Note: This is second in a series of posts written by the conference organizers recommending sessions they feel will be particularly interesting. Of course, we hope every session is valuable to the right audience, but with so many things happening at ONA15,  we want to offer guidance from a variety of view points that will give you useful highlights. These recommendations come from Julie Westfall, co-chair of the ONA15 Program Team.


Julie Westfall

Here’s a common sight at the Online News Association’s annual conference: A mass of attendees flooding the common spaces between sessions, flipping through their programs (or scrolling through it on the conference app), debating their next moves and being torn between this session or that session: “On the one hand … on the other hand.”

A big team worked hard to give you all those choices —  but sometimes the decisions can be hard to make in the moment, so a number of us are pointing out some of our personal top picks — the ones that most frequently catch our eyes when we peruse the schedule — and here are mine. We can’t wait to see you in Los Angeles.

Developing leaders for the new normal

Thursday at 1:30 -2:30 p.m. – Olympic Ballroom II

Digital journalism is about constant change, but change is hard. As such, what it takes to lead a new organization in an era of change, has um, changed, too. At this session, you’ll hear about how the challenges that dynamic presents can be overcome from people who are doing it now, and they’ll be looking for tips from you, too. This is a conversation that applies to almost everyone no matter what kind of news organization they work in.

2016 Election Coverage, from Mayors to Governors

Thursday at 3 -4 p.m. – Constellation Ballroom II

We have a few sessions pointed at 2016 coverage, and this one applies to the kinds of races the most news organizations will be covering — local and state ones. We’ve put together a panel of journalists who have been pursuing creative ways to cover these elections. They’ll talk about how they’re pulling off their approaches, and we hope it inspires your election coverage, too.

The Ethics of Food Writing: A Conversation with Jonathan Gold

Thursday at 4:30-5:30 p.m. – Santa Monica Room

This session is just one of the ways ONA15 is taking advantage of the City of Angels. Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize winning restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, will discuss various aspects of food writing in the digital age, including whether journalists have a responsibility to educate readers about sustainability and how social media has impacted restaurant writing. Here’s his Twitter feed for a preview.

Negotiation, Compensation and You: A Workshop From the ONA-Poynter Women’s Leadership Academy

Friday at 3:30-4:30 p.m. – Constellation Ballroom II

This has been one of the top conversations regarding work life during the past year, and the conversation continues at ONA. This will be a practical discussion on the how-tos of negotiating a salary and other compensation — an important but frequently awkward task that just requires a little strategizing.