Digital First’s ONA contest: And the winners are…

ONA13With the 20 finalists selected for the Digital First Represents ONA contest, we knew we were in for a competitive week of enthusiastic campaigning and tweeting. And the finalists did not disappoint.

After just five days of voting, we tallied more than 5,000 votes on the poll and more than 100 on Twitter. The outpouring of support for this group of finalists was encouraging to witness, and it made for a very close race. The top ten finished nearly neck-and-neck.

Most of the finalists launched campaigns aimed at their communities, friends and co-workers through email, social media and word-of-mouth. There was lots of that to go around. Many, many emails from various finalists and editors entered my inbox throughout the week.

Here are some of the public PSA’s from Twitter:


Some finalists made promises, as campaigning folks often will.


Some finalists published videos, memes and GIFs to help spread the word, not unlike campaign signs, buttons and posters.


Others looked to endorsements from editors, celebrities and even a U.S. senator to help get the word out about their campaign.

Some of these efforts resonated and equated to scores of votes, some didn’t. But many of these journalists proved they aren’t afraid to experiment, call upon others for help or, heck, have a little fun. And those are the qualities we were looking for when we set out with this contest. Perhaps more importantly, it showed how much support and respect many of these journalists have amongst their peers. Only five tallied the most votes, but everyone here was well represented. It was not a runaway contest dominated by folks from large newsrooms with large Twitter followings. All of the finalists are journalists we should all be paying attention to and learning from on a regular basis. Follow each of them on Twitter from this Twitter list.

So without further adieu, here are the five journalists you chose to represent Digital First Media at this fall’s ONA13 Conference (listed in alphabetical order by last name):

Annette Arrigucci – Digital media manager, El Paso Times
Twitter bio: “31. Work in the news. El Paso resident. Currently reading: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.”

Kimberly Guimarin – Senior editor, Los Angeles News Group
Twitter bio: “News junkie. Senior Editor for LANG. Mother of three, if you count my husband.”

Zack Harold – Statehouse reporter, Charleston Daily Mail
Twitter bio: “Statehouse reporter at @charleywest, lover of minutia, Sunday School teacher, musician, traveler, or 304-348-7939.”

Aimee Heckel – Features reporter, Boulder Daily Camera
Twitter bio: “Fashion and fitness columnist and features writer for the Daily Camera. Travel and family writer. Book editor. Freak.”

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis – Community engagement editor, The Morning Sun (Michigan)
Twitter bio: “Visual journalist, mother, teacher, community engager. Covering the central Michigan area at the Morning Sun, a DFM daily.”

Congratulations to Annette, Kimberly, Zack, Aimee and Lisa.

Look for their Digital First coverage of the ONA Conference this fall on social media and right here on to see what they learn and what ideas they can bring back for the rest of us.

Chris March

By Chris March

Chris March is the community engagement manager for Digital First Media and the editor of Inside Thunderdome. Contact him by email at or follow his shenanigans on Twitter: @marchmcfly.

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