10 Reasons to Attend the ONA Conference

by Megan Combs on September 29, 2014

Together at last!This week, Kelly and I reunited at the Online News Association in Chicago. It was my first ONA and I worked it as a volunteer. Kelly is the volunteer chair, and this was her second ONA conference. So were you on the fence about whether you should attend ONA? Kelly and I are here to give you the top 10 reasons you should DEFINITELY attend.

Also, we were going to post a video for you, but Kelly lost her voice, which will be explained in one of these top 10 reasons.

1.  Networking. Everyone says that about every conference, right? But seriously. Where else do you get to meet your journalism heroes and crushes? You have the opportunity to meet so many people and there are hundreds of people from all different backgrounds and the one thing you all have in common is news.

2. The parties. This ties into No. 1 because you get to network even more through the parties than you do in the sessions. This is also where you lose your voice. So bring some lozenges and hydrate. You’ll be fine.

3. The sessions. I attended sessions about digital journalism tools, how to go mobile successfully, design thinking and even a panel of lady journalism leaders who were very empowering. You learn so much in a short amount of time and you can apply everything you learn almost instantly. The takeaways are huge.

4. Volunteering. First off, Kelly is the best volunteer chair ever. Secondly, you get a behind the scenes look at how the conference is run and you still get to attend sessions you’re interested in. You don’t miss out at all. If anything, you’re more involved.

5. The swag. Don’t even say you don’t love swag. Pens, cups, koozies, shirts, sunglasses, jump drives, stickers, chapstick, food! What more do you want/need?

6. The Midway. This is related to the swag and this is where one gets said swag. It’s an exhibit hall full of new toys and the hands-on part of ONA. This year you could have tried out a pair of Google Glass, took a crack at virtual reality news with Oculus Rift and even asked Twitter professionals your toughest questions.

7. The glasses. Are you looking for a new pair of spectacles? The attendees wear the best glasses! It’s a regular eyeglass fashion show.

8. Friendships. ONA is definitely a bonding experience. If you can’t bond during an open bar, then when can you bond? This goes with networking, sort of, but if you want to make new journo friends, this is the place for you.

9. Passion. To quote volunteer Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis it’s “rejuvenating to be around people who love the same things you do.” It’s hard to talk about journalism with people who aren’t really into it, but here you can let your freak journalism flag fly.

10. Locations. It’s in a different city every year and you not only get to experience the conference, but you get new experiences every year. For example, our first networking party this year was at the Chicago Field Museum where we got to take selfies with the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton there is. You not only get to experience the conference with like-minded people, but you get a new venue every year.

Bonus: Hashtag city. Each session had a unique hashtag to follow to relive after it’s over and it’s the only conference where you can use hashtags in regular conversations and not be judged.

So next year, ONA is in LA. ONA takes LA! Stay tuned for volunteer opportunities for next year’s conference. You’ll be hearing from Kelly soon. Also, I plan to write up a takeaway post about the things I learned that I want to share with you.

What did you love about ONA?




Kelly loves dinosaurs


Selfie at the dotpress booth

selfie at the dotpress booth.


oh heeey



Fresh ink


Reunited Never Felt So Good

by Megan Combs on September 16, 2014

In just eight days, the greatest event in the name of journalism and friendship will occur: Kelly and I will be reunited for the first time in three years!

That’s right. I’m a volunteer at the Online Journalism Association’s 2014 conference in Chicago, and Kelly is the volunteer chairwoman. Together, but also separately, we’ll be attending sessions all about journalism. Check back for a report from the sessions I attended after Sept. 28!

So how did we get separated anyway? Well, I got a job at Patch.com and left The Morning Journal in March 2011. I moved from Broadview Heights, Ohio, to Fairlawn, Ohio, which was farther away from where Kelly lived. She stayed on at The Morning Journal for a while before moving to Colorado. Once she moved, I was still too poor (journalism, am I right?) to go see her and vice versa.  I’m pretty sure Kelly lives in Wyoming now, but I can’t be sure because her Facebook check-ins really confuse me.

We’ve obviously stayed in touch this whole time, and I’m hoping there will be a video of our epic finally reunited hug (she said she got a GoPro for a wedding present).If there’s not a video of our hug, there will be a video while we’re at ONA. So stay tuned. You know how these videos go. They’re hilarious!




How to Survive a Layoff in Journalism (Part 2)

July 28, 2014

Hello friends, As Megan mentioned, it has indeed been awhile. How have you been? How’s the family? We can skip past the formalities if you would like and get down to the nitty-gritty. Megan and I have both survived layoffs in journalism. Megan summed up the emotional roller coaster that comes with learning about the […]

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How to Survive a Layoff in Journalism (Part 1)

July 21, 2014

It’s been a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean a LONG time. So, hello! We’re back! And we’ve got some new content for you after one year of straight nothin’ (sorry about that). So what have we been up to? Well, for one thing, we were both laid off from […]

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Sneak preview of what’s to come

May 17, 2013

I am using TimelineJS to create a timeline of events related to Daft Punk, as they have a new album being released next week. As part of that interactive timeline, we are giving the audience a playlist. Tweet

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Experimenting with crossword puzzles

May 8, 2013

Holy new blog, batman! So in my new role as Chief GSD Officer within the Project Thunderdome features team, I have a lot of roles. On the fun side, I have been experimenting with building games for our audience – it’s engaging, has a shelf life and is fun. My latest topic? Celebrity. This one […]

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JRC files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

September 5, 2012

Before reading this post, full disclosure: I have been with the company for going on three years. Today Journal Register Company, the company which owns The Morning Journal – where Megan and I both worked – has announced it is filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The announcement was made this morning and just as the news was […]

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We really should blog more, eh? (a reflection)

September 5, 2012

Things have been crazy in our lives. And I keep doing some cool stuff and I keep thinking about how I should blog about them – but I just don’t. I don’t know why, because I think I have something to offer. But alas, let’s just end the ramblings and do something about it.  I can’t […]

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