Members of the Online News Association (ONA) travel from all over the country once a year to gather and discuss digital media. ONA is a nonprofit membership organization for digital journalists. It connects journalism, technology and innovation. This year, the ONA16 conference was held in Denver, Colorado.
“There are people here that I’ve seen that I follow on Twitter and… whose work I’ve admired that I have run into here,” Charlie Smart, a student from the University of Connecticut, said. “It’s been really cool just to meet all of these people and sort of have this shared interest of online news.”
Not only is the conference a great opportunity for students to learn, but also for professionals in the online news business. It teaches about the latest technologies like chat bots, analytics, Facebook live and 360 virtual reality.
Michelle Baruchman, a student from the University of Georgia, believes that ONA is simply innovative.
“From what it began in 1999, they were talking about like just having a website, and now, it’s evolved into 360 and virtual reality and cloning and you know just crazy stuff,” Baruchman said.
The association has over 2,000 members from around the world. People can check its website to find out if there is a local chapter near them. Joining ONA gives a person the opportunity to network and share insights with other students and professionals.
“ONA provides grants for research projects and fellowships for students to come,” Baruchman said. “They help foster your community within local areas and regional areas and then just mentorships.”