Minutes – May 11-12, 2012

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Jim Brady, President
  • Jody Brannon, Treasurer
  • Will Sullivan, Secretary (on conference call)
  • Joshua Hatch (on conference call)
  • Amy Webb (on conference call)
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Juana Summers
  • John Keefe
  • Christine Montgomery
  • Cory Haik
  • Burt Herman
  • Mario Tedeschini-Lalli
  • Katie King
  • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
  • Sean Connolly, Digital Manager
  • Jeanne Brooks, Director of Innovation and Community Engagement
  • Jennifer Mizgata, Communications and Social Media Manager
  • Branden Smith, Senior Business Development Manager
  • Jon Hart, General Counsel, Dow Lohnes PLLC


  • Rob King

Call to order – Friday, May 12, 9 a.m. PST

Jane McDonnell introduced Branden Smith, the new Senior Business Development Manager, to the group.

Jim Brady welcomed the board and discussed how to make effective use of the time allotted for the meeting.

Big ideas discussion

Jane reviewed how the organization has changed over the years to set the stage for a discussion about key strategic focuses for the future. Jane opened the discussion and invited board members to suggest initiatives that the board might choose to undertake. Some of the suggestions and discussion points included:

  • Understanding of economics for news organizations and how journalists can work effectively with the business side of their organizations
  • Integrating news operations with technology teams and digital newsroom workflows
  • Investigative journalism and FOIA skills, as well as encouraging shoe-leather, community reporting
  • Advertising standards and best practices
  • Open source tool development and sharing
  • Social media standards and ownership of content
  • Digital ethics for journalism
  • Training leaders on how to encourage innovation and manage goal prioritization and execution
  • Digital literacy and understanding about how people are actually consuming the news
  • Work with tech and startup incubators to help find partnerships with media organizations that could lead to mutually beneficial relationships

April Minutes

Jim made a motion to approve the April meeting minutes. The motion was seconded and approved.

Development, Fundraising & Investing Strategies

Jane reported that the second half of the $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation for the Business Development Manager will be received in June. She also reported that ONA is to receive additional funding from the Gannett Foundation to support ONA Camps, which are lined p from now into next year – including an ONA Camp in Phoenix, hosted in conjunction with the Society of Professional Journalists, and ONA Camps at the NABJ and UNITY conferences.

Upcoming financial projects

Online Journalism Awards revamp

Jane said the organization is currently seeking out new partners and potential funding or grant opportunities to increase the profile and grow the Online Journalism Awards. She reported that entries continue to grow, while those of some other prestigious journalism contests are down.

Legal Affairs

Jane said the organization is looking into ways to raise funding to help bolster and expand the legal affairs work being done, including finding more resources to investigate and research policy and legal issues, as well as to offer webinars for members.

ONA Local

Jane reported that ONA Local groups are growing by leaps and bounds. Currently, ONA offers $400 to each group to start up and then the groups manage their own budgets from there. Most groups do not charge for their events. Local groups in New York and Washington, DC charge minimal fees to pay expenses.

Donation system

Jane mentioned that development consultant Julia DiLaura is working on a fundraising campaign and online support pages to facilitate more donations through the website.

MJ Bear Fellowship

Jane reported that ONA is opening the application process for selection of the next group of MJ Bear Fellows and will be initiating a new campaign to raise additional funds.


Jody Brannon reported that she, Jon Hart and Blake Carpenter (MJ Bear’s nephew) considered various potential investment advisers, including Fidelity, Vanguard and Merrill Lynch, to invest the MJ Bear Fund assets. The group recommended that the money be invested in a diversified portfolio of funds offered through Merrill Lynch. Jim moved to select Merrill Lynch as the adviser and to authorize investment in a diversified portfolio of funds. The motion was seconded and approved.

Audit & Financials

Scott Rosenberg, MBAF-ERE, and Carolyn Skinner, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, joined by phone and reviewed the audit and financial statement.. Scott reported that the audit had gone very smoothly.

Executive Session -12 p.m. PST

Membership Initiatives

Robert Hernandez presented information from the membership committee which has been holding calls monthly to determine how to survey members to try to learn what motivates them to join the organization. He said the committee is collecting the names of members to serve on a non-board advisory committee and will create a survey to make recommendations to improve member benefits.

He mentioned an early, small informal survey from his “Learn Code for Journalism With Me” project that included results citing why members had/hadn’t joined ONA. They included:

  • 10 said they can’t afford it
  • 14 wanted to, but haven’t
  • 6 said no compelling reason to join
  • 36 said no without giving a reason
  • 13 didn’t know of ONA
  • 21 said yes and were supportive


Jody presented a report on the activities of the ONA Education committee. She reported that the Facebook group has increased interest in ONA on many college campuses. She reported that the Education committee has a very active discussion going on regularly, too. he said they’re working on the forthcoming ONA Topics project using many education leaders from around the country, including:

  • Ethics: David Craig, Oklahoma
  • Online Video/MM Storytelling: Curt Chandler, Penn State
  • Recent Research: Sue Robinson, Wisconsin, Madison
  • Social Media Teaching: Heather Starr Fiedler, Point Park
  • E-Learning: Howard Finberg, Poynter
  • CMS/tools: Staci Baird, Stanford
  • Entrepreneurial Journalism: Michael Humphrey, Colorado State
  • Diversity: Yvonne Latty, NYU
  • Transitioning & Networked Journalism: Donica Mensing, Nevada-Reno
  • Magazines: Thom Lieb, Maryland
  • Mobile: Adam Glenn, CUNY
  • Employment: Jody Brannon


International Committee Chair Mario Tedeschini-Lalli and Board Liaison Katie King presented a history of the organization’s growth and international involvement. They are looking to expand and build more partnerships, such as ONA’s collaboration with the International Journalism Festival held in Perugia, Italy, this spring. Members of the International Committee will also be representing ONA at upcoming events, such as the News Summit 2012 in Paris. The committee is discussing holding a spring 2013 regional conference in London.

Website metrics

Sean updated the group on the website metrics and said that recently there has been a surge of interest in the ONA12 Student Newsroom information. He said over the past year the MJ Bear Fellow blog entries, the AP-Google scholarship announcements and the analysis of SOPA were some of the most popular features on the site.

Social Media

Jen Mizgata discussed the current state of social media for ONA and how social media are serving the dual role of broadcasting initiatives and news, while also positioning NA as a thought leader in the industry and capturing that conversation. She said Twitter is the strongest network for ONA, especially for driving traffic to journalists.org. Traffic from Facebook is lower. The ONA Issues Tumblr also does very well and draws the interest of many prominent organizations – including Tumblr’s News Section multiple times – but Tumblr’s analytics need to be improved to get better data. She also mentioned that publicizing the AP-Google scholarship announcement with the newsroom format and materials helped spike all metrics.

Business strategy

Branden Smith gave an overview of plans for business development, including finding new product and sponsor opportunities, establishing relationships with accelerators and other tech incubators, promoting ONA at other conferences with partners, building more year-round revenue streams and setting monetization priorities for the ONA site, all to better serve members.

Online Journalism Awards

Online Journalism Awards chair Josh Hatch said the new award categories are ready to roll and OJA entries will be open soon. He said the International Federation of Journalists will translate entries into several languages to allow for more non-English entries.

He also directed the board to check out the new award archive, a listing of all awards for the past 12 years, which is now live on the website at Journalists.org/awards. Links to all the past award winners, finalists and the projects are all listed, as well as the past judges.


Pam Maples, Anthony Moor and Burt Herman, 0NA12 conference co-chairs, and Jane updated the board on their progress, including the current state of the labor dispute with the Hyatt. The programming schedule will be built into four tracks to take advantage of all the submissions from the Session Selector:

  • Storytelling – Telling better stories with data, videos, design
  • Wild West – Cool, bleeding-edge, forthcoming stuff Community – Social media and readership
  • Backstory – Strategy, executive, “big picture” view, analytics

Meeting adjourned for the day – 5 p.m. PST

Saturday, May 12

In attendance:

  • Jim Brady, President
  • Meredith Artley, Vice President
  • Jody Brannon, Treasurer
  • Will Sullivan, Secretary (on conference call)
  • Joshua Hatch (on conference call)
  • Robert Hernandez
  • John Keefe
  • Christine Montgomery
  • Cory Haik
  • Mario Tedeschini-Lalli
  • Burt Herman
  • Katie King
  • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
  • Sean Connolly, Digital Manager
  • Jeanne Brooks, Director of Innovation and Community Engagement
  • Jennifer Mizgata, Communications and Social Media Manager
  • Branden Smith, Senior Business Development ManagerJon Hart, General Counsel, Dow Lohnes PLLC


  • Amy Webb
  • Rob King
  • Juana Summers

Call to order, 8:50 a.m. PST

Jane started off the meeting by inviting the board to discuss and prioritize the “Big Ideas” for the future of the organization that the board had discussed during the Friday session of the board meeting. The group reviewed the list of topics, discussed them, and then board members voted for their top priorities.

Priorities with the most votes:

  • Business strategy
  • Tools & training
  • Journalism ethics and skills
  • Startup accelerator

After these four categories were established, the group discussed different ways to go about tackling each.


Jane said that she needs to know who is going to run for re-election to the board for the 2013-14 seats so that she can organize the election process. Seven members are in the middle of their terms, eight are in the second year of their current two-year terms. The board decided to reserve one position for a potential diversity appointment should the elected board members not represent the membership’s diversity of ethnicity, medium, skillset, geography, sex, etc. The board discussed strategies for increasing participation in elections and educating the members about the board members running. Action items to help drive voting and awareness during the ONA conference in eptember included:

  • Prominent mention in Jane’s welcome, introducing the board and encoraging members to vote
  • Prominent placement in the program to get member’s attention
  • Changing the name of the “ONA Board Meet and Greet” to bring more people into the event
  • Change the structure of the “ONA Board Meet and Greet” to make it more of a conversation about digital issues
  • Increase awareness through social media

Election schedule:

  • June 15: call for nominations
  • July 12: close the nominations August 13: notification of vetted candidates
  • August 14: announcement of the slate
  • September 21: voting through October

Legal affairs committee

Legal Chair Josh Hatch updated the group on the Legal Affairs Committee’s activities, including the recent signing of a letter prepared by the Sunshine in Government Initiative complaining about proposed changes to Department of Labor policies. The CISPA legislation was discussed. The committee will continue to monitor the issue.

Note: January Board meeting: Thursday and Friday, Jan. 24-25, 2013