Monday, November 22, 2010

Congratulations to the New ONA Board!

I wasn't able to make a case for myself, but the Online News Association will not be the worse for it -- from an extraordinary field a stellar new board has been elected.

The full story is here, but congratulations to Josh Hatch of USA Today, Robert Hernandez of the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Will Sullivan of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who begin two-year terms on the eight-member board on Jan. 1.

My one regret? While participation was up 14% this year, only 371 of the 1,816 eligible members cast ballots. That is a paltry 20.43% turnout.

I'd love it if the board undertook some kind of initiative to increase participation. Here's one humble idea. It's from a loser, so take it for what it's worth:

The annual ONA conference sells out these days, with 800 attendees — more than twice as many as voted this year. The vast majority are eligible members. Candidates for the board candidates are invited to attend and introduce themselves. Seems like a perfect opportunity to gently ensure massive voter participation. Members who don't attend can cast what amount to absentee ballots by e-mail.

The ONA has done wonders increasing membership in the past few years but as we are all reminded it is a volunteer organization — there are two employees, including the executive director. All committee work and most of the outreach are done by members, some of whom are on the board, and some who aren't.

Seems to me the least we can do is vote, and I for one have no problem being shamed into it.