The Suggestion Box is our way of generating ideas from the community to help us organize a great conference. Anyone can submit a proposal, and it’s never too early to get started crafting your ideas.

Each year, we aim to share inspiring ideas and best practices for newsrooms and journalism schools around the world. We also discuss solutions to a variety of challenges faced by journalists, executives, sales teams, educators, students and anyone else who works in the digital journalism space.

As always, we’re looking to pull in fresh, creative ideas. We’re especially interested in sessions that don’t fit the traditional panel format.

Consider the following questions when formulating your proposal:

    • Who is your target audience, and what would they walk away with once your session is over?
    • What solutions to common issues have you been working on that other newsrooms might also be able to adapt to their work?

Keep in mind that these suggestions are often a starting point for discussions about topics we’ll cover at the conference. ONA will often ask presenters to refine their proposals or combine their ideas with other presenters to address a single topic.

Quick Tips

  • Be specific. The session’s title should accurately reflect the topic.
  • Be timely. Suggest topics relevant to this year, not rehashes of 2015.
  • Be realistic. ONA provides speakers with free registration, but cannot cover travel expenses, hotel or meals.
  • Be selfish. Suggest a topic you are passionate about.
  • Be inclusive. ONA strives for all types of diversity.
  • Be refreshing. What new speakers and ideas should your colleagues hear?
  • Be enterprising. Think beyond demos or pontificating — help others learn.
  • Be mindful. What audience will you reach? What do they get out of it?

Who can submit a proposal to the ONA16 Suggestion Box?

Anyone. Whether you are an executive, a manager, a journalist, a designer, a developer, a consultant, a vendor, a student, an academic or just a very interested news consumer, we want to hear your great programming ideas. We do not accept proposals promoting a single product or service. That said, there are plenty of ways to let people know about your awesome product, tool or service on our sponsorship page or by participating in the Midway.

What makes for a good proposal?

As a rule: the more specific, the better. Why? Because specificity demands a lot more thought and planning — and pre-event thought and planning are the two biggest keys to a successful session. As an example, ONA organizers are more interested in titles such as “Climate Change and Design Thinking” than something like “Design Trends.”

How important is diversity in considerations?

ONA is strongly committed to highlighting diverse topics and speakers at our conference, including session ideas, geography, gender, race, nationality, age and new voices.

Speaking of diversity, I’ve heard ONA prefers presenters from different organizations. But I work for Tribune / Gannett / NPR member station / another company with multiple properties. Can I submit my name and a colleague from another, sister organization?

Absolutely! We prefer presenters from multiple organizations as it can give a range of perspectives. If you can meet that goal from within your parent company, that’s fine. Just remember, a mix of mediums (TV / print for example) is also useful.

Is it better to submit a panel or another type of session?

As mentioned, we are especially interested in sessions that don’t fit the traditional panel format. Duo sessions that still factor in diversity are our favorite, and will receive priority consideration. Panels of three to four individuals can be excellent, but the topic and panelists should be in sync and meticulously prepared. We encourage creative approaches and a range of discussions, training and interactive experiences.

What makes for a good title?

Cute titles are fun. But remember that your title is going to be fighting for attention with hundreds of others. So the more direct/explanatory you can make it, the better. Remember, people will be searching our site for topics relevant to them, so your pitch should be something easy to find in a search.

Do I need to have other speakers confirmed when I submit my session idea?

No. In fact, we strongly prefer that you do NOT confirm other speakers until your session idea is accepted because ONA staff will work closely with you to make sure there is sufficient diversity and expertise in your session.

If my idea is selected, what happens next?

ONA will work closely with you to fine-tune the focus of your session as well as to select other speakers. As a general rule, the more preparation, the better the session. Pre-event preparation means communicating with other speakers weeks ahead of time to clarify the focus of the session. ONA attendees are smart and they enjoy smart programming. If they realize you haven’t fully prepared, they will leave your session room and go to the more interesting one next door.

When will I learn about the status of my proposal?

The deadline for submissions will be March 31. We expect to announce the first round of session confirmations in June. A final schedule will be posted in mid-July. You will be notified in mid-July about the status of your proposal — regardless of whether your proposal has been accepted or not.

If my idea is selected, what does ONA pay for?

Invited presenters are given a complimentary ONA16 registration. We are not able to provide travel, lodging, or other financial compensation for speakers.