CNPA 2017 Press Summit to Feature Inspiring Speakers, Practical Advice

Broadening perspectives, comparing strategies and taking home great ideas are all part of the May 18-20 CNPA Press Summit on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif.

The event, themed “Thriving Locally in the Digital Age,” will feature political and industry leaders speaking on the role of the media in today’s divisive environment, how successful organizations are adapting to a changing workforce and evolving business models, and opportunities to increase revenue and reader engagement.

Bill Johnson

“We set out to provide programming that would offer both great practical, take-home ideas for small and large newspapers and also stimulate thinking on bigger issues facing our industry and society,” said Summit Chairman Bill Johnson, Palo Alto Weekly publisher and CEO of Embarcadero Media.

A highlight will be a conversation on Friday between former Secretary of Defense, CIA Director and White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and former Los Angeles Times Editorial Page Editor Jim Newton.

“We’ve also made changes this year based on feedback from our members, including reducing registration prices, making attendance of more than two from the same newspaper free, and a money-back guarantee that the ideas you take away will more than pay for your time and money at the conference,” Johnson said.

The Summit opens on Thursday morning with remarks from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and questions from Los Angeles Times political writer Phil Willon, followed by a presentation about millennial employees in the workplace with Alec Levenson, a research scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations in the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Chris Hendricks, McClatchy’s vice president for Strategic Initiatives, will offer the Thursday luncheon keynote message.

Gabriel Kahn, director of the Future of Journalism program at the Annenberg Innovation Lab, USC School of Journalism, will start the afternoon with a look at how successful newspapers are evolving their business models.

To close the Thursday program is “Hot Ideas & Cold Beer,” an attendee show-and-tell session filled with practical ideas for growing revenue or readership. The session concludes with presentation of the annual Excellence in Advertising awards.

Thursday evening features a welcome reception, an optional small group dine-around at nearby Santa Monica restaurants and an improv comedy performance at the popular Westside Comedy Club.

Friday morning’s educational sessions will cover digital-agency services, audience development and how ad agencies are selling print and digital to their clients.

As noted above, Leon Panetta will be the featured luncheon speaker.

Afternoon sessions will cover California’s legalization of cannabis and its legal and fiscal ramifications, and a session on how to handle digital take-down requests.

Also on Friday afternoon, “10-Minute Success Stories” will feature publishers who have implemented successful revenue or other programs and the vendors who helped them.

Friday afternoon offers an optional Segway tour of Venice and a tour of the historic Santa Monica Pier.

Jonathan Gold, the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer, will be the Friday dinner speaker.

Saturday morning offers two media-law workshops regarding delays in public-records requests and how to access the emails of public officials.

Next is a session about in-depth reporting provided by CALmatters, a nonprofit news outlet based in Sacramento, followed by a discussion about how the Torrance Daily Breeze earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2015.

The Summit concludes with the annual CNPA Better Newspapers Contest Awards, preceded by a luncheon interview of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye by media attorney Rochelle Wilcox of Davis, Wright Tremaine.

CNPA is the trade association for more than 900 daily, weekly and campus newspaper companies in California. The conference will be held at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel.

For program and registration details, visit

Joe Wirt is director of affiliate relations at CNPA Services Inc., an association-management company in Sacramento, Calif.

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