Suggestion Box Selection

How we select sessions for the ONA annual conference

The ONA19 Suggestion Box, open Feb. 26 – March 21, is your opportunity to pitch session ideas and presenters. Here is what happens to the hundreds of ideas we receive!

Step 1: Read every idea and nominate the best


Ideas come to us from the Suggestion Box, the ONA19 Program Team, ONA Board members and staff. The Program Team — a diverse, volunteer group of professionals and technologists — reviews each and every idea. We received more than 400 ideas through the Suggestion Box last year, so this is not an easy task!

The group is looking for the best and most innovative ideas and presenters to help move digital journalism forward. They review the proposals based on specific criteria that add up to a great fit for the ONA conference and come up with a “short list” of sessions. These recommendations account for roughly two-thirds of our final conference programming.

Step 2: Create a draft program

Early May

Once the Program Team completes its review, ONA staff go through the list of recommended sessions and speakers and begin selecting ideas. We give the pitches a deeper look for quality and speaker diversity. We sometimes combine sessions on similar issues or ask submitters to add another presenter to their roster.

By the end of May, the conference schedule is 80% complete. We’ll leave a few slots for breaking news, emerging issues and any gaps identified by staff or the Program Chairs.

Step 3: Confirm speakers and post initial conference schedule

Late May/early June

We confirm speaker availability and post as much scheduling information as we can to the conference website before the early bird registration pricing ends. While we may still add a few more sessions, we are no longer looking for submissions on speakers or topics. We do add sessions around breaking topical news as deemed critical by ONA staff.

Step 4: Final Conference Schedule


The final schedule — including the Midway, our interactive forum — is available by July. We may still have a surprise or two, be that confirming a great keynote speaker or an urgent breaking news issue. By this time, we’re more or less finished, and looking forward to conversations with all of you at ONA19!

Explore more resources for pitching. The deadline for Suggestion Box submissions is March 21, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. ET.