Midway Programming Application Tips & FAQs

Considerations for Developing Your Midway Session Proposal

As you think through your session concept, consider the following:

  • Audience: Who is your target audience? How is this concept relevant to that audience? How will you keep them engaged? What would you like them to walk away with once the session is over?
  • Concept: Your chief aim is to share knowledge with the community, not focus on a single product or project. People attend ONA conference sessions with a specific purpose: to be inspired by a new idea or learn a new skill. As you flesh out your idea, consider the following:
    • Can you be solutions-oriented? What may those solutions be?
    • Can you be specific? Think about why and how you think your topic is useful for ONA attendees, and why an attendee would take time to watch/participate live or watch the recording.
  • Your team and time: Who will be involved in this programming? Does that person/do they reflect the diversity of the ONA community? Can they commit to about 5 hours of preparation time before mid-September? Would they be open to collaboration and constructive feedback from ONA and potential co-presenters from other groups?

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Questions You Might Have

What is the Midway?
In 2020, ONA took the tech space at our annual conference — formerly branded as the Midway — and applied it to all companies interested in showcasing their tools, products and more to ONA’s audience; effectively combining our exhibit hall and the Midway space. The Midway features the Start-Up Alley, as well as a dedicated series of sessions for all supporters of the conference. With ONA22, the main exhibit space onsite (third floor Jogging Track and Hollywood Ballroom) and our virtual exhibit space will be called the Midway.

Can I ask for advice before pitching?
Yes, absolutely! Please email Hanaa Rifaey, who manages the Midway Programming, at hanaa@journalists.org with any questions. She can have a quick conversation to talk through your ideas, but please do not plan for her to edit your pitch.

There is another group (or groups) sponsoring ONA22 that compliments what we’re doing. Could we partner up and pitch together?
Yes! If you don’t already have a relationship with that group, please let Hanaa know if it would be helpful to have an introduction.

Is it possible that, if selected, I will be asked to have speakers from another Midway group in my session?
It is possible if it will make for better programming.

If selected, will my group receive additional full passes with our sponsorship package?
No. Please take this into consideration when considering potential speakers from your group.

Can I have people from outside of my group speak on my behalf in the Midway session, if selected?
This is something we would address on a case-by-case basis. If this is something you are considering, please include this in your pitch.

My group is an ONA22 sponsor. Does this mean that we are guaranteed a speaking spot in a Midway session?
With the rebranding of the Midway to now also include what was previously known as the ONA Exhibit Hall, it is not logistically possible to accommodate all of the participating groups.

Can my group apply before committing to sponsor ONA22?
Yes, but if selected, your group will need to have a signed agreement in place within one week of the acceptance email to move forward.

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Will Midway Programming be livestreamed?
Midway Programming will not be livestreamed. Live Midway Programming sessions will not be captured on video for archival purposes.

Is there an option to do a pre-recorded session instead of a live session?
We are open to the option of a pre-recorded session. If this is the preferred option for your proposal group, you must note that in your application. Please note that if this is the route you select, the session would be broadcast online only; it would be available for on-demand viewing after its premiere. ONA would produce the pre-recorded session and would require that the recording take place no later than Sept. 7, 2022.

Can speakers participate virtually in live Midway Programming?
No. All speakers participating in live Midway Programming must have a full registration pass to ONA22 and plan to be present onsite at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles on the scheduled day of their session.

I have a great ONA22 topic idea but … it’s all about my company. Can I still submit?
Midway programming is not a place for sales pitches — but there is space for you to do that at your onsite and virtual booth (which includes space for a video!) and as you connect with attendees. We are interested in the big ideas.

What makes for a good proposal?
The more specific your idea is, the better. We’re more interested in your idea and the kind of information you want to share rather than how you would share that idea. Check out the ONA19 (our last annual event in person), and ONA20 and ONA21 (both online) schedules to get a sense of the various types of sponsored programming, including Midway sessions.

How important is diversity in considerations?
ONA is strongly committed to being as inclusive as possible in speaker selection and topic programming. This means supporting diversity in speaker demographics, including sex and gender, ethnicity and race, ability and disability, region and geography and professional background and experience, among other metrics. It also means balancing active versus passive session concepts, programming for people working multiple news focus areas and work roles, attracting ONA conference newcomers and making sure sessions are not dominated by a single organization.

Is it better to submit a panel or another type of session?
Eighty percent of conference attendees prefer to be actively engaged in conference sessions. While there will be panel discussions at ONA22, there will also be a wide variety of workshops, collaborative documents, and other engaging session types.

What makes for a good title?
Cute titles are really fun! But keep in mind that your title will be fighting for attention with dozens of others. Be direct and descriptive.

If my idea is selected, what happens next?
ONA will work closely with you to develop your session. The more preparation you put in, the better the session will turn out. We estimate a minimum of 5 hours of prep will be needed. We will work together to flesh out your concept, develop the format, and execute the session itself. ONA attendees are smart people who enjoy smart programming. They will figure it out if you have not fully prepared and will leave your session to find something more interesting.

Is there any reason for which you might cancel my session?
ONA reserves the right to cancel your session if you do not communicate in a timely fashion, adhere to our diversity principles, submit information on a pre-discussed schedule or take part in the pre-event development process.

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Still have a question?
Happy to talk! Please email Hanaa at hanaa@journalists.org.