Mega-Conference agenda


View the full conference agenda!  It's packed full of the topics that are top of mind with media professionals. Each session will deliver the latest information that you can take home and implement in your organization. From advertising and reader revenue to recruiting and building culture, the Mega-Conference will deliver results.

And, don't miss the opening session on Monday morning!  Goggle's head of Local News, Global Partnerships, joins two media executives for a candid discussion about the future of local journalism.

This program is subject to change.

Sunday, April 10

3-5 p.m. Meetings will be scheduled for America's Newspapers committee meetings
5:30-6:30 p.m.

OPENING RECEPTION in the Town Square (Griffin A, B & C), followed by dinner on your own
Opening Reception sponsored by Brainworks Software

Monday, April 11

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast in the Town Square
(Griffin A, B & C)
Sponsored by
8:30-9:30 a.m.

Welcome and Keynote:
Media Leaders and Google Discuss Paths to a Sustainable Future
(Griffin D & E)

The news industry’s relationship with Google and other technology companies is a critical issue impacting the future of local journalism. In the opening session, the Mega-Conference welcomes Chris Jansen of Google, along with P.J. Browning of The Post and Courier (Charleston) and Conan Gallaty of the Tampa Bay Times, for an open discussion about Google’s relationship with the news industry and what can be done to improve the state of local news.

  • Chris Jansen, head of local news, global partnerships, Google
  • P.J. Browning, president and publisher, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.
  • Conan Gallaty, CEO and president, Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • Facilitated by Dean Ridings, CEO, America’s Newspapers
9:30-10:15 a.m.

Eyes on 2025: Actions to Secure a Sustainable Future (Griffin D & E)

As newspapers continue to evolve and explore new business models, what actions should industry leaders be taking today to secure future success?  David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, leads a lively discussion of senior executives exploring where the industry is going and what needs to happen today to ensure future success.

  • David Chavern, president and CEO, News Media Alliance
  • Tony Hunter, chairman and CEO, McClatchy
  • Jeff Johnson, president, Hearst Newspapers
  • Donna Hall, publisher, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Leonard Woolsey, president, Southern Newspapers, Inc., and president and publisher, The Daily News, Galveston, Texas
10:15-10:45 a.m. Break in the Town Square
10:45-11:45 a.m.

Newsroom of the Future (Griffin D & E)

The past few years have proved the importance of quality journalism in local markets.  Newsrooms have adapted to shifting conditions, news cycles and audience needs.  This session will take a deep dive into how every newsroom can stay current and how to address the changing needs of employees and readers in the new world. 

  • Julie Anderson, executive editor, Orlando Sentinel
  • Neil Brown, president, The Poynter Institute
  • Rob Curley, editor, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.
  • Steve Waldman, president and co-founder, Report for America
11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch in the Town Square
Sponsored by Bentkey Ventures
12:45-2:15 p.m.

Innovation is happening at all levels of the industry as new, and familiar, businesses are developing solutions for media companies to improve their efficiency and grow their bottom line.  This fast-paced session provides attendees the opportunity to meet in a no-pressure, small group environment with a variety of companies that will provide overviews of how their products tackle some of today’s challenges.  This popular session — which is only open to newspaper attendees and the table hosts — will provide valuable information to develop strategic plans. 

The roundtables will be hosted by:

  • AffinityX
  • Arrandale Ventures
  • CitySpark
  • Column
  • Creative Circle Media Solutions
  • Google
  • Lineup
  • Mather Economics
  • Newzware - ICANON
  • Seyfarth Shaw
  • Software Consulting Services (SCS)
  • VoicePort
  • Zette

Click here to read about the topics for discussion at the above tables — and think about which six you will attend.

2:15-3:15 p.m.


The Google News Initiative
(Griffin D & E)

The Google News Initiative has worked with hundreds of local properties to build a more sustainable, diverse and innovative news ecosystem.  This session will highlight the digital tools, training and resources that any market can use to find, verify and tell engaging stories that generate higher reader engagement and revenue.  Plus, the Google team will highlight findings from site audits from Mega-Conference attendees. 

  • Nicole Rocchio, news consumer insights lead, Google News Initiative
  • Tina Xiao, digital growth program manager, Google News Initiative

Always Money Makers:
The Latest in Events, Contests and Promotions

Events, contests and promotions are more effective than ever at generating reader engagement and new advertising revenue.  This session will focus on the latest trends in events as the world returns to normal and highlight successful promotions and contests that generate incremental revenue.  Attendees are sure to come away with new ideas that will more than pay for the conference!

  • Jay Horton, president, digital media, WEHCO Media, Inc.
  • Vince Johnson, publisher, The Sumter Item, and group publisher, Gulf Coast Media
  • Mike Martoccia, vice president/digital, Adams Publishing Group
  • Facilitated by Julie Foley, senior manager of customer success, Upland Software
3:15-3:45 p.m. Break in the Town Square
3:45-4:30 p.m.


Mega Innovations: The Award Winners!
Results from the iPad Project
(Griffin D & E)
The team from the 2020 Mega-Innovation Award winner  — the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — will provide an update on their groundbreaking project to provide iPads to their subscribers across Arkansas.  As they enter the third year of the project they will share some results and learning that can be applied to future projects.

  • Jay Horton, president, digital media, WEHCO Media, Inc.
  • Mark Lane, president, WEHCO Newspapers

National Digital Ad Agencies Discuss Solutions that Work

National digital advertising agencies have been on the forefront of developing digital solutions for national and regional advertisers.  This session will spotlight the latest digital services that advertisers are looking for and discuss how newspapers can get more involved in this critical revenue source. 

  • Andrew Becks, chief strategy and innovation officer, 301 Digital Media
  • Colleen Brewer, director of national sales, Lee Enterprises
  • Alé Gibson, supervisor, integrated planning, Resolution Agency
4:30-5:15 p.m. And, the winner is ... (Griffin D & E)
The three finalists for this year’s Mega-Innovation Award will talk about their entries and how your organization can learn and grow from their projects.
5:15 p.m. Adjourn
Dinner on your own

Tuesday, April 12

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast in the Town Square
Sponsored by Mather Economics
8:30-9:30 a.m. TWO OPTIONS:

Protecting Public Notices: What's Next? (Griffin D & E)

Recent legislation in Florida has put publication of public notices in jeopardy, significantly impacting local newspapers' and citizens' right to know.  This session will highlight what is happening in Florida and the steps other states can take to engage governments and protect public notices.

  • Jim Fogler, president, Florida Press Association
  • Bill Barker, founder and CEO, Barker Strategic Solutions, LLC
  • Sam Morley, general counsel, Florida Press Association

Influencers & Podcasts: The New News Publishing Imperative to Grow Local Audience & Revenue
Sponsored by Editor & Publisher Magazine (E&P)

Unless you are completely void of the type of media being consumed by your local 26- to 41-year-old “millennials” and the soon-to-be super-consuming 10- to 25-year-old “Gen Zs,” you know that the people and platforms who “influence” these key demographics, via video and audio have become a huge part of the media landscape, as well as generating over $16 billion in advertising revenue last year. But how can your local legacy brand enter this critical space?

In this dynamic session hosted by Editor & Publisher Magazine, newspapers will reveal how they’ve developed personalities who deliver innovative content that has grown new local audiences, opened new lucrative revenue streams and helped positively position their legacy brands for decades to come.

Key case studies will come from Connect Savannah (an alternative weekly paper in Georgia), The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, The West Orange (Florida) Times & Observer and Southern Community Newspapers. Other media companies' successful deployment strategies will be featured as well. Attendees will leave with real-world, actionable advice and takeaways, to begin implementing similar initiatives within their own operations immediately.

  • Aaron J. Kotarek, senior vice president, audience & operations, Oahu Publications, Inc.
  • Erica Baskin, publisher, Connect Savannah
  • Lauren Wolverton, marketing consultant and co-host of Connect Savannah's “What are we Doing?"
  • Jamie Burton, marketing consultant and co-host of Connect Savannah's “What are we Doing?"
  • Robert McCray, vice president/advertising, Southern Community Newspapers
  • Cyndi Gustafson, sales manager, Orange Observer
  • Austin Arthur, host of West Orange (Florida) Times & Observer's "On The Go"
  • Darien Southerland, BG Podcast Network and host/producer of Gwinnett Daily Post Podcast in Georgia
  • Moderated by Mike Blinder, publisher of E&P
9:30-10:30 a.m.


Becoming a Non-Traditional Media Company — 
from an Audience Perspective
(Griffin D & E)

Diversification strategies are critical to a local media company’s future success.  This session will provide practical solutions to help any size market evolve to a stronger multi-media organization.  From audience-driven programs designed to grow reader revenue from the digital and print side, to opening new channels like video and podcasting, you’ll get valuable insights to build strategies for the future. 

  • Aaron J. Kotarek, senior vice president, audience and operations, Honolulu Star-Advertiser / Oahu Publications, Inc.

Advocating for Local Newspapers (Cardinal)

Learn about the latest advocacy efforts to protect local journalism: the LJSA, the JCPA, what the future holds for legislation and how publishers can get involved to help protect local journalism.

  • Danielle Coffey, EVP and general counsel, News Media Alliance
  • Alan Fisco, president & CFO, The Seattle Times Company
10:30-11 a.m. Break in the Town Square
11-11:45 a.m.


Lights, Camera, Revenue! Growing Your Video Business
(Griffin D & E)

Learn how one media company launched turnkey video marketing for local SMBs, monetizing a solution for all budgets, from retail and non-profits to recruitment. Along the way, their digital revenue exploded and they provided their publishers with a way to enhance local content. As local advertisers seek more targeted ways to engage with consumers, you'll learn from a panel of publishers and digital fulfillment partners about the various video deliveries, from Programmatic & OTT/CTV to Social Media audience networks. Learn how to effectively play in this space.

  • Jim Normandin, regional president, Adams Publishing Group
  • Mark Cohen, regional president, Adams Publishing Group
  • Sarah Belleau, director of partner growth, Frequence
  • Lindsay Dotterer, director of business devlopment, AffinityX
  • Facilitated by Mike Martoccia, vice president/digital, Adams Publishing Group

Community-based Funding for Local Newspapers (Cardinal)

Learn how local newspapers are engaging their communities to support their efforts through community-based funding solutions.  The "third leg" of the revenue stool — philanthropic efforts — are a critical part of any newspaper's future strategic plan.  This session will highlight how to get started, or how to enhance, your community engagement efforts.

  • Todd Franko, director of local sustainability and development, Report for America
11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. Lunch in the Town Square
Sponsored by Alliance for Audited Media
1-2:20 p.m.

Idea Exchange Roundtables (Griffin D & E)

Get more information about Mega-Conference topics and exchange ideas directly with other attendees during this session designed for attendees to come away with as many ideas as possible.   Table moderators and topics are:

  • Public Notice — Jim Fogler, president, Florida Press Association
  • Opportunities for Transitioning FSIs to Digital Revenue — Bob Woodward, vice president, Woodward Community Media, and publisher, Woodward Communications/TH Media
  • Political Advertising — John Kimball, owner, The John Kimball Group
  • Advocating for Your Newspaper and the LJSADean Ridings, CEO, America’s Newspapers
  • Branded Content That Works — Howard Griffin, SVP, national sales, Gannett/USA TODAY Network
  • Best Print Revenue Ideas for 2022 — David Dunn-Rankin, manager, D-R Media (Learn how you can get ALL of the ideas from this session!)
  • Report for America — Steve Waldman, president and co-founder
2:30-3:30 p.m.


Gaming — Big Gamble or New Business Model? (Griffin D & E)
Legalized gaming is coming to most states and online gaming is growing exponentially. How do newspapers get involved in this lucrative market and what are the challenges and opportunities from a revenue and content perspective?

  • Judi Terzotis, president and publisher, The Times-Picayune | Advocate
  • Robert Young, vice president, digital solutions,
  • Vincent Santorelli, affiliate marketing manager, Caesars Sportsbook

How NIE Can Help You Grow Audience (Cardinal)

Despite what people say, young people do read and are interested in the world around them — locally, nationally and globally. It is imperative that young people are introduced to quality, accurate and well-written content. Learning how to identify legitimate news sources and becoming critical thinkers is paramount for young people. Join the Florida Press Educational Services team to explore the importance of Newspaper in Education (NIE) programs, which can be profitable and cultivate future subscribers.

  • Jodi Pushkin, NIE manager, Tampa Bay Times
3:30-4 p.m. Break in the Town Square
4-5 p.m.

A Facilitated Discussion:
Where Do We Go From Here? 
(Griffin D & E)

What were the hottest topics heard in the hallway at Mega? This participative discussion will focus on the matters most critical to news organizations in the post-pandemic world. From issues related to hiring and retaining top talent to developing sustainable business practices and evolving your culture to meet modern expectations, this session is a must for publishers and leaders of all levels.

Facilitators will be:

  • Brandon Eyerly, publisher, Press Enterprise, Inc. 
  • Alisha Owens, VP, Sales, The Advocate/
  • Tom Shaw, VP and chief product officer, Shaw Media
5-6:30 p.m. Closing Reception in the Town Square