close of submissions, we saw 1,051 entries for the 2016 awards. Staff is now preparing for the screening and judging phase, starting with 90 volunteer screeners. Screening opens June 27. This year, there will be more emphasis on community and audience engagement as part of the review. The James Foley Award, first given out in 2015, will once again be awarded.

Ethics (Eric Carvin, Chair): The Social Newsgathering Code now has 17 signatories, and the committee will be seeking more. Eric will lead an ONA 16 panel focusing on putting ideas into practice, broken down by newsroom size. Tweaks are being made to design and content for the Build Your Own Ethics Code, which now has over 1,000 accounts opened.

Fundraising (David Cohn and P. Kim Bui, Co­Chairs): T he committee is rethinking karaoke as a fundraiser for this year’s conference and looking at different options.

Diversity (Benét Wilson, Chair):Benét announced the C NN and HBCU Fellows who will attend ONA16 expense­free in Denver. NBC will again sponsor the Diversity Reception. Benét and Irving Washington represented ONA at the recent Unity Diversity Summit in Washington, D.C.

Education (Jody Brannon, Chair): A survey was shared on the ONA Facebook Educators group in May on potential resources for educators, including syllabus, lesson plans and tech. The 10 resulting categories are now part of the group content and professors can add ideas and links to best practices and excellent student work.

International (Steve Hermann, Chair): Steve and Irving led discussion on the new vision and mission for international expansion, including focusing on three to four countries that are ripe for increased ONA involvement.

Legal Affairs (Mandy Jenkins, Chair/ Alison Schary, General Counsel): Alison discussed pulling together resources for ONA members for journalists.org, including updating the legal page to make it a clearinghouse for resources, guidelines, questions and other information.


  • Trevor outlined programming highlights, including sessions on elections, audience engagement, virtual reality and conversations with news audiences, and plans to to make ONA a home for the virtual reality community. He also said the orientation for first-­time conference attendees is in the process of being revamped.
  • Jess said she has reached sponsorship goals for the conference, but will continue to sell. She noted that 44 percent of sponsors are new this year and that the Midway will feature a mix of tables, lounges, salons and exhibits.

The call ended at 4:36 p.m. MT.

The next Board call will be on Friday, July 29, 2016, at 1 p.m. ET.

These minutes are submitted by Secretary Benét J. Wilson