Midway FAQ

Learn all about the ONA19 Midway, including Startup Alley, panel discussions, and demos.

When and where is the Midway?

The Midway will be held at ONA19, September 12-14 at the Sheraton New Orleans. It will be located on the 3rd floor, in the Napoleon Ballroom, our main exhibitor/sponsor floor.

How many people do you expect?

We anticipate about 2,800 attendees. Based on the ONA18 conference survey, 95 percent of attendees visit the Midway, exhibitors and sponsor lounges over the course of the three-day conference.

What is the difference between the Midway and the Exhibit Hall?

The Midway is an interactive space in which ONA attendees can engage directly with featured tools and products at booths and tables. The Midway is meant to feature spotlight emerging technologies, create opportunities for collaboration, and be hands-on.

The Exhibit Hall offers the opportunity for sponsors, media organization, educators and exhibitors at larger booths to showcase their work, recruit new employees or students, answer client questions, and more.

The primary difference between the Midway and the Exhibit Hall is the Midway’s emphasis on interactivity.

What is the Start-Up Alley?

As part of the Midway, ONA offers deeply discounted space to a limited number of start-ups that demonstrate unique innovation in addition to fulfilling the Midway mission of interactivity. ONA defines start-ups as newly established ventures that have not been operating for more than two years. Start-ups are allowed to participate in the Start-Up Alley a maximum of two times. Start-Ups only exhibit for a single day, as opposed to the entirety of the Midway schedule.

Why do Start-Up Alley groups exhibit for just one day?

Given many start-ups’ limited funds, groups often cannot afford to bring more than one person to ONA,  With this in mind, we require these groups to only commit to a single day at their table space: either Thursday, September 12 or Friday, September 13.

What are examples of good interactivity in the Midway?

Successful examples of previous Midway booths have included VR (both new VR films and exploring tools used to create VR and 360 experiences), hands-on trainings for new tools, trying out drones and building arduinos.

What makes for a good participant in the Midway?

The best participants in the Midway are the ones who understand they need to be fully present in their space and ready to talk to people about their products and the role it can play in the news ecosystem.

We are looking for disruption

. We are also looking for innovative tools that can help ONA attendees. Most importantly, we need people confident in what they are showcasing at their booth and excited to demonstrate it in the most interactive way possible.

How important is diversity to the Midway?

ONA is committed to being as inclusive as possible at all of our conferences, programs and events. We view this with a broad lens that encompasses session ideas, geography, gender, race, nationality, professional experience and newcomers to the annual conference. We take diversity into account with applications. Additionally, we will ask each group presenting in a discussion and/or demo to consider who from their team will be representing them. In considering potential representatives, we ask groups to consider their areas of expertise, their background, and the shared overall goal of creating an inclusive and diverse conference. We reserve the right to request alternative speakers if they do not adhere to this diversity pledge.

What are the Midway panel discussions?

The Midway hosts panels about topics that are important to the ONA community, with Midway participants speaking and leading discussions in the areas of their expertise. These sessions are moderated opportunities to hear from and interact with experts in their fields. ONA attendees view this programming with the same lens as all other programming at the conference, and therefore they must be designed to be educational — not advertorial.

The panels are organized after groups are selected to participate in the Midway, taking into account topics the ONA community has expressed interested in as well as the themes that emerge from the groups selected to participate. The Midway Producer organizes the panel groups around a general topic concept and the group collaboratively works out the details of the panel (including title and description). An independent moderator is selected to lead the conversation at the conference.

Check out the Midway program from ONA18 to get a sense of the types of topics we have previously covered.

What are the Midway demos?

In response to ONA attendees asking for more demos of useful products, the Midway is going to bring back up to 10 short, scheduled demos. Groups interested in demos must audition via video chat, demonstrating that they can:

  • be engaging. What will you/your group do to involve the audience?
  • be mindful: what types of people are you hoping to target? What will they take away from your demo? What can they do with your product right away?
  • be refreshing: what will the audience get from watching your demo that they won’t get anywhere else (besides your booth)? Your demo will be competing against a lot of other conference programming; will attending your demo be worth the audience’s time?
  • be inclusive. ONA is committed to all types of diversity for all ONA programming.

What are the price points for the different types of spaces in the Midway and the Exhibit Hall?

Please see here for more information about packages and sponsorship opportunities.

What are additional costs we should consider?

Please take into account travel, lodging and meals to start. We encourage groups to book their lodging as soon as possible because spaces in and around the two host hotels go fast.

Shipping materials to the conference has costs associated besides the actual shipping fees.

For the booth space, you are responsible for power (unless specified in your package), and anything you may want in your space besides a table and chairs. You may rent furniture and electronics, or you may bring your own. (Should you bring your own, there are rules you will be required to follow.)

All shipping and rental pricing will be made available as soon as confirmed.

I am not sure whether my company belongs in the Midway or the Exhibit Hall. How should I proceed?

Please contact Jess at jessica@journalists.org. We are happy to schedule a conversation with you to figure out what makes the most sense for you.

Who do I contact with more questions about the Midway?

Please contact Hanaa at midway@journalists.org with any questions. We are happy to schedule a time to chat if that would be helpful.