The ROUNDTABLE uniquely combines case studies, education, experience and research in tackling a diverse range of issues related to the media business model and industry transformation. This event puts an unparalleled emphasis on interaction. Unlike the traditional conference setting, The ROUNDTABLE is a series of discussions led by faculty members that have “been there, done that.” They will share their business challenges, their approaches to resolving those challenges, and the results they have achieved – followed by a conversation about whether or not it makes business sense for the rest of the folks in the room.

You are invited to stay apprised of updates to the 2017 agenda by joining The ROUNDTABLE @ Vail LinkedIn Group.


7:00am          Golfers meet in the lobby for departure to Sonnenalp Golf Club

10:00am        Hikers meet in the lobby

3:30pm          The ROUNDTABLE “Shark Tank”

The media is a technology-driven business. Innovation is pervasive – from the manner in which content is produced and distributed to the plethora of ways by which it is monetized and transacted. Success is dependent upon embracing technical innovation and putting it to work in growing, engaging and profiting from audiences.

The first-ever ROUNDTABLE “Shark Tank” welcomes a select group of below-the-radar, bleeding-edge industry partners and innovators to make their 10-minute pitch to ROUNDTABLE participants. The list of participating companies includes Paytime, AdKiosk, Tru Measure, Calkins Digital and World Book.

5:30pm          Welcome Reception


8:00am          Welcome & Introductions

8:30am          The Keynote: Earl Wilkinson, Executive Director & CEO, INMA

10:00am       The Executive Roundtable

Denise Warren, Founder/CEO of Netlyst and former digital head for The New York Times and Tribune Company, will moderate a panel of senior newsmedia executives in a discussion of their innovative efforts to diversify revenue and transform their business models. Confirmed: Graciela Eleta (CEO, GFR Media), Jim Moroney (Publisher/CEO, The Dallas Morning News), Peter Doucette (Chief Consumer Revenue Officer, Boston Globe Media)

12:00pm        Lunch

1:00pm          Audience Pivot: From Archaic to Advanced in Akron

Mark Cohen, the publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal, is leading a transformation of the ABJ’s approach to audience optimization. That approach is putting an emphasis on metrics, automation and accountability with an anticipated outcome that delivers significant reductions in customer attrition, operational expense and marketing inefficiencies. Mark will explain the rationale behind the decisions and the detail of the forthcoming journey.

1:45pm          The Customer Engagement Funnel

The ways consumers engage with brands and media companies have dramatically shifted over the past twenty years.  Matt Coen, co-founder and president of Second Street, will discuss how media companies are strategically positioning themselves for revenue growth from consumers and advertisers by converting their audiences from anonymous browsers to a known email database.

3:00pm         Media Transformation: Where Local Media Companies are Placing Their Bets

The Local Media Association has hosted three Innovation Missions so far in 2017. In addition to the technology company visits, these tours included a mix of very progressive newspaper, TV, radio and digital-only media companies including Gannett, Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Nexstar/Lin Digital, The Boston Globe, the McClatchy Video Lab, GateHouse Media/ThriveHive, Spirited Media/Billy Penn, Entercom Communications, the Texas Tribune, Emmis Communications and more.

It was interesting to see how different companies were approaching media transformation. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. One thing was clear: companies are picking a direction and making their bets. They are supporting these decisions with data and research and they are investing at appropriate levels.

In this session, LMA President Nancy Lane will share some of the top bets being made by the most progressive broadcast and newspaper companies. She will be joined by Stephanie Slagle, VP Digital, WBNS/Columbus, who will share her company’s media transformation strategy. She will also cover what she learned from attending the big IM and how they are using that experience to further tweak their strategy. Bob Brown, President, Swift Communications, will also share his company’s approach to transformation. Swift sent six people on the various IM’s, including Brown on the Boston trip, and they too have incorporated much of what they have learned into their strategy.

As a bonus, all ROUNDTABLE participants will receive a free copy of the big IM report, 48 pages filled with great information and actionable takeaways.

4:30pm          Lengthening the Runway through Acquisitions and Outsourcing

Tribune has been actively involved in acquisitions over the last 5 years, especially where strategic/geographic synergies are present. Moreover, as revenues tighten, the company has turned to outsourcing for needed cost reductions. In 2016, Tribune successfully outsourced its’ entire IT operation.

Phil Spencer, Director/Advertising, Finance & HR, will share insights into the Tribune strategy and what we might look for in the months ahead.


8:00am          Consolidation of R&D Partners: What It Means for Local Media

Consolidation is top-of-mind for R&D partners that service our local media industry. Charity Huff, managing Partner at Maroon Ventures, has been directly involved in several M&A activities, witnessing first-hand the local media advertising and marketing tech consolidation. She will share her perspective on:

  • What criteria is being used to evaluate these opportunities
  • Who is actively playing in the consolidation
  • What it all means for local media companies

8:30am        The ROUNDTABLE Case Study: Digital Transformation at Axel Springer

As of 2016, Mathias Dopfner, chief executive officer (CEO) of Axel Springer SE, had successfully transitioned the German publishing house through a major digital transformation in the world of journalism. Given the massive disruption that had occurred over the previous two decades with how people consumed news, this was no small feat. During this time, many newspapers, magazines, and journals failed to keep up with the rapidly changing industry. Historically, print advertising constituted the majority of revenue for large publishers. But the digital revolution in journalism meant that print advertising revenues dropped precipitously. This downward trend in print advertising revenues happened around the globe, with traditional publishers cutting thousands of jobs. Many publishers were forced to declare bankruptcy during this period. In spite of these industry headwinds, Axel Springer was thriving. Dopfner had transformed Axel Springer through a two-stage digital transformation strategy process. Starting in 2006, Axel Springer first focused on organic growth and late-stage digital acquisitions, which infused digitization into Axel Springer’s corporate culture. In 2013, the second stage centered around Dopfner’s mission to become ‘The Leading Digital Publisher’; Axel Springer would be defined not by its distribution channels, but by its (content) brands and services. Having successfully transformed Axel Springer from a print-only company to a thriving print and digital media conglomerate, Dopfner wanted to accelerate Axel Springer’s growth even further. He believed that Axel Springer was well positioned to succeed not only in their core German market, but also more broadly on the world stage. Yet he knew this path to becoming a global media powerhouse would not be straightforward, especially given the rapid changes occurring within the media and publishing realm. In a world in which people were consuming content from a variety of sources – traditional print media and digital news sources, such as social media, e-mail, news alerts, or mobile applications – Axel Springer would continuously need to assess how it provided content to consumers as well as who it considered competition.

Dr. Paul Wang, associate professor at the Northwestern Media Center at Northwestern University, will lead participants in an insightful, interactive and entertaining discussion regarding Axel Springer’s approach to renovating its business model. Among the questions to be discussed:

  • Is cannibalization a viable response to digital disruption?
  • What is the role of acquisitions and divestitures in digital transformation?
  • How must culture and HR policies evolve to support the digital strategy?

12:00pm        Lunch

1:00pm          The Pioneer News Group’s Microsoft Partnership & Tablet Initiative

After forging a partnership with Microsoft and two years of development, the Seattle-based Pioneer News Group has been selling digital subscriptions and providing Windows-based tablets in a handful of its markets for nearly a year. COO Eric Johnston will share details on the project genesis, the successes and struggles and information about who’s buying.

1:30pm          Treating the Customer as a Strategic Asset: Multi-Platform Audience Growth at The Day

Digital subscription growth often comes at the expense of print readership. Such is not the case in New London, CT where The Day has seen a 20% growth rate in Digital membership while maintaining its print base. The company has put focus on the customer rather than the platform while recognizing that consumer monetization in the digital era is an evolutionary process requiring activation, engagement and value-exchange to drive loyalty. Perhaps most importantly, The Day has resisted the temptation to compromise customer relationships through incremental charges, pricing actions, forced buys, etc., and have treated them like the strategic assets they are. Chief Revenue Officer Michael Moses shares the story.

2:00pm          McClatchy: Leveraging Data to Re-Define the Advertising Business Model

After nearly three decades of talking up the notion of “Data-Driven” revenue, it has now become mainstream. Ironically, we simultaneously face the challenges of disruption and the end of advertising as we’ve come to know it. Darrell Kunken, Director of Research for Bee Media in Sacramento, will share his expert perspective as to why “the end of advertising as we know it” doesn’t mean “the end of advertising.” Instead, it means a refined model of relevance and accountability driven by customer knowledge.

2:30pm          “Habit” as a Strategy

Over the past few years, the news media has aggressively invested in digital marketing strategies to increase our audiences. Many leverage the power of Facebook, endeavor to ensure good user experiences, and constantly manage our SEO. That is, we employ good digital marketing tactics everyday to build our audiences.

But what is the loyalty of these audiences we are building? In recent years we’ve seen a decrease in the value of digital advertising and more focus placed on the consumer side of our revenue model. In order to generate revenue from our readers we need loyal readers. How do we move those readers that simply bump into our content on Facebook to become loyal to our brand?

In this session, VP/Digital Audience Stephanie Weber discusses how to strategically influence consumers to make your products a habit and become loyal readers.

3:30pm          The ROUNDTABLE 25-Year Anniversary Party @ BOL Vail

Participants will celebrate the 25-year history of The ROUNDTABLE with a blowout party at Vail’s upscale bowling and dining destination, BOL Vail. The bowling won’t be serious, but the celebration will. Food, beverages and, yes, bowling, is included. (Bowling isn’t mandatory, but fun is)