2018 Mega-Conference Highlights ‘Stronger and Smarter’ Future for Newspaper Industry

Newspaper industry leaders from around the world flocked to San Diego Feb. 26-28 for one of the biggest Mega-Conferences in years. More than 700 newspaper executives and exhibitors attended the show in order to get the scoop on the latest industry technology, the state of newspapers, and how to forge a way into the future.

This year’s Mega-Conference was hosted by the Inland Press Association, Local Media Association, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, the News Media Alliance, and in association with the California News Publishers Association.

Kicking off the event was keynote speaker Ken Doctor, whose presentation titled “Destination 2020: How We Get There Stronger and Smarter” set the tone with details of what bigger newspapers are doing right and what it takes for smaller publications to garner the same success. Innovation could be felt buzzing throughout the session room and spilling across the tradeshow floor.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser won this year’s Mega-Innovation Award. Pictured is David Kennedy, chief revenue officer.

The conference also crowned the winner of its Innovation Award. The recipient, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, won for its forward thinking that led to the creation and successful execution of a Digital Billboard Network, which reaped $1 million in revenue in its first year. The other finalists for the award included Block Communications, Shaw Media, and WEHCO Media.

Out on the exhibition floor, companies showcased new technology and prowess as digital and print media innovators. Attendees perused the more than 70 booths, searching for inspiration or the next big thing that could catapult their publication to the next level. GateHouse Live incorporated acrobatic performances at their booth, which caught the attention of many attendees. The high-flying and skilled acrobatic performers at the booth spoke volumes to the ingenuity of ideas discussed at the conference. It symbolized how so much of the newspaper industry is has transformed far beyond the print products of yesterday.

Back inside the sessions, innovation continued to brew with topics like “Investing in Newspapers in 2018,” where top newspaper executives discussed strategies to maximize investments with a focus on digital subscriptions. A session with Facebook’s director of news products Alex Hardiman broke down the effects of the company’s new algorithm change and how her team was now prioritizing local news. In total, more than 40 presentations were made at Mega-Conference, each providing a window into fresh, new, and bold ideas.

“This year’s Key Executives Mega-Conference, our eighth annual and best yet gathering, smashed our previous attendance records, and was met with resounding approval from both newspaper executives and our sponsors and exhibitors,” said Jay Horton, the show’s executive producer. “The 2018 Mega-Conference stages showcased the top people and topics for the industry, with the best of the best sharing their experiences. From everyone at Inland, the LMA, the News Media Alliance and SNPA, we are very grateful for our speakers’ time and expertise, and for everyone who travelled from near and far to learn and network together.”

News Media Alliance president and CEO David Chavern added, “We were delighted to come together with SNPA, Inland and LMA this year on Mega-Conference. We were very happy with the turnout and with the program quality, providing outstanding insights and ideas to our members throughout the meeting. The new research presented by the American Press Institute (API) on paths to subscription was really insightful and arguably the most valuable content that members could take away from the meeting and use in their subscription efforts. Another highlight was seeing print and digital teams sharing ideas and discussing what works on both platforms, particularly in terms of revenue growth. Print is still a vital part of the news delivery mix, and it was good to see that point being driven home throughout the conference.”

The 2019 Mega-Conference is scheduled to be in Las Vegas, Nev. Feb 25-27 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. For more information, visit mega-conference.com.

Click here for more photos from this year’s Mega-Conference.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include quotes from Jay Horton and David Chavern.

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Published: March 2, 2018

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