Suggestion Box FAQ

Each year, we bring together journalists, technologists and academics to share the most exciting trends in digital journalism.

As always, we’re looking to pull in fresh, creative ideas. We’re especially interested in sessions that don’t fit the traditional panel format, though we do accept panels. Anyone can submit a proposal to the Suggestion Box.

Consider the following question when formulating your proposal:

  • What can you teach digital journalists?
  • Who or what have you seen or heard that might inspire us?

Keep in mind that these sessions are often a starting point for discussions about topics we’ll cover at the conference. ONA will often ask presenters to refine their proposals or combine their ideas with other presenters to address a single topic.

Quick Tips

  • Be specific. The session’s title should accurately reflect the topic.
  • Be timely. Suggest topics relevant to this year, not rehashes of 2013.
  • Be realistic. ONA does not pay speakers.
  • Be selfish. Suggest a topic you are passionate about.
  • Be inclusive. ONA strives for all types of diversity.
  • Be refreshing. What new speakers and ideas should your colleagues hear?
  • Be enterprising. Think beyond demos or pontificating — help others learn.

Who can submit a proposal to the ONA14 Suggestion Box?
Anyone. Whether you are an executive, a manager, a journalist, a designer, a developer, a consultant, a vendor, a student, an academic or just a very interested news consumer, we want to hear your great programming ideas. We do not accept proposals promoting a single product or service. That said, there are plenty of ways to let people know about your awesome product, tool or service on our sponsorship page or by participating in the Midway.

What makes for a good proposal?
As a rule: the more specific, the better. Why? Because specificity demands a lot more thought and planning — and pre-event thought and planning are the two biggest keys to a successful session. As an example, ONA organizers are more interested in titles such as “Lessons From Humans: Design That Works” than something like “Design Trends.”

How important is diversity in considerations?
ONA is strongly committed to highlighting diverse topics and speakers at our conference, including session ideas, geography, gender, race, nationality, age and new voices.

Is it better to submit a panel or another type of session?
As mentioned, we are especially interested in sessions that don’t fit the traditional panel format, though we do accept panels. Panels of three to four individuals can be excellent, but the topic and panelists should be in sync and meticulously prepared. We encourage creative approaches and a range of discussions, training and interactive experiences.

What makes for a good title?
Cute titles are fun. But remember that your title is going to be fighting for attention with hundreds of others. So the more direct/explanatory you can make it, the better. As an example, “Size Matters: Scaling WordPress Blogs” is better than something like “Why Size Matters.”

Do I need to have other speakers confirmed when I submit my session idea?
No. In fact, we strongly prefer that you do NOT confirm other speakers until your session idea is accepted because ONA staff will work closely with you to make sure there is sufficient diversity and expertise in your session.

If my idea is selected, what happens next?
ONA will work closely with you to fine-tune the focus of your session as well as to select other speakers. As a general rule, the more preparation, the better the session. Pre-event preparation means communicating with other speakers weeks ahead of time to clarify the focus of the session. ONA attendees are smart and they enjoy smart programming. If they realize you haven’t fully prepared, they will leave your session room and go to the more interesting one next door.

When will I learn about the status of my proposal?
The deadline for submissions is April 18. We expect to announce the first round of session confirmations in June. You will be notified in late May about the status of your proposal — whether your proposal has been accepted, or if we are still reviewing your idea.

If my idea is selected, what does ONA pay for?
Only presenters are given a complimentary ONA14 registration. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide travel, lodging or other financial compensation for speakers.