February 26-28 in san diego

A program ripped from the headlines


With programming by Inland and other associations known for keeping their members abreast of the latest industry developments with practical, actionable information, past Key Executives Mega-Conference programs have always presented a timely take on the urgent issues of the day.

But the 2018 Mega-Conference program seems not just timely—but practically clairvoyant in the way so many sessions line up with unfolding media industry events.

Consider this general session scheduled for Tuesday afternoon: “Facebook meets the press” presented by Alex Hardiman, head of news products for Facebook.

On Jan. 21—just a month before Hardiman’s Mega-Conference session—Facebook announced it would make dramatic changes to its news feed, favoring content liked or shared by a user over branded content from publishers.

Newspapers and other media fear that the changes will sending their audience numbers tumbling—as it has in a couple of Latin American nations where Facebook tested the changes. They also fear that it will cut into the revenue they came make from Facebook, especially from custom produced and branded videos that are most media companies top source of revenue on the social media giant with margins of 50% and upward after expenses for production and paid media.

Hardiman, who leads the product and engineering teams for News, is scheduled to discuss how the company is collaborating with publishers to build news products through its Facebook Journalism Project. The former marketer and manager of products for The New York Times now “oversees news experiences for Facebook’s two billion monthly users,” the mega-conference.com website notes.

Another general session at the Mega-Conference focuses on a subject that has been a burning issue since the U.S. presidential campaign, but that in recent weeks has been top-of-mind in the media because it seems to be having more real-life consequence: “Fake news.”

In a single day in late January, a man was arrested for allegedly threatening to murder staff at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters because of its “fake news,” and the pope condemned “fake news” as comparable to the “crafty serpent” who lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The panel discussion schedule for the opening day of Mega-Conference, “Real tools for combatting fake news,” will be moderated by David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance. For the first time, NMA is joining Inland, the Local Media Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association at the Mega-Conference. The California Newspaper Publishers Association is also a host for the meeting in San Diego Feb. 26-28.

The complete program can be found on the Mega-Conference website, www.mega-conference.com.