Minutes – Sept. 13, 2013

Online News Association Board of Directors Meeting

In attendance:

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


  • Jim Brady
  • Richard Hernandez

Staff on the Call:

  • Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
  • Jeanne Brooks, Digital Director
  • Irving Washington, Director of Operations
  • Jessica Strelitz, Director of Development
  • Jen Mizgata, Social Media and Communications Manager

The Board was called to order at 1:04 p.m.

Old Business

The board unanimously approved the minutes for the July call (no call was held during August).

Board of Director Nominations

Jane gave an update on the number of Board candidates whose forms are properly submitted ahead of tonight’s deadline. There will be six open seats (one by appointment, to address our financial/fundraising needs, and five open seats, with three incumbents — Jim Brady, Meredith Artley and Burt Herman). Christine Montgomery suggested the board might want to form a committee to identify board prospects year round. Jane said the candidates will be evaluated based on the criteria posted online and those eligible will have one month to campaign before voting opens at Oct. 17, with voting ending Nov. 1.

Finances, Development and Partnerships

Jane announced that ONA will administer the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, to be announced during the Atlanta conference. The supporting foundations, funding up to $1 million, will be the Knight Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Robert McCormick Foundation, and the Democracy Fund. One other foundation is expected to join next year. ONA will receive $100,000 to administer the fund, plus $25,000 for marketing and technical assistance, over two years.

The AP-Google Scholarship program will be winding down for 2014-15. One current student scholar did not need all of the funds from the scholarship, so one more scholarship can be given next year. Jane emphasized that officials from AP and Google were pleased with the program and ONA’s part in administering it.

Jane discussed the success of the Social Media Workshop in Boston, supported by a grant from the McCormick Foundation, and aided by former board member Teresa Hanafin and her colleagues at the Boston Globe. Some of the takeaways will be shared at the Atlanta conference. Based on discussions and brainstorming from the industry leaders at the event, Jen is collecting feedback to see if the event can turn into a template of sorts and to foster continued discussion and actions. Robert Hernandez, who attended, said he was pleased with takeaways and measures taken to amplify them to the larger industry and our membership.

Jane is continuing to research future support for the Online Journalism Awards since the partnership with the University of Miami will expire at the end of the year. Josh explained that judging costs are greatly reduced because, for the second year in a row, judges met online instead of in person. Josh, Jody and Jane will get together to discuss universities to approach for future partnership.

Jess offered an update for conference income from sponsorships, the Midway and exhibitors. She said we were at 94 percent of our goal a month ahead of the conference. She is also working on plans to bolster ONA’s online career site to create a robust job board and revenue. To date, postings by members have been free; going forward postings likely will be tied to a sliding scale, based on an organization’s size.


Irving gave an update on registrants, hotel rooms, award dinner ticket sales, etc. The Atlanta Marriott Marquis is sold out and we are on track to exceed last year’s attendance of 1,400. Total attendance may exceed 1,500. The program is nearly complete.


Legal Affairs: Josh and General Counsel Jon Hart discussed ONA’s role in supporting the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987), aka the federal shield law, along with many major journalism organizations. Jon will wait to hear about progress in the House and then discuss with the Legal Committee. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Diane Feinstein stated that 71 organizations endorsed the bill, and specified five, starting with ONA. Chair Josh Hatch summarized five other actions the committee engaged in during the month, directing board members to the website.

Online Journalism Awards: Chair Josh Hatch updated the board on the number of submissions, noting that we received more non-English entries than last year. He also reviewed the nominations for the Rich Jaroslovsky Award and welcomed other suggestions.

Education/Students: Greg said that selected ONA student members posted blogs on journalists.org summarizing summer internship experiences.

Josh reminded members to make their 2013 donation pledges.

Jane reminded the board that the next call will be Friday Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. ET.

The call ended at 2:30 p.m. ET.