5 things I’m looking forward to at ONA18

What a year! Last October I volunteered at this conference I’ve never been to before and had the time of my life. A few months later, I was selected to be a screener for the Online Journalism Awards. Today, I am a full-time ONA staffer, currently working on packing our supplies for this year’s conference in Austin. (Two weeks away!)

As I reflect on my whirlwind past year riding with ONA, here are some of the things I’m most looking forward to at ONA18:

1. Seeing that contagious smile from the registration crew on the first day.

These people sure enjoy welcoming everyone, and they hook you up with all your conference tools and swag.

The Registration and Help Desk — located across from the JW Grand Ballroom on the fourth floor — will be open 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 12 and from 7 a.m. on Sept. 13. Visit the desk to pick up your badge or if you need help with anything during the conference. For help, you can also find a volunteer wearing a bright orange shirt or tweet with the hashtag #ONA18Help.

2. Saying hi to the friends I made last year and making new friends.

I am looking forward to catching up and taking selfies with old friends and connecting with journalism leaders and professionals from across the globe to hear their stories. (This year we are expecting roughly 2,500 attendees!)

You can definitely find me at the Opening Night Reception at ACL Live, and I’ve also been working on a wishlist of must-see sessions, including  Early Career Tips From Our MJ Bear Fellows, How Facebook is Going for Local News and Journalism’s Poverty Problem.

3. Getting up close and personal with the latest technology for journalism.

I can’t wait to learn how emerging technology like 360 video is changing the way we report. There’s also Journalism 360’s immersive storytelling festival on Friday morning that I’ll be sure to drop in on.

4. Discovering this year’s OJA winners.

The Online Journalism Awards celebrate excellence in digital journalism around the world and will be presented on Saturday evening. This year we introduced the ONA Community Award to honor a behind-the-scenes journalism leader who does incredible work supporting other journalists — I can’t wait for the big reveal of the inaugural recipient!

5. In sum: Celebrating journalism with my peers!

Diana Lopez joined ONA in August 2018 as the Administrative Assistant, responsible for general operations and program support.