Suggestion Box Selection Process

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How we select sessions for the ONA annual conference

The ONA21 Suggestion Box, open March 18 – April 15, 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

April 2021

Ideas come to us from the Suggestion Box, the ONA21 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

May 2021

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.

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

May-June 2021

We confirm speaker availability and post scheduling information starting in mid-May, and continue to post sessions as we confirm them. By early June, the conference schedule is nearly complete. 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.

Explore more resources for pitching. The deadline for Suggestion Box submissions was April 15, 2021, at 9 p.m. ET.