A big part of my role as CEO of the International News Media Association (INMA) is visiting with members — at conferences, on study tours, and occasionally at their offices. These are the media executives charting courses of transformation and innovation. I am privileged and jazzed to interact and have never failed to learn something new from a visit.

Over the next 37 days, I will visit with hundreds of INMA members at 22 companies in 10 countries on four continents. Each visit is a little different — though often day-long sessions with multiple groups that include boards of directors, management teams, editorial departments, advertising departments, and digital teams. At least two companies are having me meet with advertisers and agencies.

Beyond that, I will interact with hundreds more at INMA and industry conferences in Sydney, Lima, and Oslo

INMA Executive Director/CEO Earl J. Wilkinson hits the road for 37 days of intense industry immersion.
INMA Executive Director/CEO Earl J. Wilkinson hits the road for 37 days of intense industry immersion.

It is rare to have access to that much brainpower in a single concentrated blast — rarer still across such a vast geography.

My visits to media companies can best be described as an ideas exchange: I bring you the breadth of best practices, strategies, and benchmarks from your peers around the world, and you brief me on your top initiatives. 

Excuse me if I feel like preparing for a Ph.D. programme as I am to visit INMA members: 

  • Australia: Fairfax, Herald & Weekly Times, McPherson Media, News Corp, West Australian.
  • New Zealand: Fairfax , NZME.
  • Chile: El Mercurio.
  • Argentina: Clarín, La Nacion.
  • Peru: El Comercio 
  • Sweden: Bonnier, Schibsted. 
  • Norway: Amedia, Schibsted. 
  • Switzerland: NZZ, Ringier. 
  • Austria: Voralberger Nachrichten. 
  • Poland: Agora. 

Beyond these INMA members, I plan on visiting with start-ups, digital pure-plays, and other legacy players.

Just to prove I am not “all news media all the time,” I will spend off-hours soaking up the best of these locales. There will be Father’s Day with friends in Sydney. There is talk of an Australian Football League (AFL) knock-out match in Melbourne. There is a re-introduction, of sorts, to Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires. There will be cigars with friends in Oslo. There are rumors of fine dining in Old Warsaw.

Yet make no mistake, there is important business to be done. Our International Board will hear from a senior Google executive as well as the CEO of Schibsted. We will be getting the work of INMA done with regional boards from Europe and Latin America.

And we will be talking about next-generation ways of connecting with INMA members — most likely to do more of what I plan on doing over the next 37 days. How can we better connect the dots for INMA members? Given limited time resources, how can we better point the way?

I am curious what the road will serve up for me. Who has outlier best practices to share? What are the commonalities among companies? How will the story of our industry’s transformation look after this tour?

For the next five weeks, I will be INMA’s eyes and ears on the global media industry. I invite you to join me on this epic journey. Stay tuned here, as well as on our INMA social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). I’ll be using the hashtag #INMAOnTheRoad.

And now, I kick off this journey with a gentle 17-hour direct flight from Dallas to Sydney.