This is the sixth in a series of blog posts to help you decipher each program track at ONA15. You can sort our schedule by your own favorite track by clicking on any of the gray boxes on the main session page. You can also check out my previous posts on our tracks for Mobile Tools + DesignAudience Engagement + Impact,  Developer Tools + Tech, Audio, Photo  + Video, and Revenue + Ethics.

There are so many great sessions at ONA15, it can be difficult to decide which to attend! We’re particularly excited to preview our Professional Development track to help guide you in choosing your discussions, as it’s a brand-new track for the annual conference.

And don’t forget, for every track we’ll be hosting Table Talks, an open forum for discussing solutions to a variety of challenges in your area of interest or expertise.

Getting Started at ONA … and with your career

We anticipate ONA15 will be our biggest event ever, by a number of metrics including educational sessions offered, total attendees and number of networking opportunities.  This can be a tremendous asset, but it can also be challenging to navigate, particularly for first-time attendees. To help you out, we’re developing You’re #1: ONA15 First-Timer Orientation. Helmed by Storyful News Director and ONA Board Secretary Mandy Jenkins, as well as LA’s ONA Local co-leader Connie K. Ho, this sessions kick off the conference with information about ONA, tips on navigating the conference and a few recommendations on which session might be most helpful for first-timers.

Maybe getting started to you means getting  your career in gear. If that’s the case, check out Improving Digital News Internships, dedicated to making sure interns have a productive role in their newsrooms. Dow Jones News Fund’s Heather Taylor and Linda Shockley will serve as hosts for this interactive conversation, joined by Western Kentucky University’s Pam Johnson, MSN’s Amy Rolph and Cronkite School’s Mike Wong.

And if you need a jump start on a new job, check out our Career Fair, where you can chat with recruiters from top news organizations and graduate programs from around the world. It will be open both Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. You can even submit your resume in advance, and recruiters have the option of scheduling one-on-one time with candidates at ONA15. Learn more about submitting your resume.

Navigating the newsroom

We rarely get the opportunity to talk about some of the complex personal interactions we have in the newsroom, and conferences are a great time to pick up a few of these skills or better understand how others have tackled challenges.

For instance, we’ll discuss Pulling Off Your Big Project in a Small(er) Newsroom, with the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting’s Evan Wyloge and Chalkbeat’s Anika Anand.

We’ve all experienced that moment where we have a great idea — a killer app or website that we know will delight our audiences  … only to have it shot down by a manager who isn’t quite convinced your masterpiece is ready for investment. Digital journalists and managers will discuss what it takes to get that green light in Perfecting Your Internal Pitch with KXTV’s Ian Hill, WVEC Norfolk’s Shareef Abul-Ela, The Desert Sun’s Sarah Day Owen, and Cox Media Group’s Kari Cobham.

This year we’ll expand on a popular ONA14 session with Fail Fest: I Failed, It Sucked, But Here’s How I Bounced Back, with ONA Board Treasurer and AJ Plus Executive Producer David Cohn, CBS Local Digital’s Kim Fox, Fusion’s Mariana Santos, and NPR’s Gene Demby.

One of the most critical issues newsrooms face is improving diversity. In our Diversity 2.0 Workshop, a stunning group of diversity advocates will host a mix of lightning talks and tabletop discussions on how to take those first concrete steps toward improving the mix of newsroom employees. NPR’s Doug Mitchell and Katy Theranger, Fusion’s Latoya Peterson, The Tennessean’s David Plazas and ONA Board Diversity Chair and Aviation Queen Founder and Editor-in-Chief Benét Wilson will convene this fun and impactful session.

And finally — among our most important topics at ONA15, we’ll address the issue of online harassment in Friday’s keynote session, We Belong Here: Pushing Back Against Online Harassment. We’ll hear from an incredible group of women who have taken a variety of approaches in fighting online harassment, from openly sharing their stories to developing tools for combating trolls to advocating with tech companies to help cut back on  harassment while preserving freedom of speech. The team includes the Women’s Media Center’s Soraya Chemaly, Ohio University’s Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Slate’s Amanda Hess, author and journalist Laurie Penny, with moderator, Motherboard’s Sarah Jeong.


Leadership is one of the trickiest aspects of professional life, especially in a field where changing jobs every few years is the norm. In Developing Leaders for the New Normal, we’ll talk about it what it takes to identify and encourage next-level leaders with the newsrooms. Our cross-generational panel includes Billy Penn’s Jim Brady, Los Angeles Times’ S. Mitra Kalita, The Atlantic’s Delaney Chambers and NBC News’ Imaeyen Ibanga.

And finally, learn how to lead within your own digital journalism community in ONA Local: Creating Great Events for Networking, Learning and Fun. Local leaders will share ideas to spark inspiration on hosting their next event. WBUR’s Tiffany Campbell, The Boston Globe’s Catherine Cloutier and CQ / Roll Call’s Matt Mansfield will host.

Earning the Big Bucks

Look! In the back of the newsroom! It’s a developer! It’s a designer! No it’s … VISUALIZATION WOMAN! So often, digital employees have many hats to wear, and sorting out their roles, and how they should get paid, isn’t clear. We’re beginning the process of sorting out the job descriptions in The Journo-Tech Community Has Evolved, But How? Continuing a discussion started at SRCCON, ProPublica’s Scott Klein, The New York Times’ Brian Hamman and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews’ Erika Owens will host an interactive conversation that attemps to sort through who does what, and how that should translate to compensation.

While we’re on the subject, negotiating for compensation packages is one of the most important — and difficult — moments we all face. Join us for Negotiation, Compensation and You, a workshop brought forward from the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. We’ll talk about tips and tactics for getting the right compensation package, hosted by Poynter’s Katie Hawkins-Gaar and VShift’s Will Neville-Rehbehn.

We hope you’ll have a chance to explore these sessions and many others, and use our amazing networking opportunities to meet colleagues who share your passions and interests.

And see you in LA!