Getting to know Denver



Denver was considered flyover country for years — the gateway to the vast and rugged Rocky Mountains. In the last decade, its profile as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship has risen, luring a flood of new residents, especially young people who seek the city’s robust job opportunities and access to outdoor recreation such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing and cycling.
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ONA16 resources: videos, sessions, live blogs, award winners and more

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Online News Association's annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Denver on September 17, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Online News Association)

Photo by Anya Semenoff

Over 2,100 journalists traveled to Denver in September for the Online News Association Conference (ONA16) to discuss the most exciting trends in digital journalism and to honor the great work of colleagues around the world.

We’ve pulled together a range of resources here so that you can level up your reporting, be inspired by excellent projects and share takeaways with your newsroom. Plus, we’ve got lots of ways you can stay connected throughout the year.

For ONA, this was a big year: Saying goodbye to Executive Director Jane McDonnell after her leadership of the organization for eight years, and welcoming Irving Washington as he steps up from his role as Deputy Director into the Executive Director position. We also announced Journalism 360, a new partnership between ONA, Google News Lab and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that will help newsrooms experiment with and advance the field of immersive storytelling, and nearly $1 million in new support from the five funders of the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. With these new opportunities and changes at ONA, we look forward to doing what we do best — identifying and supporting great digital journalism.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the highlights from ONA16, from keynote videos to great reporting.

Sessions: videos, social curation, audio, slides

  • We’ve posted full videos from many ONA16 sessions, when available. Each session has its own page, accessible through the ONA16 schedule, featuring embedded video, live blog archives and resources from presenters. You can also watch the session videos on YouTube.
  • Bonus: Our video team produced 30 short takeaway videos.
  • The ONA16 Social Team curated live coverage of conference sessions. Their updates are embedded on the session pages, which you can access via the ONA16 schedule.
  • Slides and takeaways from presenters, when available, have been added to individual session pages.
  • Audio recordings of sessions, when available, are located on individual session pages and on Soundcloud.

Table Talks

We brought back the popular Table Talks this year, where expert speakers sat down with attendees to spark one-on-one conversations on major issues and big ideas, touching on everything from the future of podcasting to product management in the newsroom. See the notes from Table Talks, separated by subject area and discussions.

Great reporting from the Student Newsroom

Check out the comprehensive coverage by the 20 hand-picked journalists in the ONA16 Student Newsroom, sponsored by Google. Some of our favorite highlights include advice on how to banish “if only” from your newsroom, coverage on Amy Webb’s top tech trends, a video on the concerns of young journalists today and the app for attendees to see how connected they were to other people at the conference. Plus, check out the excellent work by our third class of HBCU Fellows, whose work was supported by the Knight Foundation. They even give you a behind-the-scenes look at the visual experience at ONA16.

Some great posts on ONA16

#ONA16 on Social Media

  • There were over 30,000 tweets on the main conference hashtag #ONA16, not to mention thousands more on individual hashtags for sessions! ONA16 was a top national trend on Twitter in the United States Wednesday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 19 and a top worldwide trend on Thursday and Sunday. Plus, the keynote conversation, Do We Need A Bechel Test for News?, was featured as a Twitter moment.
  • Meta: We used Facebook Live to broadcast our Opening Keynote on Facebook’s relationship with the media. Watch Fidji Simo, Facebook’s Director of Product, and Samantha Barry, CNN’s Senior Director of Social News, discuss how Facebook impacts news outlets both large and small.
  • Check out more than 1,200 Instagram photos from ONA16 (and follow Online_News while you’re there to get updates from us).

Celebrating the best in digital journalism: 2016 Online Journalism Awards

Photos, gifs and more fun stuff

Get involved with ONA

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 16: Online News Association's annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Denver on September 16, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Online News Association

Photo by Anya Semenoff

  • Looking to connect with journalists in your community after the conference? We firmly believe local journalists are leading the charge in innovating and are invested in supporting work in their communities. Connect with an ONA Local group near you or let us know if you’re interested in starting one. You can also connect with the ONA community through Slack — sign up to get your invitation.
  • Interested in VR, AR and immersive storytelling? Get involved with Journalism 360, a new project from ONA, Google News Lab and the Knight Foundation.
  • We’re looking for women who are pushing innovation in digital media for the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, a tuition-free, week-long intensive training. ONA’s Accelerator will be held Feb. 5-10, 2017, at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Apply by Nov. 15.
  • Are you a journalism educator or student? Connect with over 1,200 people passionate about journalism education and interesting projects in the ONA Educators Facebook group.
  • Based internationally? We were thrilled to have so many global attendees at ONA16. Keep the conversation going with other digital journalists in the ONA International Facebook group.
  • Want to provide guidance for your newsroom or classroom on ethical issues? Our Build Your Own Ethics Code is designed for you to customize your codes on pressing digital media issues

Missed a meeting? Need a new tool?

Nearly 100 digital media and media-tech firms and educators supported ONA16 in Denver and we are so grateful to them all. If you’re looking for dynamic partners in the software, design, commenting, data viz, video, content services, advertising, social, research and hardware space — or seeking a new professional or educational opportunity — be sure to check out the offerings from ONA’s sponsors, exhibitors, supporters and Midway participants from around the world.

Save the date for ONA17

We’re coming back to the East Coast in 2017! Join us Oct. 5-7, 2017, at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park for ONA17.

Video from the ONA16 keynotes and more resources

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 16: Online News Association's annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Denver on September 16, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Online News Association

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 16: Online News Association’s annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Denver on September 16, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Online News Association

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the 2016 Online News Association Conference in Denver — in person, on social or via our live streams and blogs. We’ve been hearing wonderful feedback about the conference and are hard at work getting our final set of resources to you.
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ONA Challenge Fund to ‘hack’ journalism education gets new $985,000 boost

challenge-fund-featured-image-logos-2DENVER — Sept. 15, 2016 — To help journalism educators better prepare students to meet 21st century information needs, five major foundations today announced nearly $1 million in support to the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. The micro-grant contest, which encourages universities to create teams to experiment with new ways of providing news and information, is run by the Online News Association (ONA), the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.

Announced today at ONA’s 2016 conference, the funding will provide an additional two years of support for the challenge, which was launched in 2013 by a funder collaborative that includes the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the Democracy Fund; Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation; the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation. All five foundations have renewed their support for this round of funding, totaling $985,000.
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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.
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ONA16 keynote: Tackling inclusivity in newsrooms

For our first announced keynote at ONA16, we continue to share success stories for newsrooms looking to improve inclusivity in terms of staff, sources and storytelling. In “Do We Need a Bechdel Test for News? How Inclusiveness and Credibility Can Expand Coverage,” our outstanding experts will discuss how their organizations have developed concrete goals, set transparency standards and built partnerships to better reflect their communities in their coverage.

As news coverage increasingly focuses on race, immigration and LGBT issues, it’s vital to improve the diversity and perspective of staff, sources and expert commentators.

This session is a natural segue from previous conversations showcasing women leaders and innovators at ONA14 — discussions that helped launch the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, and ONA’s next endeavor, the Women’s Leadership Accelerator. At ONA15, we held a keynote conversation focused on women who are directly confronting online harassment.

As a next step at ONA16, our panelists will candidly explore short- and long-term strategies and resources to make journalism more accurate and insightful. They’ll share case studies, discuss how they developed their own unique strategies and how their approaches have fueled audience growth in reach and impact.

The panelists for this session, held Friday, Sept. 16, will be:

IMG_9790.jpgVanessa K. De Luca
, Editor in Chief, ESSENCE Magazine

Vanessa is Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE magazine, the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women. As the brand’s editorial leader, she oversees the content and vision of the core magazine as well as, the daily online destination for African-American women.

Lisa_Stone_sqLisa Stone, Digital Media Strategist and Co-Founder of BlogHer

Lisa is an entrepreneur and digital media strategist with 18 years of experience developing scale consumer communities via storytelling, quality conversation and analytics. Most recently, Lisa was CEO and Co-founder of BlogHer Inc., where she grew an idea for a grassroots conference into a leading start-up reaching 100+ million women each month, $30 million in annual revenues and a proprietary technology platform publishing content creators.

Jose_Antonio_Vargas_sqJose Antonio Vargas, Founder and Editor, and Founder,

Jose is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker and media publisher whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder and CEO of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America; and the founder, CEO and Editor of #EmergingUS, a digital platform that lives at the intersection of race, immigration and identity in a multicultural America.

Alisa_Miller_sqAlisa Miller, CEO – PRI and Across Women’s Lives

Alisa is a media and technology leader who advocates for technological innovation to help people live better lives. She has led PRI’s transformation from creator and distributor of radio programming to rapidly-growing multi-platform digital media organization offering audio, journalism and engagement leadership that empowers people to act.

The ONA16 Schedule is here!

We’ve officially announced our initial conference program for ONA16 in Denver. You can see a list of our program topics and conference speakers — a list that will continue to expand through the end of June.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.19.59 AM

Planning the schedule for our annual conference is one of the highlights of the year for our team, and we hope ONA16 continues to uphold the quality and diversity we aim for in our educational programming. We love working with journalists around the world to talk about the issues that are at the forefront of their work and finding creative ways to highlight interesting conversations for our attendees.

This year, you’ll hear more discussions related to the most interesting trends in news gathering, audience engagement, education, mobile tools, revenue, audio/video, work flow and building your career.

We also wanted to highlight a few key areas of the program that are being improved or expanded to better serve our growing ONA community.

Expanded Broadcast Offerings

This year, we are making an intentional effort to expand and diversify our offerings for broadcast journalists, particularly those working on TV news. Demand for web video and audio is increasing exponentially, and broadcast journalists have told us they are looking to share ideas and best practices for workflows, tools and live streaming, all of which will be included at ONA16. Stay tuned for more speakers and sessions to be announced focused on broadcast in the coming weeks.

Augmented, Virtual and 360 Realities

The number of news organizations investing in 360 video and virtual reality grew dramatically over the past year, so at ONA16 we’re hosting more discussions around this evolving medium. We’ve scheduled high-level conversations around when to employ VR as a storytelling tool, and address head-on the ethical questions surfacing from these new formats. We’re also hosting four technical conversations for practitioners that will explore the emerging tools and techniques in this rapidly changing space.

Improved Table Talks

Last year, we introduced Table Talks, a chance to take a deeper conversational dive into dozens of challenges affecting journalists working in digital media. They were a huge success, earning a spot in the five highest-rated sessions at ONA15. That said, we received a lot of constructive ideas for improving and refining the process, and we’ve taken those to heart. We’re hoping these will continue to be a highlight of our conference.

More to come!

The schedule announced today is only about 70 percent of our full planned conference, just enough to give you a sense of what’s in store before early-bird registration expires on June 2. Be sure to check back frequently through early July to see additional sessions, presenters, keynote conversations and a few surprises that will populate our schedule each week.

Getting to know our Code of Conduct for ONA16

As we open registration for ONA16, we wanted to quickly share an exciting new element for our conference: a Code of Conduct for this and future events.

Thankfully, our community is positive, friendly and supportive of one another — it’s what makes our events such a draw each year. That said, we’ve been inspired by SRCCON, O’Reilly Media and other event organizers who have made explicit their goals for holding harassment-free events, and specify the behavior they deem inappropriate.

ONA leadership and staff are committed to providing a welcoming environment for people from as many diverse backgrounds as possible. We expect our staff, sponsors, presenters and attendees to create and maintain a respectful environment for people of all backgrounds at our events.

To that end, we’ve created our Code of Conduct to clearly state these expectations. We tested the code at our ONA London 2016: Audience Engagement event and received enthusiastic support from presenters and attendees alike. We hope it will be equally welcome this year in Denver.

The code is adapted for the ONA community from open-source codes and policies, which we cite. We consulted more than a dozen other codes of conduct and held conversations with a number of peer organizations and members of the ONA community.

If you have questions about the code, please feel free to contact Digital Director Trevor Knoblich or Senior Communications Manager Jennifer Mizgata.

ONA16 Suggestion Box: I Submitted My Pitch. Now What?

This is the third in a three-part series of posts on our Suggestion Box — your opportunity to pitch session ideas and presenters for ONA16. Check out part 1 to find out what makes for a great pitch, and part 2 to see what kinds of conversations we hope to host this year

Our Suggestion Box, which closes March 31, is your opportunity to pitch ideas to ONA to ensure we cover the most important trends and topics in digital journalism. It also represents the best opportunity to present at ONA16, as most of our sessions are selected through this process.

We’re often asked what the process is for selecting sessions for our annual conference. If you’re interested to know what happens to the hundreds of ideas we receive, read on!

Step 1: Read Every Idea and Nominate The Best


Ideas come to us from staff, ONA Board members, our Program Team, and our Suggestion Box. The Program Team — a diverse, volunteer group of professionals and students — reviews each and every idea. We had nearly 400 ideas last year, so this is not an easy task!

The group is looking for the best and most innovative ideas and presenters to help move digital journalism forward. They review the proposals based on the criteria outlined here. We ask the Program Team to come up with a “short list” of sessions. In the end, this list usually accounts for roughly two-thirds of our final conference programming.

Step 2: Create a Draft Program


Once the Program Team completes its review, ONA staff go through the list of recommended sessions and speakers and begin selecting ideas. We give the pitches a deeper look for quality and speaker diversity. We sometimes combine sessions on similar issues or ask submitters to add another presenter to their roster.

By the end of May, the conference schedule is 80 percent complete. We’ll leave a few slots for breaking news, emerging issues and any gaps identified by a final review committee.

Step 3: Ask Some Experts: What Are We Missing?

Early June

In the final stage, a Review Team gives the proposed schedule a fresh look and identifies any overlooked topics or speakers. Usually, the committee approves the proposed schedule, with suggested tweaks to presenters for five or six sessions, and proposes new ideas for two to three more sessions.

Step 4: Confirm Speakers and Post Initial Conference Schedule

Mid June

Assuming the Review Team’s approval, we confirm speaker availability and post as much scheduling information as we can to the conference website. A few more sessions may still be added before the schedule is finalized, but we are no longer looking for submissions on speakers or topics. We do add sessions around breaking topical news as deemed critical by ONA staff.

Step 5: Final Conference Schedule


This is when we post the final schedule of core programming. We may still have a surprise or two, based on confirming a great keynote speaker or an urgent breaking news issue. The Midway, our collaborative, interactive forum, also gets programmed at this point. But by this time we’re more or less finished, and looking forward to conversations with all of you at ONA16!

ONA16 Suggestion Box: What Topics Will We Discuss at ONA16?

This is the second in a three-part series of posts on our Suggestion Box — your opportunity to pitch session ideas and presenters for ONA16. Check out part 1 to find out what makes for a great pitch. Part 3 describes what happens to pitches once they are received.

Our Suggestion Box, which closes March 31, is your opportunity to pitch ideas to ONA to ensure we cover the most important trends and topics in digital journalism. It also represents the best opportunity to present at ONA16, as most of our sessions are selected through this process.

We’re often asked, “What will you talk about at ONA16?” Even in three days of wall-to-wall programming, there’s no shortage of issues to cover.

While we don’t have formal conference themes, we do recognize that certain issues are timely and likely will warrant specific consideration in our conversations this year.

We’ll be looking to make sure these topic areas are covered at ONA16 … and will, of course, be including many, many more of your ideas, as submitted through our Suggestion Box.

  • Web video: Online video consumption has exploded in the past couple of years, and we suspect there’s more growth potential ahead. We’ll discuss how best to craft engaging web videos, as well as how people are using various platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live video to reach a real-time audience.
  • Innovative revenue models: Have a creative idea for revenue for newsrooms? We’re looking to include your voice at ONA16. We want to build on the successful revenue sessions held at ONA16 by looking at new ways to diversify.
  • Virtual reality / augmented reality: This year we’d like to host more conversations around virtual reality and augmented reality; the community is robust and a number of newsrooms have been doing dramatically different, innovative projects, so it’s time to take stock and see what we’ve learned.
  • Elections: There’s no escaping it; the 2016 Presidential election season has been one of the wildest in recent memory. We’ll look at how newsrooms have been approaching some of the more unique aspects of the campaigns.

These are just a few examples of issues we hope to cover at ONA16, and we’ll include so much more. Be sure to submit ideas relevant to your work to our Suggestion Box.