I’m running for the Online News Association board of directors!

Update: I won a board seat! Read the announcement of the winners. Congrats to the others! 

(Here’s the announcement of this year’s candidates slate.)

The Online News Association board application asked for my vision. Here it is!

The web succeeds because it is distributed and networked. To continue our improvement as an organization, we must take cues from that dynamic. Like the web, we need to see ourselves more as a platform than a mere organization. What can we enable and facilitate? The local meetup groups and conference hallways are prime examples of how we already do this well — and there’s much more potential to harness the talents and expertise of our members.

We need to not only improve the tools we use to do better journalism, but also be the ones creating tools. The storytelling and business potential is limited only by our imaginations and technical capabilities. This also makes us more proactive in leading change, not simply reactive and bound to the tools available.

Journalism is inherently interdisciplinary — and it should be even more so. There’s great value in learning lessons from other journalists, but there is much more to be learned from other fields. A possible first step in this direction would be to partner with niche journalism organizations (SABEW, SEJ, etc.) and then explore relationships with other professional organizations or academic institutions to learn about other fields (tech, science, digital humanities, etc) .

Specific ideas:

  • Expanded member base: More non-journalist/associate members and conference/meetup attendees (math and stats, data science, architecture, psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology, industrial design, etc). For example, the NICAR12 conference offered a day’s worth of events related to text analysis, featuring — among other things — a computational linguist and a workshop on Natural Language Toolkit.
  • Better discovery: Who else in ONA should I know? Who should I meet at the conference who I don’t know I should meet? We could ask members to submit three interests along with their registration and then facilitate introductions.
  • Unconferences: We should explore hosting smaller, focused discussion-based sessions along with the unconference sessions we offer at the annual conference. Also, we could consider a full-fledged unconference track.
  • Partner with other journalism organizations such as Hacks/Hackers and IRE/NICAR for training.
  • Directed learning and additional self-education resources: similar to what Reporter’s Lab does with tools, this could point people to online courses of interest to journalists and feature reviews, comments, etc.
  •  More local workshops and training: there seems to be a lot of demand for low-cost training, in addition to the pre-conference workshops and parachute training.
  • Mentorship program: pair students with young professionals and/or young professionals with experienced professionals.
  • Better leverage the talents of our network: At ONA11 Michelle Minkoff and Heather Billings set up shop in the hallways to help interested journalists learn some coding skills. We need more of this! Not just for coding, but in general.

Finally, if I elected, I will work to institutionalize a karaoke event at the annual conference. This is important not just for the social aspect, but could also be a fundraising event — similar to the Society for News Design’s karaoke events.


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