Online News Association

Candidate for 2013 ONA Board of Directors :
Voting Link

Kathy Gill
Lecturer, University of Washington
(Academic Member)

I’ve been online since the early 1990s, having discovered CompuServe before Marc Andreessen launched Mosaic at the University of Illinois in 1993. For two decades, I have lived at the intersection of communication and digital technology, teaching in the field since the mid-1990s. I currently teach undergraduate, graduate and continuing education courses at the University of Washington. I helped create the web design program at Seattle Central Community College; was the second hire in the UW Master of Communication in Digital Media program; and am on the advisory board of a new digital publishing certificate for UW continuing education.

Since 2008, my students and I have fact-checked statewide initiative and referenda claims, a project that serves as an example of citizen journalism as a public service. For the 2012 election cycle, students are writing for our website,, as well as a UW/Seattle Times collaboration, UW Election Eye. My freelance work includes writing about U.S.politics for, one of the top-10 visited Web content sites on the Internet. Currently I write about politics and technology at TheModerateVoice and occasionally write for PBS MediaShift. I am also a speaker and trainer on economics, social media and emerging technologies.

ONA and Industry Involvement
For the 2011 and 2012 ONA conferences, I was/am part of the live blogging-tweeting team, and in 2006 I worked with Jody Brannon on the educator’s program. I’m also active with ONA online. Locally, I am active in SPJ (conducting workshops) and our ONA/SPJ meet-ups; I also conduct workshops for local media. I write occasionally for online publications like PBS MediaShift, GeekWire and TheModerateVoice. I am on the board of Public Eye Northwest, a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on government transparency; a primary project is Public Data Ferret which provides a repository of state data and publications.

Vision for ONA
Once-upon-a-time, I was a non-profit association executive and active on several national boards. In the 10-or-so years that I have been “”an academic,”” I have focused my volunteer efforts on local, communication- and/or student-related organizations. It’s time to again devote energy to a national cause, one that I jokingly tell my students goes back to my undergrad days. After I began putting our bi-weekly student newspaper (cold type!) to bed, I learned that I had printer’s ink running through my veins.

This national cause, as I see it, is acts of public or civic journalism. It’s the broccoli of the media world, essential to a functional democracy but a distant culinary second to ice cream (entertainment), candy (sports) and soft drinks (gossip). In an era of a la cart news, how do we allocate time, energy and talent to long-form or analysis that helps citizens make informed decisions at the ballot box? Heck, how do we get their attention?

I believe that my eclectic background — government and public affairs, journalism and education, economics and technology — helps me see possibilities that might be tucked away in the periphery of the specialist’s world. I also believe that my years as an association executive contribute to my productivity as a board member.

The future of news delivery is the digital personal device. I want ONA to be the place that nurtures professionals who understand this challenge, whether digital first, digital only or digital native. I’m not saying that print will go away or that we’ll abandon our televisions and radios. I am saying that their place in the delivery hierarchy is irevokably disrupted.

I want ONA to help journalism and communication programs around the country prepare students for a world that is changing as much in the four years that they are in college as it did in their K-12 years. Academia will be disrupted by digital technology; after all, its primary product is information. Let us be the organization that shapes the result for communication in general and journalism in particular. And in the process, lets teach introductory journalism to everyone, helping prepare citizens for their “”there’s an airplane in the Hudson”” moment.

Finally, I want ONA to be the place for skills development, fundraising ideas, business model experiments, new storytelling narrative. We are well on our way to this goal given our partnership with Poynter, for example.

A non-journalism friend asked me why I wanted to run for the ONA board. I told her that I’m a change agent, and I want to help shape the direction of an industry that I believe in at the core of my being. That is the hat that I will wear if elected to the Board.

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