by Caroline Little, Newspaper Association of America
The newspaper industry has momentum and it will guide the way forward.
Newspaper digital readership hit a record high. Mobile readership soared. Circulation revenue grew for the first time in 10 years. Brilliant investors chose to focus on newspapers to expand their portfolios. Interactive article experiences were piloted. New innovations led to reconstructed business models and increased revenue streams.
The newspaper industry has faced challenges but I sense the shift within and outside of our industry. There is a palpable sense of excitement and energy that permeates through my discussions with publishers, executives and board members. At NAA mediaXchange 2013, I said that our industry was transforming and we had a strong year ahead of us.
I am glad to report that we have transformed and that strong year leads us into NAA mediaXchange 2014 next week.
For three days, the top minds of the media industry – from advertisers to publishers, editors to reporters, circulation directors to digital experts – will come together to examine and better the industry. It’s a time of year when we take pause – a very, very brief pause – from our day-to-day operations to assess the industry, share ideas and gain insights into making the next 12 months even more successful than the past 12.
How have we grown since last year? Where are we headed? What do we need to change and what could we do better?
Answering those questions has driven the planning for our entire program, including the sessions, speaker selections and unparalleled networking opportunities. This is the best time of the year all of our leaders and influencers will gather to shape the way forward for the entire industry. That is why NAA mediaXchange is a must-attend event each and every year.
In Denver, we will look at where the industry stands and the trends that will affect us as we learn from experts, share and discuss best practices, and strategize. My goal is for attendees to leave armed with the tools, resources and ideas to make newspaper companies even better and strengthen the industry.
When you look at the NAA mediaXchange 2014 program, you see that we have a robust lineup of speakers who will tackle the hard questions, emerging technologies and shifting landscape of media and audiences. It is a particular focus for us to look beyond a single platform – newspapers must view print, mobile and digital as equally important to secure our future.
For example, native advertising continues to be divisive, and the industry is at a critical juncture in developing best practices and successful strategies. While I believe it offers opportunity and promise, it requires delicacy and transparency. Our panel members – from The New York Times, Dell, Chicago Tribune and NewsCred – recognize this dichotomy and will be offering their own strategies and metrics for discussion.
We know that newspaper advertisements still rank as the most trusted form of advertising – but why stop there? If we could better understand our consumers’ changing patterns, we could reach more consumers and become an even more valued advertising partner. That’s exactly why we have an advertising panel lined up with executives from Sports Authority, Staples, NSA Media and AT&T.
We’ll be hearing from experts both inside and outside the newspaper industry, from Twitter’s Vivian Schiller to USA Today’s Larry Kramer, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith, Google’s Jason Washing and eight of the most exciting media start-ups with winning ideas for the newspaper business.
Our mission has not changed. We are still driven to provide quality reporting and analysis, educate our readers, connect communities and serve as the public watchdog for areas of injustice. Newspapers remain a key element of our American democracy and we pride ourselves on our free press.
As we move forward, we will strengthen our print, digital and mobile offerings to deliver this trusted content to suit our diverse audience. This will require creativity, willingness and even failure to be successful.
If the last year is any indication, the way forward for our industry will be paved with success.