Note: This is first 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 Luis Gomez, co-chair of the ONA15 program team.

Luis Gomez

So you’ve made it this far, and that feeling may already be setting in. That feeling is the slight sense of panic or FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) as you come face-to-face with the ONA15 conference schedule. So many options! What to pick? Where to go?

Don’t worry! Those of us who helped shaped this year’s conference are excited to show you our top picks for all three days. Unlike the pride I get when I talk about my favorite bands or my favorite movies (Kubrick emphasis here), I feel it’s a sense of duty to emphasize the sessions that I believe will make you a better journalist at the end of the day.

Assuming you’re reading this and you haven’t quite planned out your sessions for all three days, here are five recommendations I consider to be “can’t-miss” sessions:

You and What Developer Army? Local Election Coverage Without A Large Team
Thursday at 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Sherman Oaks Room
In this session, FiscalNote developer Adam Nekola will show you a number of web tools and strategies for covering a local election without the manpower or artillery of a large newsroom. This one is essential for government reporters, web producers, editors and social media managers who want to learn new ways to cover the local city council race or engage voters. If you do go, bring a laptop and tweet your notes using the hashtag #ONA15voters.

Using Data, New Tools and Social Media to Hack the Upcoming Elections
Thursday at 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Pacific Room
While you’re still in elections-journalism mode, step right into this sponsored session to learn the best practices for using technology, data and other methods to cover the next campaign cycle. These ideas come from winners of the most recent Knight News Challenge on Elections: Robert Maguire of the Center for Responsive Politics and Amalie Nash of the Des Moines Register. This session—essential for government reporters, web producers, editors and social media managers—includes tips on how to prepare winning applications for the current News Challenge on Data due September 25. If you do go, bring a laptop and tweet your notes using the hashtag #newschallenge.

Help Us Fund Your Work: Candid Advice from Funders Who Love You
Friday at 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. – Los Angeles Room
Are you a nonprofit newsroom seeking to get funded? This is the session for you. Listen to a Q&A (and take notes) between funders and grantees on the decision-making process and tips for applying for a grant. This session is essential for executive directors, grant writers, publishers and anyone who wants to get in on the game of journalism funding. If you do go, bring a laptop and tweet your notes using the hashtag #fundmedia.

The WNYC Podcast Accelerator
Friday at 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. – Los Angeles Ballroom
If you’re a journalist thinking of starting your own podcast, this session is definitely for you and your bosses. This WNYC-hosted session is a real-time judging competition to find the next great podcast. You’ll hear from journalists like yourself come up and pitch their podcast ideas, and a set of judges will pick the grand-prize winner. You’ll also hear from WNYC’s top talent on what it takes to make a great podcast. If you do go, bring your smartphone and tweet your notes using the hashtag #ONA15wnyc.

Revenue Streams Beyond The Big Three
Saturday at 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Constellation Ballroom II
I consider this session to be vital for anyone running nonprofit newsrooms (and those who want to start their own). In this session you’ll learn how to earn revenue beyond advertising, memberships/paywalls and events. This session is essential for executive directors and editorial managers looking to learn about crowdfunding, expanding to new markets, selling data and more. If you do go, bring a laptop and tweet your notes using the hashtag #ONA15newrev.