Volunteer Opportunities

The Online Journalism Awards (OJAs) are a great way to connect with other talented colleagues and get a behind-the-scenes look at some truly inspirational journalism projects.

We consistently receive feedback that contributing to the OJAs is a fulfilling way to connect with and give back to the digital journalism community while lifting up outstanding work. Here are three ways to get involved.

1. Join the review process as a screener

A group of 150+ volunteers serve as the first set of eyes to evaluate submissions. Over three weeks, screeners review an average of 25-30 submissions across a variety of OJA categories. Their scores and comments ultimately help determine which submissions move to the semi-finalist round of review, where a panel of judges will select finalists and winners.

We look for volunteers with a wide array of expertise, backgrounds and perspectives across the field. If you have experience in reporting, video, audio, data visualization, product, editing, audience engagement, technical innovation and beyond, we encourage you to apply.

Applications for the 2024 OJAs will be accepted April 4 through May 9. Learn more about becoming a screener.

2. Serve as a judge

OJA finalists and winners are selected by a jury of peers. Senior-level professionals working in digital journalism review the semi-finalist submissions, as determined by screeners, and convene to discuss and determine finalists and winners for their assigned categories.

Judges are selected through an application process or by invitation from ONA’s Board of Directors. We encourage aspiring judges to first serve as a screener to gain an understanding of the OJA review process. Past screeners are considered strong candidates for serving on a judging panel.

Over three weeks, judges review 15-30 submissions for categories in which they have extensive knowledge and expertise. Previous judges have said about their experience –

“It’s always a highlight of my year to help judge the Online Journalism Awards. The breadth of the work and the people behind it all are inspirational.”

– Michael Bolden, Executive Director and CEO, American Press Institute

“Being asked to judge [OJA] entries is not only an honour, but I found it’s also highly rewarding to meet and discuss with the other jury members AND you get to take a very close look at la crème de la crème of the past year’s digital journalism.”

– Thomas Seymat, Editorial Projects and Development Manager at Euronews


3. Volunteer at the OJA ceremony

We will celebrate the accomplishments and impressive work of the community at the OJA ceremony and banquet on Sept. 20 in Atlanta. The event includes an announcement of winners and closes ONA’s annual conference. Applications are open until May 30.

Typical responsibilities:

  • Collect tickets for entry to the banquet
  • Help attendees find dinner seating
  • Direct award winners on and off the stage
  • Hand out trophies to winners
  • Repackage trophies to travel home with winners

OJA banquet volunteers receive a complimentary pass to the ONA conference and a ticket to the OJA banquet.

Check out the FAQs to learn more about the OJAs. For additional questions, contact ONA’s Director of Awards and Community Resources, Hollie Schultz, at