The sessions and presenters that provide more than a dozen reasons to come to Chicago October 6-8


Keynote from a newspaper pioneer: Insights from Mi-Ai Parrish

Presented by Mi-Ai Parrish, Sue Clark-Johnson Professor in Media Innovation and Leadership at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Media Communication at Arizona State University.  

 A unique opportunity to hear from a trailblazing editor, journalist and digital strategist, reflecting on a career that includes being the first female publisher of The Kansas City Star, the first minority to serve as publisher of The Arizona Republic and the first Korean-American publisher in mainstream media.   

How the newspaper Battle of New Orleans was won

Presented by Judi Terzotis, president, and Peter Kovacs, editor, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

In 2012, when Advance Publications reduced its print publication of The Times-Picayune from seven days to three, The Advocate, 80 miles north in Baton Rouge, moved into the city with a seven-day print New Orleans edition. Within three years, The Advocate overtook The Times-Picayune as Louisiana’s largest newspaper, and in May 2019, Advance sold the paper to The Advocate’s owners. In this session, the newspaper’s top executives will detail the business and editorial strategies that led its success.

Investing in growth: The Berkshire Eagle story

Presented by Fredric D. Rutberg, publisher and co-owner, The Berkshire Eagle

When retired judge Fredric D. Rutberg and three other local investors bought The Berkshire Eagle and its affiliated publications, the daily had been weakened by years of cost-cutting. Rutberg vowed to take a different tack: Hiring more reports, increasing the local newshole and giving subscribers more for their money. In this session, he’ll review the results of this investment strategy.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s strategy: To save the paper   give up paper

Presented by Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and CEO, WEHCO Media

Faced in 2018 with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s first money-losing year in more than two decades, Walter E. Hussman Jr. decided to take a bold step: Convince print subscribers to switch to digital readers, cutting production and delivery costs. Democrat-Gazette digital subscriptions now come with an iPad to hasten the conversion. Hear the early results of this audacious plan.

The case for keeping public notices where they belong   in the newspaper

Presented by Jake Seaton, founder and CEO, and Kevin King, enotice

Protecting public notice revenue is a never-ending battle. Over the past decade, an average of 150 proposals have been introduced per year by state and local officials to change public notice laws. Often, these legislative efforts threaten the vital role newspapers play in distributing notice to their communities. This session will unpack trends in public notice legislation across the country, discuss breakthrough advocacy strategies, and explore modern solutions in the fight to protect public notices.

Creating and selling   niche publications that are sustainable revenue generators

Presented by Matt Coen, co-founder and president, Second Street, and Ryan Dohrn, president, Brain Swell Media

This session explores publications that go far beyond one-off “special sections,” but instead can provide year-round revenue streams. Learn how to evaluate what kind of niche publication will work in your market, which readers and advertisers to target and how to successfully sell your new product as a high-margin earner.

Funding your newsroom, and even individual journalists, from non-traditional sources

Presented by Jennifer Preston, vice president/journalism, Knight Foundation; John Hinds, president and CEO, News Media Canada; and Fraser Nelson, vice president/business innovation, The Salt Lake Tribune

With newspapers’ traditional advertising revenue in decline, if not a freefall, publishers are looking to new ways to fund the journalism vital to a democratic society. This panel looks at the latest responses for this need for funding, from a foundation that is the leading U.S. funder of journalism to the Canadian federal government. Earlier this year, the Knight Foundation committed $300 million over five years to help strengthen journalism and research into news technology. The Canadian federal government has created a $600 million program that includes money for a Local Journalism Initiative that News Media Canada is setting up. It will provide funding to employ as many as 100 journalists.

Don’t write off single-copy: How GateHouse Media is bolstering store and newsrack sales

Presented by Rick Dumas, senior director of single-copy sales, GateHouse Media

GateHouse Media is super-charging its single-copy sales program with a nationwide promotion  that launched last spring and that will be followed up with further sweepstakes that not only jump-start sales but allow the papers to better know their readers by collecting names, emails, phone numbers and birthdays. Hear the early results of these promotions from GateHouse’s senior director of single-copy sales.

Thinking big: Finding success with small market weeklies

Presented by Jim Stevenson, owner and publisher, The Spinal Column Media Group

This session details how a small weekly newspaper in the suburban Detroit market was able to launch a new weekly at the urging of local businesses and the chamber of commerce. The community was upset over the merging of a corporately owned paper that was no longer serving the needs of the community and reached out to get a new paper to serve their specific community. Learn from the success of this small company that knows how to super-serve its readers and advertisers.

You’ve got revenue! Making money with email marketing

Presented by Stacey Hill, executive vice president, chief operating officer, NPG Newspapers, Inc., St. Joseph, Mo., and Emily Walsh, chief digital officer and publisher, Observer Media Group Inc., Sarasota, Fla.

 Email has become one of the major ways local SMBs market to current and new customers. This session looks at the best methods to deploy in order to provide local businesses with the most effective solutions. Learn how email marketing can build audience and reach new advertisers. You’ll learn what’s working in email today, and who is making money with it.

What the Sales Team of the Future Looks Like

Presented by Laurie Kahn, president & CEO, Media Staffing Network

Salespeople are becoming the hardest category to recruit. With 65 million Baby Boomers retiring in the next 10 years, you’d better have a plan on how to build a stronger sales staff. From team selling to compensation ideas, this session will show you how to get the most out of each person and how to start building organically to staff your sales department.

Retaining digital subscribers: Lessons from the Facebook Accelerator Program

Presented by Rachael Gleason, senior manager of audience/engagement, Hearst Newspapers

Facebook invested $3 million in the launch of the Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, a three-month pilot program to help select news organizations gain more digital subscribers both on and off its social media platform. The program included training on digital subscription marketing with specific strategies and tactics. This session, led by participants in Accelerator, will reveal what was learned from this program.

What’s the latest on the newspaper industry’s campaign to get a fair revenue arrangement with digital giants?

Presented by Danielle Coffey, senior vice president, strategic initiatives, and counsel, News Media Alliance

The “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” was introduced in April by the Democratic House Antitrust chairman and the ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation would give newspapers and other news publishers of online content a two-year antitrust “safe harbor” to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google for better business arrangements. The News Media Alliance’s Danielle Coffey explains the legislation and gives an update on its progress through Congress.

What we learned from the Digital Subscriptions Lab

Presented by Ken Harding, senior managing director, FTI Consulting Inc., and PJ Browning, president, newspaper division, Evening Post Publishing, Charleston, S.C.

The Digital Subscriptions Lab was a six-month program at a select group of newspapers of various sizes to find a sustainable business model for the newspaper industry. A partnership of FTI, the Google News Initiative and Local Media Association, the Lab amassed a mix of quantitative and qualitative market research, examining existing and potential reader segments to better understand the addressable market, readers' willingness to pay and more.  At the time of its launch, FTI called the Lab a “unique, strategic partnership that will provide publishers with the opportunity to learn from each other and enable us to develop a new digital subscription model blueprint for the entire industry.” Hear the results of this program in this session.

Maintaining a high valuation at your newspaper: Brokers’ perspectives

Presented by John Thomas Cribb, associate, Cribb, Greene & Cope; Sara April, partner, Dirks, Van Essen, Murray & April; and Julie Bergman, vice president/newspaper division, Grimes, McGovern & Associates

When buyers look at your newspaper properties, what do they see? You’ll find out from the experts at the industry’s principal mergers and acquisition firms. They will provide insights into what potential buyers are looking for in a newspaper property, what those thinking of selling can do to make their property more appealing, and what valuations sellers might expect in this market.

Habit forming: What Northwestern’s Medill School discovered about the real keys to sustainable digital subscriptions

Presented by Tim Franklin, senior associate dean and head of the Local News Initiative, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communication, Northwestern University

Extensive research and data analysis by the Local News Initiative at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications identified reader habit as vital to retaining online subscribers but they also encountered some surprises along the way. For instance, subscribers who read a lot of stories and read them more deeply were not more likely to keep their subscriptions. This session will detail what really works to cultivate readers willing to pay for your valuable digital news content.


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