Where are legacy news media companies on the road to reinvention for the Digital Age?

The news industry and interested parties will see for themselves when the 85th Annual World Congress of the International News Media Association (INMA) convenes May 10-12 in New York. 

With the main World Congress at The TimesCenter, nearly 450 attendees from 45 countries will participate this year – the second-highest attended INMA conference in a quarter century. 

This year’s World Congress is broken into four parts:

 1.    Strategy 

This is the meat of the conference on Monday and Tuesday, May 10-11, at The TimesCenter.

What we aim to tease out of experts is the future of news in the digital ecosystem – from a source of much controversy, Ross Dawson. In 2010, Dawson published the “Newspaper Extinction Timeline,” which predicted the useful life of news-on-paper country-by-country through mid-century. In New York, INMA gets to hear how off or on Dawson was on his predictions as he becomes more bullish about the future of news (outside of paper). 

INMA also is looking to hear the latest strategic road map for reinvention. Neal Zuckerman, partner and managing director of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), will lay out what is working for major media companies and unveil new research on branded content. 

We will pivot to what’s in the mind of advertisers and what publishers are doing about it with back-to-back panels from the sharpest leaders on Madison Avenue, explaining what is happening at a macro-level – including where legacy companies work, in either print or digital (or both).

If the Madison Avenue advertising leaders pose the challenges, a panel of companies experimenting on the cutting edge of time-based advertising, cross-platform performance, and new advertising format will aim to answer the challenges.

Prepare for an executive-level overview of what publishers need to know in Big Data and programmatic buying with panels designed to break down the subject and provide takeaways for the next 12 months. These are dense subjects, yet INMA has chosen panelists designed to tell a story in a digestible way. 

On Tuesday, INMA World Congress attendees will hear from the president of the Washington Post, Steve Hills, on the sea change in direction since this world-famous news brand was bought by Jeff Bezos. What is happening editorially? How is a content company re-thinking itself as a technology company? How is the Post shifting from a local focus to a global focus? We believe Hills has the answers.

Since much of the Post story is about an injection of radical culture change, INMA chose to segue to a follow-up from last year’s World Congress in San Francisco, David Kelley of IDEO, and burrow into what three companies are doing to change the process of innovation: Aller Media in Norway, MittMedia in Sweden, and El Colombiano in Colombia. 

A much-anticipated panel on the audience and revenue prospects of mobile – notably smartphones – will feature cutting-edge companies in this space: Aftenposten in Norway, The New York Times and Quartz in the United States, and Fairfax Media in Australia. 

The World Congress plenary sessions end with two panels tightly connected: the next-generation re-imagined newsroom and the processes behind rapid product development. Featured case studies include the Arizona Republic/Gannett, Time Inc., Die Welt, RussMedia, and Dow Jones.

 2.    Tactics 

As the INMA World Congress has evolved into the news media industry’s premier strategy conference for publishers, the association stumbled onto a way to cover a potpourri of best practices, case studies, and tactics: Brainsnacks.

The INMA Brainsnack Seminar on Sunday, May 10, at the Marriott Marquis will feature 13 presentations of no more than 7 minutes in length and 15 PowerPoint slides each. Can we cut to the chase, tell a story, and convey meaning in a short period of time? The idea is to cover a lot of ground in 2.5 hours. 

Confirmed case studies include Independent Newspapers, South Africa; South China Morning Post, Hong Kong; Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland; RAM, Sweden; Toronto Star, Canada; News Corp Australia; HT Media, India; Philippine Daily Inquirer; NZ Media & Entertainment, New Zealand; CNHI, United States; PressReader, Canada; JoongAng Ilbo, South Korea; and Axel Springer, Germany.

When was the last time you saw that level of diversity on one stage at one time?

 3.    Immersive 

Prior to World Congress, INMA will conduct a Media Disruption Study Tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn companies. Two – Bloomberg and New York Times R&D – fall in the legacy media category. The other 10 fall clearly into the “new digital media company” category. 

Nearly 60 World Congress attendees have chosen to participate in this study tour, which aims to delve into the economics, strategy, audience, and advertising concepts behind companies aiming for new and different slices of the creative class. 

The Media Disruption Study Tour is an opportunity to “go immersive” and hands-on with the top executives of companies like Skift, Business Insider, Complex Media, Vice, Gothamist, Atavist, Longform, Roads & Kingdoms, Food52, and Upworthy.

 4.    Awards 

INMA rewards three things: 

  • Excellence in growing audience, revenue, and brand. 
  • Process-based innovation. 
  • Volunteer service and lifetime achievement. 

On Tuesday evening, May 12, the INMA Awards Dinner will be held at the Edison Ballroom in New York’s Times Square. The ballroom dates to 1931 and has played host to Broadway shows and today’s hottest stars (J-Lo, Madonna). 

For one night, INMA takes over. 

INMA will hand out 30 first-place awards in the 80th Annual INMA Awards competition, rewarding outstanding achievement in sales and marketing. These winners will be unveiled from 89 finalists announced in March. The pinnacle will be the announcement of “Best in Show.” 

The association also will announce regional winners and a worldwide winner in the 2nd-Annual INMA Global Innovation Awards. INMA is shining a light on companies that have gotten right the process of innovation. 

And, in a tradition dating to 1947, INMA will reward a member for volunteer service to the association and lifetime achievement to the news media industry. 

The INMA Awards Dinner promises to be a night of glitz.


INMA promised a show in 2015, and it’s about to deliver. For complete information on World Congress, go to www.inma.org/worldcongress.

See you under the bright lights of Broadway!