I usually have this post done the Monday after the 18th annual Online News Association conference. But there was so much to unpack I needed extra time to process everything. And for those of you who didn’t make it this year, it was just as good as it looked on social media, so I hope you’re preparing for New Orleans next year. So here’s my review.
- The ONA board is very popular! We have a record 22 folks running for six board seats, including me. No matter who wins, the board will be in a great position to help implement ONA’s strategic plan, already in progress. Click here to see the video, listen to the audio or read the social media on the candidate’s forum. Did I mention there was a bar? You have until Sept. 27 to vote, here.
2. Diversity a thing! I remember when there were so few of us attending the ONA conference that we all fit into a picture. But not this year! My #NABJ tribe took a photo but had to take several in order to get everyone, and we still didn’t do it. I saw many more people of color and got to see many friends I made at my first (and the last true) Unity convention in Chicago in 2008. And my heart was warmed seeing how many NABJ members say they will attend ONA in 2019. Overall, the diversity at this year’s conference was pretty good. Wait until New Orleans! #NABJAtONA
3. The ONA HBCU Fellows crushed it — again! THESE are the #ONA18 HBCU Digital Journalist Fellows at our awards banquet. Left to right: Xavier McKnight (Savannah State); Leah Proctor-Ford (Spelman); Shayla Simmons (Tennessee State); Kyla Wright (Hampton); Daja Henry (Howard); and Program Lead Mentor Michael R. Grant (Grambling State). I strongly encourage you to check out their work here, under HBCU FELLOWS REPORTING. And if you’re looking to diversify your newsroom internships, contact them; they’re all seniors! Or contact me — I’ll help you find them and other deserving students of color in need of paid internships.
4. I get by with a little help from my friends. I have to thank all of my friends who stopped by to speak with the HBCU fellows. They took time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences and wisdom with these young people. Most importantly, they made the HBCU fellows really think about the realities of a journalism career. So shout out to my boss Mandi Woodruff, executive editor at LendingTree; Rochelle Riley, award-winning columnist at the Detroit Free Press; 2018 CNN Diversity Fellow and SB Nation staff writer Tyler Tynes; Sarah Glover,NABJ President and NBC Social Media Editor; Ebony Reed, director of innovation and the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Futures Lab at the University of Missouri; Imaeyen Ibanga, senior producer and presenter with AJ+ and ONA board member (vote for her here); Akoto Ofori-Atta, senior editor of The Trace; and Jamal Jordan, 2017 CNN Diversity Fellow and digital storytelling editor at the New York Times.
5. And the winner is… This is my mentee Marissa Evans. Marissa worked in the Online News Association Student Newsroom (along with Anna-Lysa Gayle) in 2012. She is now the health policy reporter at the Texas Tribune. She was one of a few journalists of color to win an ONA journalism award for her story comparing the childbirth process in Poland and Texas. Marissa won a grant from the Pulitzer Foundation to pay for her trip to Poland (after meeting the granters at NABJ in New Orleans) to report on the story. These awards are prestigious and they are always competitive, but the right person won. P.S. If you’re looking to hire a talented journalist for your newsroom, you should definitely give Marissa a call. Or email me here — I have a lot of people who would be great for your newsroom. Seriously.
6. Amy Webb was…soothing! Her panel, “Tech Trends For Journalists,” is always packed. It’s known for dropping some serious wisdom — and scaring the crap out of us. But this year, Amy flipped the script and focused on the optimistic side, and gave us cocktails to boot! You can view, listen to and read about her session here — and I highly recommend that you do.
7. Women rule. This is a photo of women who are kicking ass, both on the ONA board and in their careers. I hope that every one of them ends up running ONA, now and in the future.
8. Time management. The truth is, I *suck* in this area. There was always a workshop to attend, a person to have coffee with, mentees to hug, board duties to perform, receptions and parties to enjoy, dinners to eat and cocktails to enjoy (thanks, Mandy Jenkins for making me stay up when I really wanted to sleep).
9. I saw the future of journalism. One of my favorite things about the ONA conference is The Midway. I call it an exhibit hall on steroids because you have great companies creating interesting tools and tech that help us do our jobs smarter and better. There are hands-on demonstrations and presentations on what’s next. Check out this 2:10-minute video on what you missed.
10. The ONA staff kicks ASS! Led by Executive Director Irving Washington, this staff — a perfect blend of full-timers and great consultants — always manages to raise the bar with our conference every year. If there were issues, we never saw them. Every single time I saw a member of the ONA team, they were cool, collected and smiling. And a BIG shout out to the newest member of the staff, Diana Lopez, who started on the job mere days before we descended on Austin.