Minutes – Nov. 8, 2013

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

  • Meredith Artley
  • Jim Brady
  • Jody Brannon
  • Josh Hatch
  • Burt Herman
  • Robert Hernandez
  • John Keefe
  • Mandy Jenkins
  • Greg Linch
  • Christine Montgomery
  • Juana Summers
  • Mario Tedeschini-Lalli
  • Benet Wilson


  • Richard Hernandez
  • Jim Roberts

Staff on the call:

  • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
  • Jeanne Brooks, Digital Director
  • Irving Washington, Director of Operations
  • Jessica Strelitz, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships & Sales

Meeting called to order at 1:05 p.m.

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes for the September board call. (There was no call in October because of the annual conference in Atlanta.)

Board Election, Membership and Meetings

Jane gave an update on the 2014 elections and our newly elected board members. This year, the 438 voters, representing 18.28 percent of ONA’s total membership of 2,109, cast 1,908 votes. All are professional members:

  • Jim Brady, editor in chief, Digital First Media: 11 percent, 215 votes (incumbent).
  • Jennifer Preston, staff writer/social media beat, The New York Times: 11 percent, 203 votes
  • Kim Bui, interim mobile product manager, Southern California Public Radio: 10 percent, 191 votes
  • David Cohn, director of content, Circa, 9.5 percent, 182 votes
  • Eric Carvin, social media editor, Associated Press. 9 percent , 173 votes
  • Meredith Artley, managing editor and VP, CNN Digital. 8.75 percent, 167 votes (incumbent)

Jim emphasized the downside of the election was losing Burt Herman from the Board and thanked him for his hard work. Jane expressed gratitude that Burt will continue to serve on ONA’s Website Committee.

Jane said the four new Board members will participate in an orientation call before the January Board meeting in Washington DC.  Jim explained that the Executive Committee discussed the pros and cons of having a one- or two-day meeting and decided to try a one-day meeting, with dinner the night before. Mandy mentioned committees might meet before or after, perhaps inviting the new members, Thursday afternoon before dinner.

Conference Review

Jane provided an update on the conference and thanked the Board members who provided feedback to improve the 2014 conference. She said about 95 percent of the overall membership feedback was “highly favorable.” The organization also largely hit goals for attendance and revenue and that next week’s call with the accountants would provide more details. Jane praised Irving for his careful watch of pre- and mid-conference expenses and tracking of registration and sponsorship revenue.

Jody suggested that the organization figure out ways to let the membership know about the exorbitant expenses charged by hotels for food and drink.

Irving is creating a chart chronicling growth of conference revenue over five years for the January Board meeting. Registration revenue has doubled since 2009. Some partners have already committed to ONA14 in Chicago. Jim thanked CNN for the post-Online Journalism Awards banquet party, and Meredith for her role in it, and congratulated Jane and the staff for their hard work.

Jane also publicly commended Digital Director Jeanne Brooks, who departs Dec. 13, noting how integral she was to both the conference success and much of ONA’s growth. With Jeanne’s departure, Jen will take over directing ONA Local and ONACamps, with Jane’s help.

Jane also congratulated Jess for her work on securing sponsorships although she’s only been in her role for four months. Among the exhibitors, sponsors and Midway participants Jess helped pull in were 16 new companies. Overall,  more than 70 paying organizations participated. Jess said Midway participants and sponsors were happy with the conference and pleased with the flow to their booths or stations. She is already working on year-round development ideas, with eight meetings set up in New York.

ONA Projects

Jane discussed ONA’s role in administering the new Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, to be launched Dec. 2. The fund is currently at $850,000 and is expected to grow to $1 million.

Jane and Mario addressed ONA’s level of participation in the Global Editors Network and the International Journalism Festival (IJF). Currently the IJF is engaged in a crowd-source funding campaign in order to hold its conference in 2014.


Digital Newsgathering Working Group and Ethics. Jane said this initiative is going well, with Tom Kent and Eric Carvin of the Associated Press leading, and will be discussed at the January meeting. Jeanne said there have been a lot of suggestions on how to build out journalists.org and facilitate our initiatives.

For Journalism. Jane said two of these data training courses, which are free to ONA members, have not yet launched and she will check on the new release date.

Website Development. An advisory group, including Burt Herman, John Keefe and Robert Hernandez, with help from Greg Linch, Chrys Wu and Jeremy Bowers, will help staff decide how to proceed with a WordPress/Drupal development and timeline for journalists.org. Robert suggested Greg formally join the committee, since John and Burt will no longer be on the Board as of Jan. 1.

Legal Committee. Josh Hatch explained that our aggressive legal efforts this year have exceeded our budget so we will be cutting back participation in legal briefs for the rest of the year.

Call ended at 2:02 p.m. ET.

The next call will be Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.