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Who They Are

As noted above, these respondents—and the ONA membership overall—tend to have the influence of traditional journalism.

Fully seven out of 10 (71%) work for websites connected to legacy media. Many (41%) work as and editor or content manager, while just under a quarter (23%) serve as directors or executives. Another 20% produce content of some sort.

Two-thirds (66%) have more than 11 years experience in a newsroom setting and 39% have more than 20 years experience. More than half, 54%, have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in journalism.

The most common salary range was over $90,000 (36%) while another 32% earn the next bracket down, $50,001-$90,000.

The staffing styles are split between being integrated with the legacy staff (51%) and working separately (48%). Just over a third of respondents (35%) have a full range of positions with specific job titles while another 36% report a small do-it-all staff. Just 10% work independently. But according to one member who oversees Web news content and displays, even staffing structures are murky. “Some days [our organization] operates as one staff, some days it’s two separate staffs. I don’t think any traditional news organization has a real handle on it.”


This report is based on responses from 292 members of the Online News Association in the United State and around the world. The survey was administered online in English by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). The surveys were completed from January 7 through February 14, 2009.

Requests for participation were sent to a total of 1,201 individuals via e-mail, with a link to an online Web address where the survey was hosted by PSRAI. Each respondent had a unique identification number with which he or she could log in to the survey.

Definition of Population Universe and Contact Procedures
The universe of potential respondents was defined as journalists who are members of the Online News Association. An individual news organization can and does have more than one ONA member on staff. The invitations were sent to the individual members and not to the organizations.

ONA members were first e-mailed on January 7, 2009, explaining the study and requesting their participation. E-mail messages included a link to the online survey as well as a unique password to gain entry into the Web instrument. Follow-up e-mail messages were sent on January 14, January 22 and February 3, to those who did not already complete the survey or did not refuse to participate.

Response Rates
A total of 292 members of the 1,201 member list completed the survey, or 24 percent.

More than one-third of those surveyed were employed by a traditional newspaper. More than 13 percent worked for an independent website, while another 13 percent were at a multi-platform network, such as or Magazines, portal websites and wire services were the workplaces of another 5 to 6 percent, respectively, of those who were sent the survey.

One-third of the survey recipients are editors or content managers; more than a quarter describe themselves as directors or managers of their organizations. Ten percent held positions as writers or reporters and another 10 percent were content producers.