– once billed as “the largest annual gathering of news media executives” were treated to a float ride on the way to the New Orleans Advocate offices.
MediaXchange – once billed as “the largest annual gathering of news media executives, including publishers, journalists and advertisers” – is no more.
The News Media Alliance – until 2016, the Newspaper Association of America – has canceled its hotel reservations for its planned 2018 MediaXchange in Washington.
Instead, the NMA is likely to hold its annual meeting in conjunction with next year’s Key Executives Mega Conference.
The Key Executives MegaConference – sponsored jointly by the Inland Press Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, and the Local Media Association – is scheduled for Feb. 26-28 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.
The MegaConference was itself a consolidation, beginning seven years ago, of three separate late winter conferences held by Inland, SNPA and LMA (then the Suburban Newspapers Association). That consolidation breathed life into the winter meeting, and has proved to be a financial bonus for the three sponsoring organizations. Attendees and vendors have applauded the consolidation.
MediaXchange was birthed out of a once-huge convention known as Nexpo, which became “Connections” before finally settling on the name MediaXchange.
For many years, it was the largest gathering of newspaper executives in the United States. The conventions attracted top speakers. For example, in 2012, at the MediaXchange in Washington, both presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were keynote speakers.
The Associated Press has long used the convention as the site of its annual business meeting, further attracting key executives and others to MediaXchange.
For vendors, MediaXchange was a “must show” for many years, even though registration and other costs were high. Back 20 years ago, or so, the major hardware vendors even set up presses, folding machines and other heavy equipment on the trade show floor.
The NNA had little trouble attracting sponsorships from newsprint, ink, printing press producers and other companies that once made fortunes serving the newspaper industry.
I’ve attended many of the Nexpos, Connections and MediaXchanges, including what apparently will be the last one, which concluded in early May in New Orleans. Signs of distress were easy to see: 1. Attendance was clearly down,
a continuing trend.
2. Few companies sent more than one
or two representatives.
3. Almost no editors, circulation managers, classified managers were present (unlike 15-20 years earlier). 4. The trade show was small, and the
vendors generally unhappy.
5. The major sponsors were the New Orleans Advocate, Facebook and Google. No “big iron” or newsprint or ink company money was available. David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, told me he although the “content and energy (at the convention) were good, the attendance was off as part of a clear long-term trend.
“I told my board that rather than fight the market, we should reboot and look at what people really want.”
Chavern added that his organization will begin sponsoring “smaller, very focused events…and not try to have one big event that tries to deal with every trend in the industry.”
Chavern, who came to the NMA from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the general trend, regardless of industry, is away from big trade show/conventions.
Because of changes in communications – he cited webinars, video conferencing, and other high-speed communications – there isn’t as much need to big trade shows to act as sales channels. He said this trend is especially true in the newspaper field because of ongoing revenue declines.
“I still think there is room possibly for one big trade show,” and he said he hoped his organization could ally itself with the MegaConference.
I think Chavern and his board and staff have made a wise decision.
We need consolidation of efforts. I hope Inland, SNPA and LMA will welcome the News Media Alliance into the family at the Key Executives MegaConference.
Let’s all show up together next February in San Diego.
Marc Wilson is executive chairman of TownNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.