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Mega-conference brings innovation and insight to Orlando: more than 600 newspaper executives attended this year's conference.

Nearly 600 newspaper executives and 70 vendors attended the 2017 Key Executives Mega-Conference in Orlando, Fla. Feb 2325. 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 mega-conference.com.

Caption: (From left) Rick O'Connor, president/CEO, of Black Press; Lori Maxim, director of revenue, of Morris Multimedia; and Ryan Beauchamp, account executive, of OwnLocal

Caption: (From left) Guy Tasaka, chief digital officer, and Jake Volcsko, director of digital media and marketing, of Calkins Media, pose with their Innovation Award offstage

Caption: (From left) Tom Reinacher, vice president, of ppiMedia Us, Inc.; from Lineup Systems: Michelle Gullia, marketing manager; Daryl Kern, pre-sales executive; Ben Ganje, sales executive; and Pete Lewis, sales executive

Caption: (From left) J. Tom Shaw, general manager, of Shaw Media; Patrick McCarthy, vice president, operations and business development, and Will Mayo, CEO, of SpokenLayer; Jeremy Mims, co-founder, of OwnLocal; and Kevin Wendt, business development manager, of Beyond Private Label

Caption: (From left) Rex Kastner, owner/partner/founder, Kim Evans, owner/partner/ founder, and Patrick Bingle, owner/partner/founder, of Spark Digital Sales Group

Caption: Carina Wingel, marketing director, of Content That Works

Caption: (From left) Kim Vander Velde, SVP of sales, and Andrew Greb, senior affiliate manager, of Legacy.com

Caption: Steve Lett, North American sales and distribution, of Libercus

Caption: (From left) Brad Hill, president, Laura Streelman, product manager, and Bill Garber, founder and chairman, of InterLink

Caption: Nikhil Modi, CEO of Whiz Technologies

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Title Annotation:Key Executives Mega-Conference in Orlando, Florida
Author:Stroh, Sean
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Apr 1, 2017
Words:707
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