Mega-Conference Brings Innovation and Insight to Orlando

  • Carina Wingel, marketing director, of Content That Works

Nearly 600 newspaper executives and 70 vendors attended the 2017 Key Executives Mega-Conference in Orlando, Fla. Feb 23-25. The annual conference is co-sponsored jointly by the Inland Press Association, Local Media Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.

This year’s three-day event featured sessions led by Rick Edmonds of The Poynter Institute, Corey Elliott of Borrell Associates and Andy Yost and Kevin Gentzel of Gannett, among others as well.

Program coordinator Carol Hudler noted that while the conference played host to “a lot of great sessions,” the most exciting presentation for her was hearing how the Washington Post had grown its national and global footprint during a presentation from the paper’s managing editor of digital, Emilio Garcia Ruiz.

“It’s refreshing to see how much can be accomplished with a strong strategy and a user-focused approach,” Hudler said. “We all can learn from their work and their success.”

Calkins Media, publisher of the Bucks County Courier Times in Pennsylvania, received this year’s Mega-Innovation Award for the Times’ 24/7 video streaming channel.  The video stream is available as a mobile app and through devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. It can also be accessed through the paper’s website.

“While I think the product we created is fantastic, I was surprised in winning the award. All of the entries were great, so to be recognized was an honor,” said Jake Volcsko, director of digital media and marketing at Calkins Media. “We have a great team working on this product, and this helps validate their hard work.”

In the near future, Calkins Media plans to add 24-hour channels at The Intelligencer in Doylestown, Pa. and Burlington County Times in Willingboro, N.J.

“Innovation isn’t something we say we’re doing, it’s the driving force behind the products and services we build,” Volcsko said. “And sure, this gives us great products, but it also helps to build a more collaborative and creative culture in the organization.”

By the end of the conference, newspaper executives walked away with some new ideas to bring back to their respective organizations.

“I’m always revitalized after the Mega-Conference,” said Mark Cohen, publisher of the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. “Meeting new people and catching up with old friends in the business is always one of my highlights. I got plenty of great ideas so I plan to pick a few and move forward with them.”

Said Matt Miller, vice president and chief revenue officer for the Observer Publishing Company: “I really enjoy the Mega-Conference because it exposes me to newspapers and vendors doing so many new and unique things. Many times it also serves as a spark for long lost ideas that need to work their way back on to my to-do list. I always come back with a long list of ideas and this year was no different.”

The 2018 Mega-Conference will take place in San Diego Feb. 26-28. For more information, visit

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