Three star keynoters and 63 high-powered flash sessions

August 1, 2015

Mark Twain got me my job and he got you yours, too

Ron Powers, award-winning Missouri author, opens the National Newspaper Association convention Friday morning, Oct. 2, with reminders of our heritage. Powers says it was Mark Twain’s “proletarian, vernacular, sassy narrative voice that wove newspapers into our culture; gave them their individual personalities; made them into almost extensions of the family, to an extent they’d never have achieved if they’d had to stick to European diction and politisse—pardon my French. To that extent alone, they are interwoven with our national personality, and thus indispensable.”

Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Emmy Award-winning writer and critic, has studied and written about Mark Twain for many years. He is the author of 10 books, including “Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain,” and the coauthor of two, including the No. 1 New York Times bestseller, “Flags of Our Fathers.”

Will you cover
accidents by drone?

Drone Journalism Is Illegal And Coming Soon

Matt Waite says right now, it’s extremely difficult for a news organization to use a small drone to do journalism. But that’s going to change in a matter of months. What seemed like science fiction is becoming very real. What does this mean for your news organization? What will the rules be? And how did we get here? Waite knows drones inside and out. He can tell newsrooms what the best uses will be in the future, what is legal and what is ethical. Plus, he will bring his drone for a demonstration. Not to be missed!

Waite is a professor of practice at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE. Before joining the faculty, he was the senior news technologist for the St. Petersburg Times of Florida and the principal developer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.

Before becoming a Web developer, he was an award-winning investigative reporter. He began his journalism career at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, covering police and breaking news, including deadly tornadoes and the crash of American Airlines flight 1420 in 1999. 


Can Small Papers Deal with Media Buyers and Land on their Feet?

Michael Bush, founder of Future Tense Services, spent most of his career dealing with media buyers. He believes community newspapers can make successful deals that benefit both sides, and he will provide tips on “getting to yes” with them.

Bush created Future Tense Services LLC in January of 2015. He describes FTS as a stealth-stage media company that is unwrapping the present to bring the future to community news and information by transforming fixed costs into variable assets.

Before founding FTS, Bush was chief executive officer and president of Civitas Media, where he created and implemented a new company platform including graphics, pagination and business office consolidation, significantly reducing expenses while improving the content and control systems. Bush’s extensive newspaper experience includes serving as chief executive officer and president of Heartland Publications, vice president of operations for the Journal Register Co. and vice president of operations, Media News Group.


Share Your Successes

NNA’s 129th convention is all about sharing successes and steering around pitfalls. Every participant brings a world of expertise that you can tap during your three days in St. Charles. Plan to talk to publishers, exhibitors, insurance experts, digital sales gurus, writers, drone experts and award winners.


Bring Samples for the Great Idea Exchange 

The Great Idea Exchange will be back again this year with Robert Williams, publisher, Blackshear (GA) Times, at the microphone. He will be asking you to show an example of your best ideas, and your friends will want copies to take home, so tuck several samples into your suitcase as you pack. Plan to be in this popular session on Saturday afternoon to share your success stories, hand out examples of your “great idea” and gather tips from your peers.


Choose from 63 Flash Sessions

Heard of speed dating? These 63 flash sessions will be even better. Get new ideas quickly. Meet creative thinkers. Share your own thoughts. Walk away with a bunch of new plans. You will be able to select six topics out of an array of nearly 30 that are scheduled in three different time slots.  Quick, intense, successful.

Each session will have a discussion leader at designated tables who will provide an introduction on the topic and then facilitate the discussion. You will have 30 minutes to exchange ideas. 

During each round, one flash session will be an open-ended discussion on any topic the table chooses. Dane Vernon, convention co-chair, will lead that table.

Aug. 31 is the Early Bird Deadline. Save $50 by registering early. Go to


Plan to arrive on Thursday in time for the extras

At 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. you can attend the free “Benefits University” sessions where you will learn how to avoid the pitfalls by the Affordable Care Act.

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. you can get a sneak preview of the trade show and enjoy refreshments.

At 3:30 p.m. you can attend the annual Waltterry Libel Insurance Seminar and receive a 5 percent discount on your NNA libel insurance policy.


Register Now

Before you go online to register for the convention, use the worksheet printed on Page 14. Next, go to and click on the registration button.

The NNA discounted room rate of $139 per night is available until Aug. 29. Call the St. Charles Embassy Suites at 636-946-5544 for reservations.

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