By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director

Dennis Hetzel


Circle Feb. 11-12, 2015, on your calendars now.  Our annual convention, which is moving back to the north side of Columbus where the parking is free, should be one of our best ever.

We’re so excited about the confirmed parts of our program, “Solving the Puzzle,” that we’re giving you a sneak peek today.  There will be multiple tracks with topics for business, advertising and newsroom leaders.


Christine Brennan, an Ohio native who is one of America’s best-known sports commentators for USA Today and ESPN and a role model for female journalists around the world, will be our luncheon speaker. Christine also will be donating signed copies of her best-selling books to our Ohio Newspapers Foundation auction.

Matt Tenney is a former Marine with an amazing life story that took him from prison to a monastery to his current status as a nationally known speaker and author on how to provide extraordinary leadership. Matt will keynote our breakfast. Check out his YouTube introduction to ONA members.

The opening general session will feature newspaper industry CEOs talking about the state of our industry, including Michael Bush, the president and CEO of Civitas Media, the owner of more newspapers than any other group in Ohio.

Kevin Slimp, one of the newspaper industry’s most popular speakers, will do two sessions for us, one on improving customer service and another on new technology and software that you really should know about – including a lot of free programs and apps.

Doug Haddix, director of the Kiplinger program in public affairs journalism at Ohio State and the former training director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, will give a breakout session that reporters and editors from papers of all sizes won’t want to miss. His focus will include leveraging social media to do better, faster reporting.


Christine Brennan

We’ll have a debate on Ohio politics between Matt Borges, head of the Ohio Republican Party, and State Rep. Chris Refern, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party.  There could be some fireworks in that one. (Maybe we can convince them to spend more advertising dollars with our products.)

We’ll have a panel on what’s happening with high school sports coverage in Ohio that will include two Ohio sports editors and Tim Stried, director of information services for the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Tim will answer questions about OHSAA’s coverage regulations as well.

For the first time, we will have an ad directors’ roundtable in which advertising execs from around the state can share ideas and discuss mutual concerns.  This actually will be a pre-convention event starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 11.

We’re also planning sessions on new revenue streams for newspapers, the latest developments with “paywall” approaches, a discussion of postal service issues that will include a representative of the U.S. Postal Service and a session featuring ONA General Counsel Lou Colombo and me to update members on changes in Ohio’s public notice laws.

And, of course, we will have our Hooper and collegiate journalism awards, silent auction, opening reception and more.

Our Convention Committee also has decided to change the convention schedule. Instead of trying to pack everything into one very long day, we will start after lunch on Feb. 11 and end by 3 p.m. the next day, allowing people to head home earlier. And, frankly, we hope this encourages people to stay to the end.

After moving the convention downtown this year, our committee decided to return to the Hilton Columbus at Polaris, which is near major shopping areas and has an ideal layout for our event. Plus, like I said, there’s free parking.

So, we hope you’re as excited as we are. Watch for more details as the date gets closer.

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