HSPA conference offers learning, sharing

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Greg Morris
Greg Morris

News Biz
By Greg Morris

It’s always hard to break away from the rigors of the daily grind to attend an industry conference.

It seems like everyone is juggling five or more full-time jobs at once these days, and that makes it especially tough.

However, it’s critically important to make time once in a while to get out of the office to learn, network with peers, and just plain think about how to improve your business.

Hopefully all those who attended the HSPA and HSPA Foundation Annual Meetings & Government Conference in Indianapolis recently felt this event was a good investment of their time and money.

Attendance was up this year after several years of decline. It was great to see more people.

I don’t know about you, but when I attend an event like this, I find the networking and casual conversations with my peers to be one of the most valuable takeaways from conference.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy or learn from the sessions, but it’s so valuable to hear how others in the business are navigating the challenging landscape. When more people attend, that increases the value.

This years’ conference chairwoman was Robyn McCloskey, senior vice president and division manager for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. and the HSPA board of directors vice president.

Robyn teamed up with her conference planning committee made up of Copper Club members – past presidents of the HSPA and HSPA Foundation boards – and produced a program that knocked it out of the park.

Along with the great efforts of Steve Key, Karen Braeckel and the entire HSPA staff, I believe this was the best conference in years. Great job Robyn, Copper Club, Steve, Karen and staff!

Among other topics, this year’s conference covered:

• Indiana legislative issues like the current assault on public notices in newspapers at the Statehouse.

• Using social media in the newsroom.

• Public access issues, independent contract status, centralizing copy desk services, postal issues, centralized graphics, digital advertising and digital newsrooms and strategic preprint pricing in round-table discussions.

• Competing for preprints and other postal revenue along with other postal service issues and strategies.

Have I mentioned the camaraderie and spending quality time with your peers?

There was a bit of a hiccup that could not be avoided for the Legislative Luncheon. Less than 15 percent of the 60 legislators that said they were coming actually were able to attend.

However, it wasn’t their fault. It was a very busy day at the Statehouse, and important matters of the state had to take priority for these folks.

A similar situation occurred in the past, and as a result we are looking for ways to minimize the possibility of this scenario replaying itself next year.

However, the lack of legislator attendance did not dampen spirits at the luncheon as two very deserving individuals were awarded Frank O’Bannon Sunshine Awards for their support of open government.

The Hoosier State Press Association honored Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Jane Neulieb, a town council member in Long Beach, Ind., for their ongoing efforts.

Gov. Mike Pence and his wife Karen hosted the Governor’s Reception at the spacious Quarterback Suite at Lucas Oil Stadium.

We had the entire stadium to ourselves. It was a great venue for the governor to deliver inspirational words and his support for the newspaper industry.

At the Governor’s Reception, I was honored to award Henry Bird, senior vice president for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., with HSPA’s Distinguished Service Award for his longtime support of the newspaper industry.

For his service to the newspaper industry through his leadership role at properties in multiple states, to his commitment to both HSPA and the HSPA Foundation while a board member or officer, Henry is a very deserving recipient of this award.

There’s a lot more that space does not permit me to cover.

So thank you again to all those who attended and participated in this year’s Annual Meetings and Conference. We hope to see you back next year.

For those who couldn’t attend this year, please make every effort to come next year.

We’ll be working hard to produce another great program to benefit all our membership.

I wish you much success in 2013, and please let us know how HSPA can continue to help you achieve your goals.

Greg Morris, HSPA board of directors president, is presi­­dent of IBJ Media and publisher of Indianapolis Business Journal. His column appears in the first issue of each month.