ONA16 Survival Guide

Getting here and getting around

HotelPicOur conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center, is at 650 15th Street, Denver, Colorado, USA, 80202. Check out our travel recommendations. The least expensive way to get from Denver International Airport to the hotel is using RTD, Denver’s $9 rail and bus service. Our friends at 5280 and our resident foodie Jess Strelitz have pulled together great tips for food in Denver and near the hotel. And make sure to check out this helpful post aimed at your last-minute needs: what to wear, where to find shopping near the hotel (toothbrush? outfit change? bottle of bourbon?) and more.

Making your schedule

When planning out your schedule, you’ve got options: Our responsive conference website looks lovely on your mobile. The interactive schedule on the ONA16 site is the best place to go for live updates and video streaming (where available). If you want to build a schedule, you can use our mobile app. Simply download the Grenadine Event Guide from the iOS or Android stores and use the code ONA16. You’ll receive a print program at registration, but remember, the online schedule is always your most up-to-date option, complete with any last-minute room, program or speaker changes.

Parties, receptions and events

We hope your schedule includes more than just sessions. Check out our definitive list of ONA16 parties and special events, including special receptions, meetups around town and early-morning yoga on the terrace.
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All of the things for ONA16

Most of you are on your way, and some of you are already here! Welcome to Denver! Here are some final reminders and tips to get you situated at ONA16.

Weather + what to wear:  Bring comfortable shoes for walking the Exhibit and Midway floors, fancy ones for the OJAs, receptions and parties, and sneakers for walking, biking and running, if you’re so inclined.

Warm days in the 70s and cool nights in the 50s (and high 40s) require a wardrobe that includes jackets, jeans, sweaters and pants, as well as lighter pieces for getting outside during the sunny days. Most events and sessions are casual, but we love it when people get glammed up for the the OJA awards banquet on Saturday.  Also, meeting space is always fairly cold so stuff something into your ONA attendee bag to warm you up during sessions.

2015-12-10 07.56.46An artsy hotel: The Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center is full of local artwork, including a striking set of climbers headed up the soaring wall in the main lobby.  If you’re headed to your room alone and hear the sounds of the ocean or children laughing, don’t freak out. It’s just part of the moving art found in each guest elevator. The front desk has details on of the hundreds of pieces and designs in the hotel.
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Vote now for the ONA 2017 Board of Directors

VoteIconVoting for the 2017 Board of Directors for the Online News Association is open Sept. 13-30. ONA members in good standing as of Sept. 12 can help shape the future of the the world’s largest digital journalism organization with your vote.

To vote, members can head over to ONA’s member center to access their credentials for the voting platform. Members will see their credentials as soon as they log in. Voting will close Sept. 30 and winners will be announced in October.

All 18 candidates will be in attendance at the 2016 Online News Association Conference in Denver and will share their thoughts on digital journalism during the Story, Platform and Design: Digital Journalism Insights + VIP Meetup, on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. MT. We’ll be live-streaming the event and archiving video for those who can’t attend. Send your questions in advance using #onaelects.
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In the know: Parties, receptions + networking at ONA16

Brightspot_LogoThis post is sponsored by the Brightspot.

Connect with your audience by creating compelling digital experiences, delivered on seven different viewing experiences, ultimately distancing yourself from competition. Introducing Brightspot TV: your over-the-top video channel, published like any other content type, from one unified platform. Learn more at The Midway.
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ONA names Irving Washington, CAE, as next Executive Director


WASHINGTON, DC — The Online News Association, the world’s largest organization of digital journalists, is pleased to announce that ONA Deputy Director Irving Washington, CAE, will succeed Jane McDonnell as Executive Director, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

In his current role, Irving serves as a key contributor to short- and long-term planning and strategy, responsible for operations and programming. Since joining ONA in 2011, he has managed ONA’s highest-profile initiatives, including the $1M Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, served as point person for all logistics for ONA’s annual conference and has grown the organization’s critical diversity and professional development programs.

“After a thorough search process, it was clear that Irving was the best choice to help us write ONA’s next chapter,” said Joshua Hatch, ONA Board President. “His background, knowledge, passion and professionalism are unmatched, and all of ONA will be the beneficiary of his leadership.”
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A 360 Tour of Visual Storytelling

Next month, many ONA16 sessions will show you how to improve your video storytelling skills. Take a look at these sessions focusing on video, virtual reality and 360 video.

New this year: You can now ask our speakers questions in advance of the conference. Get answers to your video questions and help speakers understand what you’re most interested in learning more about by posting a question on the session page. Just click through to the sessions below and drop your question in the embedded form.

  • Broadcast, Web Video and the Attention Economy. Online video can capture people’s attention in ways that print journalism can’t always do, but telling the news from an online video approach can mean taking on a very different mindset. Our team of experts will tell you how they have approached this challenge in a variety of ways. Nasr ul Hadi, ICGJ Knight Fellow – India; Molly Hughes, Director of Denver Post TV; Misty Montano, Digital Content Manager at 9NEWS KUSA and Chip Mahaney, National Director of News Recruitment at The E.E. Scripps Company, will talk about the workflow they’ve each used to produce high-quality web video, as well as best practices for gaining attention for your pieces.
  • Quick Guide to Your Basic 360/VR Toolkit: As 360 video and virtual reality have grown, so has the number of tools for creating them. Lakshmi Sarah, co-founder of Tiny World Productions, Kevin Tsukii, Immersive Video Lead for Immersive Group, and Nicholas Whitaker, Training and Development Manager for Google, will give an overview of affordable cameras, audio equipment and software to help you get started.
  • VR Technical Town Hall. This session, led by Robert Hernandez, Associate Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg School of Journalism and ONA board member, is aimed at practitioners who are already experienced in creating VR pieces. This is a place to openly discuss best practices, tools, current and upcoming gear, along with what’s on the near horizon for this rapidly growing medium. Space is extremely limited for this session.
  • VR Technical Workshop: Introduction to Unity. The more accessible virtual reality becomes, the more we are learning about it and the more we experiment. True virtual reality isn’t just 360 video; it also contains computer-designed graphic elements. We’re very excited to have our well-versed speakers, Daniel Pacheco, Professor from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and Ashley Pinnick, artist, VR developer and storyteller, give you a crash course on the Unity game engine. Unity is one of the most common tools for creating a true VR experience. This session will include an overview of what Unity has to offer, some pointers for getting started and resources for learning more about the platform. Though this is an introductory course, we consider this a technical workshop. This is aimed at people who are making VR content now. Please make sure you download the personal license version of Unity before the session (and preferably before you meet the hotel’s WiFi).

We’re looking forward to talking about how news organizations can create better experiences on video and beyond. These sessions represent just a small samping of what we’ll be focusing on at the conference this year. Be sure to check out the complete ONA16 program.

Midway offers tools for live streaming, video and the ethics around both

Poynter’s Al Tompkins wrote on July 8:

Facebook Live came of age this week in the way that radio did in World War II, TV did when John Kennedy was killed, cable TV did during the first Gulf War and Twitter did in the Arab Spring.”

While live streaming has existed for a few years, this past month brought it fully into the mainstream. Journalists and non-journalists alike are capturing raw live coverage of important events in ways that are transforming the dialogue, shifting perspectives as viewers experience situations immediately as they unfold.

If you’re not live streaming but want to learn more about how to DIY or are interested in figuring out how to work with citizen journalists to capture video, the Midway is the place to be. Facebook will be on hand to discuss Facebook Live. Additionally, make sure to check out start-ups Stre.am and LivePost with their own live streaming apps.

BigVu Video Pic

Credit: BigVu

Of course there are more ways to showcase video besides streaming! BigVu will show you how to create a professional-looking news broadcast from your phone, complete with a built-in teleprompter. Fresco and Storyhunter can help you engage citizen journalists who can capture video for your news site. Shorthand allows outlets to present multimedia stories beautifully — with no coding! And Brightspot organizes all digital content into a single library, making it easier for editors to create and maintain the content.

Finally, as live streaming and video continue to evolve, journalists need to consider the ethics of use. Thankfully, First Draft News will be on-hand in the Midway discussing their mission to helping navigate the tricky ethical road of reporting using social media.

Looking forward to seeing you in the Midway — and maybe on an ONA live stream!

Hanaa Rifaey is the Producer of the ONA16 Midway. You can send her questions — or inquire about the final few open spaces — here.

Legal pot: What you should know before coming to the Mile-High City



Smoking, eating, vaping — hell, even drinking — marijuana is totally within your rights in Colorado. But this cowboy state employs more than the code of the West when it comes to the industry and its users. Read over these basic rules, and our words of advice, before making your trip to Denver for the conference.

  1. Plan to visit a dispensary even you’re not interested in purchasing or partaking.

It’s a cultural novelty and a historical moment that’s worth seeing for yourself.

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Cheap eats around and at ONA16


Denverite-150-tallThis post is sponsored by Denverite.

News for Denver know-it-alls, newcomers and everybody in between. Digital-only, local, professional and fun. Sign up for our daily newsletter to know everything you need to know first thing every weekday. Visit us at denverite.com to keep up all day long.


Tea on the street in downtown Denver.

Narrowing cheap — and delicious — food options in Denver down to 10 (or so) suggestions is much harder than expected.  The city has a booming, diverse food scene that reflects a steady influx of new residents. A few notes for your week of eating:
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Staff picks: Don't miss these seven talks at ONA16 – Trevor Knoblich

PewResearchLogo-colorThis post is sponsored by the Pew Research Center.

Stop by the Pew space on the Midway during Thursday Office Hours from 2-3 p.m. They will be discussing the defining traits of the modern news consumer in today’s complex and digital news environment, as well as their 2016 state of the news media report.


I’m excited. You’re excited. ONA16 is an exciting time! Our annual gathering represents the culmination of months of work from our staff and Program Team to bring you meaty conversations to dig into, and fresh ideas to bring back to your newsrooms.

Since there are so many concurrent sessions at ONA16, we’re often asked to guide people on the “can’t-miss” sessions of the conference. It’s a bit like asking someone to pick out the most colorful fish in a reef tank — a subjective choice in a sea of wonder — but here are a few of my favorites, and I’d encourage you to check them out.
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