ONA offers hundreds of speaking, volunteer and fellowship opportunities for the annual conference. Below, we’ve listed descriptions and deadlines associated with each opportunity. Most opportunities come with complimentary badges, which can help defray the cost of attending ONA18.

Looking to connect with amazing innovators in digital media? We also provide a number of compelling sponsorship opportunities, or can craft something to your needs.

Last-Minute Opportunities

If you’re planning to attend ONA18, there are some opportunities to be included as a presenter closer to the event. Please note registration is not included with these opportunities.


Tell us what we’ve missed! These open sessions are a chance for you to propose conversations on topics we may not have covered elsewhere. Be ready to submit your ideas in August, and conference attendees will vote on their favorite topics right through the start of ONA18. The unconference is open to all ONA18 attendees. You can search for “unconference” on last year’s schedule page to see what sessions were accepted.

Submit to the Uncon

Lightning Talks

Bring your most innovative ideas to ONA18! We’ll host a series of rapid-fire lightning talks on Saturday, Sept. 15. All conference attendees are welcome to apply. Submissions will open in August. You can listen to ONA16’s session and also see the selected speakers here to get an idea of what pitches prove successful.

Submit a Lightning Talk

Additional Opportunities

Here are some additional opportunities to get involved (registration not included):


Discover emerging products to elevate your work. Experiment with new tools to increase your reach. Design new narrative forms using cutting-edge platforms. The Midway is journalism’s lab of the future. Join us to explore new tools, meet experts in the field, tell amazing stories, play with interactive landscapes and more. Contact midway@journalists.org or Jessica Strelitz, jessica@journalists.org, (571) 212-1363.

Learn more


Whether you’re looking to introduce your new product to thousands of innovators or join some of the most elite organizations in digital media in supporting ONA, we have sponsorship opportunities at a variety of levels. Contact Jessica Strelitz, jessica@journalists.org, (571) 212-1363.

Learn more

Online Journalism Awards

Want to have your incredible work showcased at our annual Online Journalism Awards banquet? Our awards honor excellence in digital journalism around the world, and represent a wide range of nonprofit, public, academic, major media, independent and emerging technology organizations. Entries will open this summer, and winners will be announced live at the Online Journalism Awards banquet on Saturday, Sept. 15, in Austin, TX.

Learn more

Closed Opportunities

Everything must come to an end – and that includes the application periods for all of our opportunities. Below are the openings for which the deadlines have passed.

Journalism Mentorship Collaborative Fellows

ONA’s Journalism Mentorship Collaborative, an open network of newsrooms committed to diversifying their organizations through mentorship programs, includes a fellowship opportunity. This fellowship has many perks, and included travel and hotel support for ONA18. Applications closed Feb. 2.

Learn about the program


We offer more than 100 volunteer positions to help make ONA18 a warm and welcoming environment before, during and a bit after the conference. Volunteers work alongside the best minds in digital journalism, and revel in the satisfaction of pulling off one of the premier events in the industry. Opportunities include general volunteers, as well as more technical positions for social, video and audio coverage.

While we review each application based on its strength, ONA prioritizes freelance and local news volunteer applicants.

We will let volunteer applicants know of their status – whether they are accepted or not – before early bird registration ends so that applicants who are not selected are able to take advantage of our lowest registration pricing. Read our volunteer FAQ for more, including about the available opportunities.

Applications closed March 29.

Learn more

Student Newsroom and Innovation Lab

The Student Newsroom is one of the most exciting opportunities at ONA18, immersing undergraduate and graduate students in a digital media environment by providing a hands-on reporting experience throughout the three days of the conference. In total, 20 students and 17 professional mentors will be selected to participate in the Newsroom.

Applications closed March 29.

Learn more

Present at ONA18

Our Suggestion Box offers an opportunity to pitch ideas to be included in ONA18 sessions. Each year, we look for inspiring thoughts, proven best practices and expert training on emerging tech and tools in digital journalism. Learn what we’re looking for, or read other frequently asked questions.

The Suggestion Box closed March 29, 2018.

Learn more

MJ Bear Fellowship

The MJ Bear Fellowship program recognizes innovative, early-career digital journalists, working independently or for a company or organization. Among many other perks, the fellowship includes support for registration, travel and accommodations for ONA18. Take a look at our 2017 MJ Bear Fellows to get a sense of the what our current fellows are working on.

The application period ended on July 9. Selected fellows will be announced in August.

CNN Fellowship

Digital journalists from diverse backgrounds with experience reporting for mobile and social platforms are encouraged to apply for the CNN Diversity Fellowship at ONA18. Four winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to ONA18. For the fourth year, this opportunity is supported by CNN.

Applications closed on June 28. Selected fellows will be announced in August.

HBCU Digital Media Fellowship

Five students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) receive hands-on experience during ONA18. The students create multimedia packages, as well as participate in mentorship focused on emerging technologies, tools and approaches to reporting and distributing news online. This fellowship is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Applications closed on Aug. 2. Selected fellows will be announced in August.