Minutes – March 18, 2016

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Michelle Baruchman (Student Representative)
  • Jody Brannon
  • P. Kim Bui
  • Eric Carvin
  • David Cohn
  • Josh Hatch
  • Steve Hermann
  • Greg Linch
  • Jim Roberts
  • David Smydra
  • Benét Wilson
  • Jose Zamora

Not present:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • David Skok

Staff in attendance:

  • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
  • Trevor Knoblich, Digital Director
  • Jessica Strelitz, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships
  • Jen Mizgata, Senior Communications Manager
  • Jeremiah Patterson, Digital Manager
  • Meghan Murphy, Community Manager

Staff not present:

  • Irving Washington, Deputy Director

The meeting was called to order at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes for the January 2016 Board meeting (no call held in February).


  • Josh Hatch: In March, ONA posted a letter drafted by the Legal Committee in support of Apple in its fight against the FBI. David Smydra said the letter presents ONA thoughtfully and as the only board member who works for a tech company (Google), he asked that the minutes reflect that he did not have any influence on ONA’s action.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

  • Jane McDonnell: The second class of 28 women were chosen for the ONA-Poynter 2016 Women’s Leadership Academy, which will be held May 2-6.
  • Jen Mizgata: Mobile dCamp was held in Nashville at the Tennessean newsroom, focusing on a design thinking approach to mobile news. This was the third ONA Camp on mobile news. Many attendees came from the Gannett family. Next dCamp is in Toronto in July.


  • Jane is in talks with three strong candidates for consulting OJA Award Coordinator and Irving is speaking with candidates for an events planner. Both positions will be filled by April.


  • Jane, Jess and Irving attended the Digital Journalism Forum Tokyo 2016 in Japan. ONA’s goal was to start ONA Tokyo to help Asian journalists transition to digital and support the conference, hosted by SmartNews and media companies. ONA presented a session on learning from your community, and about 25 people showed up to help start up an ONA Local group.
  • Trevor and Jen attended SXSW, where Trevor presented a session on issues related to risk, and organized another that repackaged an ONA 15 session on what digital leadership looks like in 2016, with Jim Brady, Mitra Kalita, Delaney Chambers and Imaeyen Ibanga. Jen represented ONA at the Awesomest. Journalism. Party. Ever, which moved to a new venue to accommodate close to 1,000 people this year. Kim Bui, who hosted a #WJChat in Austin, went to Trevor’s first session and said it was well received, with a mix of journalists and journalists.
  • Jane: There are fewer hotel room nights for ONA16 at our conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver, but we have six or seven other hotels on contract. We will discuss other options.
  • Trevor Knoblich: ONA16 Suggestion Box launched March 3. He asked the Board to promote it via social media.
  • Jess Strelitz: Sponsorship sales are running ahead of predictions.
  • Jane and Trevor: The London conference is April 1, again hosted at Reuters UK headquarters, focused on audience engagement. More than 150 people have already registered. The event will end with a keynote speech from Lindsay Grace of American University on what journalists can learn from game design. Board members David Smydra, Steve Herrmann and Mandy Jenkins will attend. Eric Carvin, Chair of the News Ethics Committee, said he plans to use the London event to announce our social media ethics code; 10 news organizations have agreed to be listed as supporters. Also, he’d like to plan a session in Denver on how to implement these policies, with an emphasis on smaller newsrooms.
  • Jeremiah Patterson: journalists.org redesign has been shared with staff, who will review and give feedback. He hopes to launch before our London event (April 1).


  • Jane: We are submitting a full strategy to Knight Foundation on our ONA Local grant initiative by end of the month, created by Meghan Murphy. We plan to expand to 20 locals groups and offer programs to train leaders. We’re also working on how to allocate seed money for new and existing groups.
  • Jess: The next Digital Leadership Breakfast, funded by the Dow Jones Foundation, will be in San Francisco on April 22. The final event in the current grant series will be in early June in Austin, Texas.


  • International (Steve Hermann, Chair): We’ve created a draft strategy for 2016-17, and the full committee will talk next week on how that strategy will take shape. The Nordic/Scandinavian contingent is interested in hosting an event in Copenhagen and we’ll continue conversations.
  • Online Journalism Awards (David Smydra, Chair): The committee is discussing whether categories will stay the same, be tweaked, added or dropped. The goal is to finalize the categories by the end of March so we can open up entries on April 8.

The meeting ended at 1:54 p.m. ET.

The next call will be on Friday, April 8, 2016.

These minutes are submitted by Secretary Benét J. Wilson