Going Digital Case Study, Covering Courts, Using Maine’s FOA Act, and Innovation & Disruption

This year’s MPA Conference Committee has been hard at work to present a program of interesting and engaging sessions. Here’s the roster:

La Presse + Summary of Case Study: 9:15 am to 9:45 am Montreal’s La Presse needed to take bold action to survive. Two years into the project, the La Presse + digital app has more subscribers than the print edition and produces 70% of the company’s ad revenues. La Presse has just announced that it will produce a printed newspaper on Saturdays only. Is this the news model of the future? What have we learned from the experiment and what happens next? Presented by Paul Norton of alfa CPT Systems, Inc., the company that powers the La Presse digital platform.


Innovation and Disruption in the Media Industry: 9:45 am to 10:45 am. Well-known digital media and marketing consultant Shannon Kinney will discuss the latest trends in the changes rocking our newsrooms and advertising departments. A sample: “In order to transform a local media company, bold changes are necessary. We must change our culture or suffer the consequences. Mobile requires resources and a strategy NOW. Our content strategies must change and evolve. And we must invest in data and analytics or be left behind.” In this dynamic session you’ll learn key takeaways from Shannon’s visits to companies including BuzzFeed, Mashable, Hearst Corp., McClatchy, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tout, Yelp, and many more. What trends matter to local media companies? Where can changes offer the most results? Find out.


Covering courts in Maine: 11:00 am to 12:15 pm. Veteran legal affairs reporters Scott Dolan of the Portland Press Herald, Judy Harrison of the Bangor Daily News, and Chris Williams of the Lewiston Sun Journal will share their experiences and insights on reporting on the justice system during this panel discussion. What happens when a judge orders journalists not to report on testimony given in open court? Or when attorneys whisper questions to prospective jurors during jury selection so journalists can’t hear? Just what are the restrictions on cameras and electronic devices in courtrooms? Is access getting better or worse? Learn the answers to these and other questions you may have pertaining to this vital and dynamic beat.


Don’t take “No” for an answer: 2:15 pm to 3:30 pm. Lewiston Sun Journal Managing Editor Judy Meyer will lead a session on how to use the full force of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act. Have you ever asked for access to public information and been denied? It happens too often, and if you don’t think you’re getting a straight answer, speak up. Learn how to pry public records loose and how to challenge government officials who refuse to release records. Judy will review public records laws, where to find records, how to ask for them and what to do when you’re told “no.” She knows this subject inside and out. Judy serves as vice-president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and is a member of the Right-To-Know Advisory Committee to the Legislature.

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