ONA23 Midway: What not to miss

The Midway — ONA’s exhibit area focused on news technology, education and fellowships, career opportunities, reporting tools and more — is celebrating 10 years as a part of the annual conference. This space is located in Franklin Hall on the 4th Floor of the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown and is home to more than 50 tech firms, academic institutions, nonprofits and news organizations. Exhibits will be open here Thursday and Friday; the foyer lounges open on Wednesday and meeting/private lounge spaces will mostly be open Wednesday-Friday.

If you can’t find the group you are looking for, other sponsors and supporters also have lounges and meeting rooms on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors of the hotel, and a few of our partners will not have booth space at ONA23 but you can connect with them via their virtual presence. Midway programming — featuring exclusive content for some of these supporters — will be offered across all four days of ONA23.

A few highlights from the floor:

  • Microsoft will be serving cookies and offering a variety of swag including cooling towels (excellent for this week’s weather!), reporter pads, lip balm and mint duos, plantable sprout pencils and pocket utility tools.
  • Echobox has a sweet tooth and will  be serving lollipops and cupcakes from Philadelphia favorite Tiffany’s Bakery.
  • Start-Up Alley participant Forth will offer hand sanitizer bottles and Stylebot is giving away bamboo wireless chargers with every meeting (register here). Learn more about other start-ups at ONA23.
  • NewzDash will be raffling a camera drone and offering tote bags.
  • Need caffeine? Letterhead will be hosting a coffee hour on Thursday from 1-2 p.m., and is also hosting an airplane making contest on Thursday and Friday! Longest flight lands an AirPod Pro — winners will be announced at the top of the Newsletter Meetup: Newsletter Innovation & The Changing Landscape, on Friday at 4 p.m.
  • Spectrum News is offering social profile audits with their digital strategist on Thursday from 4-5pm and Friday from 12:30-1:30 pm.
  • Come support local public radio: WHYY News will have notebooks and stickers on hand.
  • Parse.ly — part of the WordPress VIP family — goes green with its “Grow Kits,” little ceramic planters with parsley seeds to grow and a wooden stand.
  • Report for America will help you stock up on branded notebooks and pens.
  • Reynolds Journalism Institute has branded socks, power banks and holographic stickers to share.
  • More to come!

Log in to explore the maps

The ONA23 Networking Lounge is located on the left-hand side of Franklin Hall. Head here to recharge your device, as a destination for a meeting or just take a break. This space – open Thursday-Saturday – will have tables, chairs, power strips and USB plugs. Need more quiet? News Revenue Hub is also offering a serene coworking space, open to all attendees Wednesday-Saturday, in Room 405 on the 4th Floor.

Franklin Hall is also home to four programming rooms (the Franklin rooms), hosting sessions Thursday-Saturday. Stop by Midway booths and tables on your way in or out!

The ONA23 Welcome Reception for the first time will start with a Sip and See reception in the Midway. Enjoy drinks and light appetizers, and experience the uniquely Philly sounds of Brassanity Hornz Band. This horn section, founded by trumpeter Kevin D. Woods, has been featured on gospel singer Tye Tribbett’s song “Get Up.”

Outside of the Grand Ballrooms, stop by Canva’s “creative juices” lounge on the 5th Floor near registration and create a custom label for your beverage from Wednesday-Friday. And cool off with local ice cream from the Popalong cart, a collaboration by Lil Pop Shop and Weckerly’s Ice Cream on Thursday afternoon from 1-3 p.m., just outside the entrance to the Midway in the Franklin Hall foyer.  Special thanks to the Democracy Fund for supporting these chilly treats.

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is also hosting events, conversations and meeting space in their lounge, located in Room 309-310.

The Knight Foundation Lounge in rooms 407-409 will include these activities and open lounge times, accessible by all attendees:

Thursday, August 24

9 am – Noon: Open Lounge with Refreshments

Noon – 2:00pm: One-on-One with Jim Brady: Transforming Newsroom Infrastructure & Local News Entrepreneurship

  • Lunch Buffet and Fireside Chat
  • Moderated by Mary Walter-Brown, CEO, News Revenue Hub

2:30 – 4:30 pm: News Startup Fund: Reflections on opportunities and barriers in local news entrepreneurship

  • Afternoon Snack

Friday, August 25 

9:30 – 11:30am: Five free AI projects for your newsroom

  • Breakfast Buffet
  • AP’s Local News AI initiative will unveil five projects that have been in development with local newsrooms for the past year. The projects include public meeting transcription and keyword alerts, automated weather alerts in Spanish, automated police blotter items, email sorting and classification and video summarization

11:30am – 4:00pm: Open Lounge with Refreshments

8 – 10:00pm: Knight Foundation’s #LoveLocalNews party: Honoring Mandy Jenkins

  • Toast and celebrate Mandy Jenkins, former ONA Board President, beloved mentor and leader, and a trailblazer in digital journalism

Saturday, August 26

10:00am – Noon:

  • Mimosa and Bloody Mary Brunch
  • AI and Local News Workshops with ‘Partnerships on AI’ and ‘Big Local News’
Noon – 5:00pm: Open Lounge with Refreshments