Networking and special events at ONA23 

ONA conference attendee feedback is loud and clear, every year: You want to connect with one another! There are many ways to network with your colleagues and peers and make new friends and contacts in Philadelphia. Watch your email for opportunities to join special networking events open only to ONA23 attendees. Most events have limited space, and some target specific professionals within the ONA community. 

Special thanks to our ONA23 sponsors for helping to make these events happen. We will update this post as more opportunities are confirmed.


Attendees are welcome at two evening receptions on Wednesday, Aug. 23:

  • 5:15 p.m.: The NBCUniversal Networking Reception, sponsored by NBCUniversal, will be hosted on site at the Marriott starting. Invitations will be shared via email; all registered attendees will have the opportunity to RSVP for a drink ticket.
  • 6–8 p.m.: The “It’s a Philly Thing” party, hosted by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Ballard Spahr, will be held at the The Inquirer and The Lenfest Institute’s new office, overlooking historic Independence Mall. RSVP for It’s a Philly Thing.

After programming ends on Thursday, Aug. 24, all attendees should make their way to Franklin Hall (Fourth Floor) to meet the 2024-25 Board of Directors candidates and explore the exhibitors and recruiters on the Midway as we kick off the ONA23 Welcome Reception. The reception, co-hosted by Knight Foundation, Google and YouTube, will feature local music from the Brassanity Hornz Band and THE FRIDGE, a collective of local musicians within the SNACKTIME musical group. Attendees will also circulate in the main ballroom (Fifth Floor) to nosh on Philly treats and take souvenir photos at the 360-degree photo booth. No RSVP required just show your badge.

There will be two nighttime receptions on Friday, Aug. 25. Invites will go out via email to registered attendees; check the schedule for details.

  • The RJI Happy Hour, sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, requires an RSVP to attend and will have an open bar.
  • The Amplify Your Live Events with Short-Form Video Reception, supported by Snapstream, requires RSVPs for a drink ticket. Space is limited but all are welcome to stop by!

Join us for dinner, networking and a special presentation as we close out ONA23 on Saturday, Aug. 26, by celebrating the 2023 Online Journalism Awards finalists. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with peers, get your photo by the step-and-repeat and honor the best of digital journalism. This event, supported by the Hewlett Foundation, requires a separate ticket, which you can purchase when registering for a conference pass. You can also purchase a standalone ticket through the registration portal if you are not attending ONA23. If you didn’t purchase a ticket when you first registered for ONA23, see your confirmation email for details on how to add one.


There will be several sponsor lounges open during ONA23, including private rooms on the third floor, as well as open lounge spaces in the fourth and fifth floor foyers. Explore the ONA23 map and stop by for swag, snacks and education.

Plug in and chat

If you are in town early on Tuesday, Aug. 22, for the conference and need a spot to work, has offered its offices at The Curtis, 601 Walnut St., as a co-working space that day. Contact Julie Zeglen for details.

During the conference, head to the ONA23 Networking Cafe in Franklin Hall (Fourth Floor) to recharge your device, set a destination for a meeting or just take a break. This space open Thursday-Saturday will have tables, chairs, power strips and USB plugs.  News Revenue Hub is also offering a serene coworking space, open to all attendees Wednesday-Saturday, in Room 405 on the fourth floor (first-come, first to a seat!).

Also in Franklin Hall: Many of the conference’s sponsors, exhibitors and recruiters will be offering cocktails, sharing snacks and giving other surprises on Thursday and Friday.

Cool off and cheer on

On Thursday, Aug. 24, 1–3 p.m., the Popalong cart, a collaboration by Lil Pop Shop and Weckerly’s Ice Cream, will arrive on site with frozen treats. This delicious event supported by the Democracy Fund will be hosted in the Franklin Hall foyer, just outside the entrance to the Midway.

Want to head out? The St. Louis Cardinals will play the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Aug. 25, at Citizens Bank Park, and we’ve secured discounted tickets. Book your MLB tickets in the ONA23 sections: 108, 109, 110, 111, 136, 137, 138 and 139.  The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau also offers discounts on activities and meals around the city as part of its Discover Deals Philadelphia site.

Partner events

Several of our partners will be hosting parties, receptions and happy hours in the Marriott and nearby throughout ONA23. Some are invitation-only (check your spam filter!) and others are open to all, including CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism party at the host hotel’s fancy bowling alley on Friday night, as well as the Global Press event and the WURD Radio and URL Media Cocktail Party (join the waitlist) on Wednesday evening. Others are targeting certain parts of the ONA community for lunches and breakfasts. Space is limited so if you get an invite to something that interests you, sign up fast. Check the schedule for details.

Want to explore on your own? Philadelphia is home to the Pen & Pencil Club — the country’s oldest continually operating journalism club. It  is members-only, but open to any ONA attendees on Friday night (bring your badge!).