Versha is a candidate for the 2020-21 ONA Board of Directors election
Versha Sharma is the Managing Editor and Senior Correspondent at NowThis, where she’s been working since 2014. Versha was hired as a senior editorial producer in the early days of social video becoming a trend, and was tasked with shaping and defining the editorial voice for NowThis. From there, she was promoted to managing editor, managed the company’s emerging platforms strategy and oversaw 2016 Election coverage. She conducted an interview with President Obama at a critical moment in the election cycle.
As NowThis’s senior correspondent, she’s also filed dispatches on immigration from the U.S.-Mexico border, reported from mass protests in St. Louis, and traveled to Moscow, Russia for the show she hosts and produces, The Russia Desk. Versha won an Edward R. Murrow award with producer Melissa Krasovsky and the NowThis Reports team for a short documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Versha has long been an enthusiastic voice for the most innovative models in digital journalism. Prior to NowThis, she worked as a reporter and editor for Vocativ, where she managed a team of international reporters. She covered the 2012 presidential election for MSNBC. Versha got her start in digital journalism at Talking Points Memo.
Candidate Lightning Talk
Describe why ONA members should vote for you. What skills you would bring to the ONA Board?
I am both enthusiastic and realistic about the current and future state of our industry. I’m a digital native with experience in investigative reporting, social video, distributed content, and newsroom leadership and management. I believe these skills, and my experience at multiple digital media startups, bring valued expertise outside of legacy media to the ONA Board.
I am a strong advocate for women of color in the industry and will consider my life’s work done when newsroom leadership and management actually reflects the audiences we serve. I care deeply about reporting on under-covered and vulnerable communities, elevating the voices of the underrepresented, and making sure our collective journalism reflects an honest picture of society—not just of elites or the establishment.
I’ve been an active member of ONA for many years now, and decided to run for the board in 2017 after participating in the ONA Women’s Leadership Accelerator. I’ve seen firsthand the incredible and yes, life-changing impact that ONA can have on people, especially people who wouldn’t normally be given a first glance or chance. It’s what happens when we choose to invest in them (and each other). To that end, I’ve participated in the ONA and ProPublica diversity mentorship program and have also been a coach via digitalwomenleaders.com, another amazing initiative that grew out of the Women’s Leadership cohort.
In my first term on the ONA board, I was part of the organizing committee for the annual conference, a judge for the Online Journalism Awards, and a member of the legal affairs and ethics committee. In addition to everyday reporting and accuracy, I’m deeply interested in and passionate about emerging ethics challenges: how news organizations can partner with tech platforms, what journalists are responsible for when freedom of the press and speech are under attack, and how we bring the truth into focus amid the noise of disinformation and social media. These are all challenges I’ve brought up in board meetings and at conferences, and will continue to do so as we enter 2020—another crucial year for democracy and journalism, and not just in the United States. I often travel internationally and have spoken at conferences in places like the UK, Russia and Kazakhstan. I also love learning from the journalists and communities there, and bringing back their insight.
I hope to be elected to a second term on the ONA Board to continue this work, and continue strategic planning that we’ve kicked into high gear in the last two years—for the future health of the organization and the industry at large. I’m not arrogant enough to think we can solve all of the industry’s problems at one conference or in one board meeting, but I have yet to find a more committed group of journalists and innovators than the ones in ONA. It would be my honor to continue serving this organization.
Thank you for your time and consideration. When I’m not being super earnest about journalism, find me to talk about my other passion, superhero movies.