Mega-Conference Program at a Glance

Sunday, April 14

*Times are subject to change

1:30 p.m.
Registration Desk opens (Valley of the Sun DE Foyer) 

5:30-6:30 p.m.
Opening Reception in the Town Square
(Valley of the Sun DE)
Sponsored by Kodak

Monday, April 15

*Times and dates are subject to change

7:30-8:30 a.m.
Breakfast in the Town Square (Valley of the Sun DE)
Sponsored by Compulse

8:30 a.m.
(Valley of the Sun ABC)

Welcome to Phoenix and Mega 2024
Francis Wick, President, Wick Communications

Greg Burton, VP of News and Execuive Editor, The Arizona Republic

Six Ways Supporting Local Journalism May Reduce Fine Lines & Wrinkles|
Mi-Ai Parrish, Managing Director, ASU Media Enterprise, CEO and Founder, MAP Strategies Group

9:15 a.m.
The AI Impact on Local News
AI is impacting the local news environment at a rapid speed. It's not just about content; it's also changing the way sales and operations will be run. Jeremy Gilbert, Professor and Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy at Medill, Northwestern University

9:50 a.m.
Coffee break in the Town Square

10:20  a.m.

Current Trends in Lead-to-Cash: People, Process and Platforms
(Valley of the Sun ABC)
The Lead-to-Cash cycle is one of a media company’s most critical and complex processes, yet executives rarely pay any real attention to it. It is simply the collection of all activities — from receiving an order through processing it and getting paid — that relate to making a sale and realizing the revenues from it. In this session, we’ll talk about some of today’s most popular Lead-to-Cash solutions and the best practices that drive efficient operations across lead management, sales enablement, order processing, finance operations and enterprise reporting. Our panel will include real-life examples from publishers and their partners who help make it all happen.
Moderated by Christopher Prinos, Founder and CEO of Indigo Trigger, with: Brooke Zapata, SVP Sales Enablement, Gannett; Daryl Kern, Head of Global Pre Sales, Lineup Systems, Ltd; and Shalonda Lewis, Dir. Of Operations-Shared Services, Tribune Publishing Company

AI is for More Than Content! Using AI to Enhance Operations  (Ahwatukee)
While the focus in the media world has been on how AI can impact content, new AI-driven applications are being introduced every day that enhance other areas of the operation. This session will introduce how AI is being used to find efficiencies in distribution, operations, HR and more with real-world examples from inside and outside the media industry. With Rachel See, Senior Counsel, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP

11 a.m. 
Break to switch sessions

11:15  a.m.

Digital Product Development: Building a Lasting Book of Business  (Valley of the Sun ABC)
This session delves into the strategic approaches for creating and nurturing a sustainable book of business through digital products and offerings. We will explore the critical decision-making process between leveraging external vendors and internal development (in housing), evaluating their impacts on scalability, cost-effectiveness and innovation. Robert Young, GM, Advertising, The Advocate, NOLA, and Melissa Sheehan, CRO, AdCellerant

AI and the Future of Local Newspapers: How One Newspaper Group is Leveraging AI to Expand Hyperlocal Reach, Enhance Reader Engagement and Unlock New Advertising Opportunities  (Ahwatukee)
In 2024, Trib Total Media is exploring how to harness the power of AI, couple it with their core competencies, and come up with a strategy to address the fundamental challenges facing their business. Guiding imperatives were hyper-local audience development, improved engagement, accessing new advertisers, new revenue opportunities and little to no new headcount.  An endeavor that could create enormous implications for the future of their 18 printed newspapers and 35 hyper-local news sites. Moderated by Lloyd Armbrust, CEO, OwnLocal, with: Matt Miller, CRO of TTM, and Joe Lawrence, General Counsel of TTM and CEO of MeSearch

11:45 p.m.
Lunch in the Town Square
Sponsored by SCS

1:15-2:45 p.m.
Solutions Roundtables (Valley of the Sun ABC)
This fast-paced session provides attendees with 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.  Check out the roundtable topics!

Table hosts are:


  • Audience
  • BellCornerstone
  • CitySpark
  • Column
  • Creative Circle Media Solutions
  • Elite Insights
  • Enghouse Interactive
  • Jobcase (formerly Recruitology)
  • King Features
  • Monster
  • NERUS Strategies
  • Newzware - ICANON
  • OnPremise Network
  • OwnLocal
  • Seyfarth
  • Spot-On

2:30 p.m.
Refreshment break in the Town Square

3 p.m.

GENERAL SESSION (Valley of the Sun ABC)

The Business of Growing Audience (Valley of the Sun ABC)
With third-party cookies crumbling and the social media landscape softening, it’s never been a more important time to own your own audience. This session delves into the business case for engagement and how to build a healthy funnel with first-party data no matter the size of your operation.  Learn valuable strategies in audience development to connect communities, enhance readership and build the business.  With Josh Awtry, Senior Vice President / Audience Development, Newsweek

3:40 p.m.
Break to switch sessions

3:50 p.m.

Three Executive Takes & Takeways in Uncovering & Developing All-Star Teams (Valley of the Sun ABC)
Best practices for finding and keeping great people. We'll tap into how media companies are recruiting, growing and incentivizing sales talent and executives. You’ll leave with inspirational stories, useful tools and simple best practices.
Moderated by Kelly Outlaw, CFO, Community Impact, with: Tess Coverman, VP, Sales & Marketing, Community Impact; and John Garrett, Founder and CEO, Community Impact

Politics 2024: Chaos or Clarity? (Ahwatukee)
Politics will dominate the media landscape at the national, state and local levels for the rest of the year. Here’s how one newsroom in a swing state with highly competitive races plans to engage audiences by showcasing truth, fostering trust and delivering clarity. Former President Donald Trump tried to flip the result of the presidential race in Arizona in 2020 and the effects of that challenge linger. Moderated by Kathleen Tulumello, News Director, The Arizona Republic, with four additional panelists from The Arizona Republic: Stacey Barchenger, State Politics Reporter; Ron Hansen, National Politics Reporter; Sasha Hupka, County and Elections Reporter; and Pat Poblete, State Politics and Issues Editor

4:30 p.m.
GENERAL SESSION (Valley of the Sun ABC)

Measuring Local Newspaper Ad Effectiveness
America’s Newspapers and Coda Ventures unveil the results of the 2024 Local Newspaper Ad Effectiveness Study.   Learn how local newspaper ads stack up against the competition across a wide variety of retail segments.  With Greg Watson, CMO, America’s Newspapers; Marianne Grogan, President, Coda Ventures; and Dee Evans, VP of Sales and Business Development, Advantage Newspaper Consultants

 4:45 p.m.  
Putting Local in Local Sales
This will be a fast-paced panel discussion with three industry leaders focusing on where their local sales success is coming from and how you can adopt their ideas into your local operation, today. Moderated by John Newby, Chief Revenue Officer, Editor & Publisher Magazine, with: Lee Bachlet, COO, CherryRoad Media; Allen Jones, President, Local Sales, Gannett | USA TODAY Network; and Mike Martoccia, VP, Digital Sales/Marketing, Adams Publishing Group

5:20 p.m.
Sessions End

5:30–6:30 p.m.

Reception in Town Square
Sponsored by Gannett

Dinner on Your Own

Tuesday, April 16

*Times and dates are subject to change

7:30–8:30 a.m.
Breakfast in the Town Square
Sponsored by Indigo Trigger

8:30 a.m.

GENERAL SESSION (Valley of the Sun ABC)
Introduced by Chris Kline, President and CEO, Arizona Media Association

America’s Newspapers Update on the Community News and Small Business Support Act
Learn about America’s Newspapers’ latest advocacy efforts to protect local journalism, what the future holds for legislation and how publishers can get involved to help protect local journalism.  Dean Ridings, CEO, America’s Newspapers

Advocating for Passage of the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) & other relevant legislation
Learn about the latest advocacy efforts in support of the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) and other important legislation to protect local journalism. Danielle Coffey, CEO, News/Media Alliance

Other America’s Newspapers Legislative Activity
Speakers to be announced 

9:15 a.m.                           
Innovative Strategies for Revenue Growth
Our panel of revenue all-stars will detail the strategies, technologies and best practices that empower their organizations to make data-driven revenue generation a reality. This includes print, digital, direct mail or whatever it takes to grow your audience, your markets and your profits. We also will discuss sales training strategies, motivation and incentivizing to make it all happen. Moderated by Sara Willard, Partner, GW Media Group, with: Chris Stegman, CRO, The Salt Lake Tribune; Sara Hardison, Digital Director, Ogden Newspapers; and Keira Nothaft, VP Product Innovation, Gannett | USA TODAY Network

10 a.m.                               
Coffee break in the Town Square

10:30 a.m.                         
GENERAL SESSION (Valley of the Sun ABC)

Strategic Philanthropy 
This session will discuss how philanthropic partnerships can be utilized to meet the coverage needs of local communities. Discover innovative approaches to community engagement and support through strategic philanthropy.  With Greg Burton, Executive Editor, The Arizona Republic; Laura McBride, Senior Program Officer, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust; Stacy Sullivan, Director of Local Philanthropic Partnerships, USA TODAY Network | Gannett; and Andrea Whitsett, Director, Morrison Institute on Public Policy, Arizona State University

11:15 a.m.                         
Subscriber Revenue and Retention
Building reader revenue continues to be at the forefront of every organization’s strategic plan.  This session will focus on how to involve the total operation to engage new audiences and retain existing readers. Our panelists will share proven strategies as well as the innovations they are employing to creatively attract new audiences while keeping current readers actively engaged. Moderated by Aaron Kotarek, SVP, Audience & Operations, Oahu Publications, Inc., with: Esther Maina, VP, Audience Development & Marketing, Adams Publishing Group; Traci Bauer, VP, Print/Digital Content, Adams Publishing Group; and Claire Linney, Director of Digital Subscriber Acquisition, McClatchy



 1 p.m.                                  

GENERAL SESSION (Valley of the Sun ABC)

Mega-Conference Idea Exchanges 
These always popular sessions wrap-up the Mega-Conference!  Connect with your colleagues and exchange your best ideas in revenue, content, digital and more.  These discussions are open to all conference attendees.

2:30 p.m.                           
Mega-Conference Concludes

Session Spotlights
Mi-Ai Parrish, who leads the Arizona State University Media Enterprise and is the Professor for Media Innovation and Leadership at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will focus on six ways supporting local journalism may reduce fine lines and wrinkles during her keynote address on Monday at the Mega-Conference. Parrish also is president and CEO of MAP Strategies Group, based in Phoenix.
Next Monday afternoon at the Mega-Conference, Josh Awtry, senior vice president, audience development with Newsweek, will delve into the business case for engagement and how to build a healthy funnel with first-party data no matter the size of your operation. Learn valuable strategies in audience development to connect communities, enhance readership and build the business.
During a fast-paced session on Monday afternoon at the Mega-Conference, newspaper attendees will have 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.
Networking in the Town Square is an important part of building connections at the Mega-Conference.

The Town Square is the hub of our conference — outside of the meeting rooms. You’ll find lots of space in the Town Square for those important conversations with your colleagues, and the opportunity to see firsthand how our Solutions Partners can provide you with the tools to succeed.

The Coffee Shoppe, The Pub, The Wine Bar, The Whiskey Shoppe and (new this year): The Bake Shoppe