Get ready for the ONA16 Unconference!

Let’s get ready to uncon!

Every year, some of the smartest people in digital journalism gather at the Online News Association’s annual conference.

And every year since 2009, we have given those people the chance to take the conference into their own hands with the unconference.

So, what IS the unconference? Easy: Attendees get the chance to pitch what they think should be a part of this year’s discussion. Maybe we’ll sit in a circle and talk about what we love besides journalism. Maybe we’ll consider how design thinking applies to our daily tasks. Maybe we’ll just get to meet the people we follow on Twitter.

That’s the beauty of the unconference: It can be anything we want it to be.

So how does it work? You (yes, you) can start pitching your session ideas on Thursday, Aug. 18 on our Tumblr site. Keep the pitches coming through the first day of the conference, Thursday, Sept. 15. We’ll post all the pitches we receive on this site.

On Friday, Sept. 16, you’ll see Team Uncon roaming the conference corridors, asking you to vote (please vote!). We’ll then tally the votes on Friday night and announce which sessions will be included on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Come Saturday, if your session was selected, you’re on! You’ll have one of the following time slots:

  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (two sessions)
  • 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (three sessions)

A couple caveats: The opportunity to lead a session is intended for people who are already attending the conference. They’re also meant to be about journalism, not a platform for companies to sell their products.

Beyond that, the rules are up to you. Do you want to host a workshop? Do you want to put together your dream panel? Do you want to take a break and not think about “the future of journalism” for an hour? Let’s do it. Let’s uncon.

Any questions? Contact us at

Happy brainstorming!

Get Started

Estepa_Jess_120Jessica Estepa is a Senior Digital Producer at National Geographic Partners. She has been involved with ONA since 2009, starting with the student newsroom and now as the team captain of the unconference track for the past six years and as an organizer of the #ONADC chapter. A recovering congressional and federal government reporter, she likes waffles and news.