Summary of Sunday, May 15: starting the conference with a Brainsnack


Having brought in a range of speakers Sunday to talk about special projects at their media companies around the globe — everything from tablet apps in the U.K. and mobile advertising initiatives in Canada, to a women's magazine in Poland and courting school-age readers in Sweden — the overall message of the day seemed to be that there is no one game plan for publishers trying to react to the changing marketplace.

Speaker after speaker advised the audience of about 200 to “experiment,” “try it,” and “hedge your bets” on a range of efforts. Ken Babby, chief revenue officer of the Washington Post, even evoked the image of a spinning a roulette wheel to describe why his company has launched so many initiatives in so many areas over the past year. “We can't do everything,” he said, “but we can try a little bit of lots of things,” then be ready to capitalise on what takes off and revise or close down what doesn't.

The other big area of activity for this 81st World Congress happened in the digital realm of Twitter, where attendees took hold of the conference's publicised #INMAWC hashtag and started tweeting their fingers off to share the ideas from Sunday's Brainsmack session. @DaveColeman spoke for the crowd, tweeting, “This is the most I have tweeted in months. Funny that it just so happens that this is the best conference I have been to in a while.”

Seven new members of the INMA board were elected during the organisation's official annual meeting in the early afternoon.

Finally, about 200 conference participants, speakers and staff went business casual to mingle at the opening night reception held at the NYC Sheraton Hotel and Towers. In brief remarks, outgoing INMA President Michael Phelps of the Washington Examiner, congratulated the crowd as representative of an industry continuing to do important work for society even as the marketplace is undergoing tremendous change.

“Our business has changed a lot this year, last year, over the last decade, over the last two decades,” he said. “We now call journalism ‘content’; we now call price a ‘paywall’; we now call editing ‘curating.’ But the basic business that we're in, that of providing news and information to our communities and paying for it by selling advertising and by selling our newspapers and our products, has remained the same and will remain the same for a long time. We do important work.”

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