Mega-Conference 2019

A Mega-Conference full of actionable ideas keeps a focus on the cultural big picture


Newspaper industry leaders flock to the Key Executives Mega-Conference every year for going on nine years for the wealth of actionable ideas and strategies they can immediately turn into growth opportunities back home.

When executives assemble for the 2019 Mega-Conference at the Paris Las Vegas in February, they’ll find plenty of practicality. But they’ll also find sessions that explore how changing or nourishing culture—in sales, the newsroom and digital media—can lead to unexpected revenue growth.

During the Mega-Conference’s two and a half days there are more sessions that look at how the newsroom—yes, the newsroom—can contribute to revenue growth, and without shattering the integrity of its journalists or products.

Growing reader revenue takes more than just building a paywall or launching a membership program. Turning readers into subscribers requires understanding audience needs, improving our websites and changing how we talk to and with our communities. It also requires structural, technological and cultural changes in our newsrooms.

What does this “change” look like in the daily operations? It often means much closer cooperation with the other parts of the organization – marketing, audience, advertising, tech – and thinking outside the constraints of how we used to run the business.

During a Tuesday afternoon breakout session at the Mega-Conference, set for Feb. 25-27 in Las Vegas, Damon Kiesow, Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Production at the Missouri School of Journalism, will lead a panel discussion on “Changing the Newsroom Culture to Maximize Reader Revenue.”

Joining him for this discussion will be:

• Simon Galperin, business development lead, GroundSource

• Celeste LeCompte, vice president of business development, ProPublica

• Amanda Wilkins, product manager for news tools, The McClatchy Company

Kiesow says, “A successful subscription program demands unprecedented collaboration and alignment of efforts across the organization. This means understanding audience needs, designing solutions (from technology to editorial to marketing) that will convert readers to subscribers – and removing any internal barriers to doing that job well.”

Prior to teaching at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Kiesow was the director of product for McClatchy. He also has worked as a product manager at the Boston Globe, was the first Digital Media Fellow at the Poynter Institute and the first digital managing editor at the Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph.