For your privacy: How we handle attendee information

We love our sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t have an opening night reception, fun events like sunrise yoga on the terrace or our incredible Student Newsroom, a program that for years has supported some of the best emerging talent in journalism.

That said, attendees have made it clear from the outset that they care about privacy and how the personal information we are privy to is handled. We get questions about this every year, and for ONA16 and beyond, we’re addressing it directly.

Privacy Policy

First, here is our Privacy Policy. It’s fairly standard, the highlights being that we share general numbers — without other identifiers — in the aggregate (e.g., x% of attendees have decision-making power, “n” attendees who have food allergies, etc.) with staff, board members, sponsors, catering services or others who need to know that information to serve you best. We also track analytics to know what generates attention on the site, which helps us give a more prominent position to popular posts and areas of the website. And one noteworthy point: Entrants to the Online Journalism Awards may have entry details from their submissions shared with those who judge and fund specific awards.

Conference attendee lists and groups

One of the most heavily requested documents from attendees and sponsors alike is an attendee list. That list is created in both .pdf and .csv (spreadsheet) format, and contains: first name, last name, title, organization and Twitter handle, if provided. We strip it of email and any other direct contact information. We share this three times:

  • a preliminary list is shared with sponsors several weeks before the annual conference
  • an updated list is shared both with sponsors and attendees one week before the event
  • a final list is available for anyone who completes our post-conference survey, sent after the event ends

We also compile an attendee Twitter list, so if you’ve provided your Twitter handle, people can find you there. We host an ONA16 Facebook group for attendees, which is technically private, but we allow most people to join unless they spam the group with ads or we have reason to think they might.

Other ways you may be contacted

One very important note: We do not sell attendee information and we work to keep your personal information secure.

Once in awhile, companies — sponsors and otherwise — will send attendees emails promoting products, inviting attendees to events or otherwise reaching out. This sometimes causes confusion, because the reasonable assumption is that we’ve provided companies with this information.

Organizations may find you using a few methods:

  • Some companies have long-standing databases, and when they input your name, your email address may be stored from another event or contact with the company. From what we can discern, this is the most common method.
  • If your organization uses a standard email format, like, it’s pretty easy to figure out your work email.
  • Members of ONA can log into our member center and look up other members of ONA, which includes the email you have in your ONA member profile. If this is your personal email, and you don’t wish other members to contact you this way, please consider updating your member profile to display your preferred email.

If we do see contact with our community that even borders on inappropriate, we try to address it directly with the individual, company or organization. They are encouraged to avoid unsolicited communication, and to follow all CAN-SPAM rules.

Finally, it’s worth noting that attendees and sponsors both increasingly ask us for more mechanisms to connect and communicate. We’ve had requests for:

  • Slack channels
  • in-app chat systems for registered attendees to message one another
  • QR codes on badges to scan and collect contact details

If these or another system would be something you’d like to see, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please contact us at