2019 Sessions & Speakers

2019 Sessions & Speakers


Watch this space for updates for the 2019 Convention programming.


2018 Speakers and Sessions listed below – 2019 coming soon!


Gubernatorial Candidate Forum Friday (8:00-9:30 a.m.)
This forum is intended to provide candidates running for governor an opportunity to share with newspaper owners, editors, and employees their perspectives and views on Minnesota’s rural policies and the state of rural Minnesota generally. This forum is not set up to be a candidate debate or a straw poll; rather an opportunity for individual candidates to inform attendees about their positions and priorities for the state if elected. Moderated by TPT’s MaryLahammer, this event is sponsored by Compeer Financial and co-hosted by MNA and the Center for Rural Policy and Development.

Use this link/survey to send in any question(s) you may have for the candidates: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GovForum

Luncheon Keynote from Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Thursday (Noon)
Marilyn Carlson Nelson is the former chair and CEO of Carlson, a global travel company. Under her leadership, Carlson was the first major North American travel and hospitality company to take a stand on the sexual exploitation of children in the travel industry. Nelson serves as Chair of the Minnesota Orchestra, Chair of Inspire Medical and Secretary of the Nation Endowment for Democracy and Co-Chair of the Minnesota Super Bowl Committee. Nelson is also a former board member of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Exxon Mobile, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the United Nations Global Compact. She is former chair of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees.

Better Newspaper Contest Banquet
Thursday (6:30 p.m.)
This annual event honors the winners of the 2016-17 Better Newspaper Contest. Guests are seated at 6:30 p.m. for dinner. The awards program will begin at 7:15 p.m., concluding by 10:00 p.m. It’s a festive celebration of the Minnesota newspaper industry’s accomplishments. Cash bars will be available through the end of the event. Registration required.

Luncheon Keynote from Cheryl Reeve
Friday (Noon)
Cheryl Reeve has successfully coached the MN Lynx to four WNBA league championships. She was named General Manager of the Lynx, coach of the year in 2011 and is coming off of the most prolific eight-year run in the WNBA history having compiled 195 wins over that same period. Before joining the WNBA coaching ranks, Reeve spent 12 years coaching collegiately, including head coast at Indiana State. Coach Reeve got her start in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting in 2001, as an assistant coach. Reeve excelled athletically and academically at La Salle, graduating with a degree in computer science/management information systems and is a Rhodes Scholar nominee.

2018 Speaker Bios (in alphabetical order)

Advertising Revenue Ideas on Tap
Thursday (Afternoon)
Back by popular demand! Moderated by Jody Hanson & Tina McMillan of the Alexandria Echo Press, this engaging advertising networking session focuses on innovation, collaboration & celebration. Every attendee willing to share their most creative advertising revenue–generating idea receives a prize. We’ve got cash, gift cards, and even free beverage vouchers that can be used immediately or during the convention. There will also be an opportunity to “upsize your prize” by playing a quick pub game. For those attending only to listen & learn, a cash bar will also be available should you get thirsty (or need a little extra encouragement to stand up and share). The goal of this session is to have a robust dialogue in a fun atmosphere where advertising aficionados can talk openly about concepts that are working in their markets to drive new revenue and steal precious precious dollars from the competition.
Advertising Revenue Ideas on Tap_Submission Summary  Arts and Crafters Tour  Black Friday Wrap  Coupon Book  Generations Magazine  40 under 40

Mark Anfinson / Legal Update
Friday (Afternoon)
Mark is the long-time attorney for MNA, and a widely acknowledged expert in media, communications, and First Amendment law. He has not only acted on behalf of MNA, but has also directly represented many journalists and news organizations throughout the state on issues involving public access to government records and meetings, access to courts, libel, privacy, reporter’s privilege, intellectual property, advertising, and internet law.
2018 Legal Update


Julie Bergman / Buying, Selling, Valuing and Financing Newspaper Properties
Friday (Morning)

Julie heads up the Midwest Region for W.B. Grimes & Company. She has been a newspaper publisher for 30+ years and is co-owner of Page 1 Publications, a group of four community newspapers in Northwestern Minnesota with her husband. Julie is a Past President of the Minnesota Newspaper Association as well as the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation. She is also Minnesota State Chair for the National Newspaper Association and serves on the Publisher’s Auxiliary Committee. In 2016 Julie and her husband, Rollin, were awarded the Al McIntosh Distinguished Service to Journalism award, the highest honor given by the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Throughout her career, Julie has been honored with state and national awards in all aspects of the newspaper business. In 2013 she received Emma C. McKinney Award, the highest honor given to a woman publisher by the National Newspaper Association. She resides in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, with her husband Rollin.

Mike Bialka / Sports Reporting in a Changing Environment
Friday (Afternoon)
Brainerd Dispatch Sports Editor Mike Bialka serves as moderator for this informative sports reporting session covering the challenges of daily and weekly sports coverage for youth, high school and college teams. Bialka, a veteran of 40 years in sports journalism, was the recipient of the Minnesota State High School League’s Outstanding Media Service Award for excellence and commitment in coverage of high school activities. Bialka was also inducted into the Brainerd High School Warriors Hall of Fame (2011), a recipient of the National Girls and Women in Sports Media Award presented at the state capitol (2009) and winner of 27 Minnesota Associated Press Sports Association writing awards. Bialka will be joined by veteran daily sports reporter Tom Elliott (St. Cloud Times Media) and weekly newspaper sports reporters Jason Groth (Wadena Pioneer) and Jason Olson (ECM Publishers, Inc.). Among the topics to be covered in this session include: sports reporting in a changing environment, tackling diverse coverage needs for print and digital stories, plus video and social media reports.

Chad Chelus / Adobe Tools & Technology
Friday (Morning/Afternoon)

Chad has been using Adobe software for more than 20 years and has been a contributing author to numerous books on Adobe print applications. As an Adobe Certified Instructor, he teaches classes on Adobe applications and speaks at conference throughout the United States. Chad has helped major publishing clients to implement Adobe software into their business process and has assisted them in streamlining their workflows. His trial-by-fire experience in the print and web industries makes him a valuable trainer to his clients.


Carrie Cole / Using Digital Technology to Grow Circulation Revenue
Friday (Morning)
Carrie Cole is the Emerging Media and Special Projects Director for the Dakota Media Group. She is 38 years old and has been a part of the digital media team in Aberdeen for 10 years. She has managed a paid website transition for AberdeenNews.com, three online content management system changes, three e-edition rollouts, and developed and managed 15 plus app submissions. She is also responsible for all social media accounts for AberdeenNews.com and ThePublicOpinion.com. Outside of the newspaper business, Carrie is the Vice President of the foundation board for Safe Harbor, a domestic abuse shelter in Aberdeen. She has three young children (7, 2 and 5 months) and is a volunteer basketball coach. She doesn’t need help from co-worker Tyler Oliver to reach things on the top shelf, and will respond to “tall girl” if you forget her name.
Using Digital Technology to Grow Circ Revenue

Ryan Dohm / Habits of Super Star Media Sales Execs & Digital Sales Strategy Sessions
Friday (Morning/Afternoon)

Ryan is the creator of the Selling Backwards and 360 Ad Sales System used by thousands of sales executives around the world. He has been a part of over $500 million in sales revenues, overseen nearly 2,000 web site builds and has been hired as a professional business speaker over 1,000 times! Ryan has entrenched himself in the sales and marketing business having held leadership positions at The NY Times Company, Morris Communications, The PennWell Company and Disney/ABC TV. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker, an Emmy winner, a business book author and has been featured in USA Today and on Forbes.com. Ryan currently works on a monthly basis with over 75 companies and their related sales and management teams.
Selling Traditional Media To Haters  Super Star Selling Habits
10 Proven Sales Strategies  50 Revenue Ideas

Jim Elsberry / Anatomy of a Sales Conversation & Practical Sales Management
Thursday (Morning/Afternoon)

Jim has enjoyed a career of more than 30 years in newspaper publishing, group management, public speaking, education and private consulting. He is a recognized speaker on management, marketing, advertising and sales training and has addressed groups in 30 states ranging from private enterprises and state industry associations to the Inland Daily Press Association in Chicago and the American Press Institute in Reston, Virginia. His Anatomy of a Sales Conversation and Practical Sales Management programs have been used across the country to better connect potential customers with local businesses. Jim has held management and publishing positions with newspapers in five different states as well as being a Vice President and group manager for Southern Newspapers based out of Houston, TX. He was the publisher of the Greeley, Colorado, Tribune and Regional Manager for the Northern Colorado Communications Group for nine years.
Anatomy of Sales Conversation     Practical Sales Management

David Griffin / Loews Hotel Luxury Customer Service Culture
Thursday (Afternoon)
David graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, with a degree in Broadcast Marketing. His Father was President of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, so he has a background of journalism and broadcasting. After graduating, he was Director of Communications for the Missouri Rural Electric Cooperatives, and then shortly after, began a career in hotels. David spent 15 years with the Marriott Corporation in the Midwest, the last 6 years as a Director of Sales and Marketing in Lexington, Kentucky and St. Louis, Missouri. Marriott was a great teacher of customer service. David spent the next 6 years with The American Club in Kohler Wisconsin, a 5 Star Diamond Hotel, where great customer service was a necessity or you risked losing your rating. After a stint as a General Manager at The American Club, he have moved back into the field of Sales and Marketing, now with the Loews Minneapolis, a luxury property in downtown Minneapolis.

Doug Griffiths / 13 Ways to Kill Your Community
Thursday (Afternoon)
Doug Griffiths is the President and CEO of 13 Ways, Inc., a company he founded to provide consultation to struggling North American communities. He is a public speaker and co-author of the book 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, now in its 2nd edition. This book has become the go-to manual for community building in North America. He is an instructor with the Executive Education program at the University of Alberta School of Business. In this session, Doug discusses what he does: helping to build better communities. Doug believes communities are the foundation on which we build stronger families, stronger businesses, and stronger nations. Build strong communities, and success will follow. He helps communities identify what is holding them back from finding success, and then he helps them overcome it. When they aren’t looking, Doug inspires, and often shocks them, with a presentation showing how they are destroying their own chance at success. Then he helps build them back up and get them on a better path. Yes, it sounds like therapy. It is. It is community therapy, which is why he is often called a community therapist. And the great thing is that it works.
13 Ways – Chapters

Laurie Hartmann / Recruitment Strategies to Attract Talent & Expectations of Different Generations
Thursday (Morning)
Laurie currently serves as publisher of four Scott County newspapers affiliated with Southwest News Media and Red Wing Publishing. She earned a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Concordia University in 2012, and in recent years assumed responsibility for recruitment, onboarding and engagement of employees at the company’s 11 Minnesota newspapers. She is well-versed in current recruitment trends, performance management and differences/expectations of up to four generations that are now part of today’s workforce.

John Hatcher / Improve Writing Skills & Storytelling on Deadline
Thursday (Morning/Afternoon)
John is a journalism professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. He was the education director at the Center for Community Journalism in upstate New York. From 1992 to 2003, he worked for The Daily Messenger, a small daily newspaper in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. In the morning session focused on becoming a better reporter, writer and editor, participants will be asked to share examples of their best work in a lively discussion about what conditions journalists require to thrive and improve as community storytellers and what challenges we have to overcome to make that happen. The afternoon session will challenge journalists to identify strategies in their own daily and weekly reporting routines that will help them discover and produce compelling, narrative-driven stories.

Brad Hill / Postal Issues and Cost Saving Ideas
Thursday (Morning)
Brad Hill is the president at Interlink, a Michigan-based independent software company focused on meeting the needs of community newspapers in the areas of circulation, delivery and ad management. Initially hired as a network engineer, Brad’s 14 years with the company have seen him in a number of roles including sales, customer service, project management and product development. For the past decade, Brad has worked closely with Interlink’s developers on postal presort logic, address sequencing systems and integrating various USPS services. In 2011, he was invited to represent the National Newspaper Association on USPS’ Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee, focusing on technical issues such as electronic documentation and Intelligent Mail bar codes. Brad has a passion for helping newspapers reduce postage and achieve optimal delivery using the Postal Service, and frequently liaises between mailers and the USPS regarding acceptance issues and other disputes.

Chris Ison / Doubling Down on Ethical Issues in Print, Online & Social Media
Friday (Morning)
Chris is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching news reporting and media ethics. He spent more than 20 years as a reporter and editor, mostly in the Investigative Projects Unit at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1990 for a series about the St. Paul Fire Department’s links to people who profited from arson. He was the paper’s assistant managing editor for investigative projects from 2001 – 2004. He is co-author of a textbook on media ethics. In this session, Chris discusses how whether it’s fair or not, mainstream journalism is under fire more than ever. And difficult decisions are made quicker than ever. That makes it more important than ever to establish a foundation for ethical decision-making in the newsroom. This session will use real case studies to examine and apply sound ethical values, principles and processes that can be used every day, in every newsroom.

Pete Mohs / Potpourri Discussion on Relevant Newspaper Topics
Thursday (Morning)

Pequot Lakes Echo Journal and Brainerd Dispatch Publisher Pete Mohs serves as moderator for this informative 2018 MNA convention session that focuses on a diverse list of newspaper topics like monetizing mobile page views, leveraging Facebook audiences, growing help wanted advertising revenue and instituting paywalls. 
Great feedback was gained for many of these similar questions by attendees at the 2017 MNA Dailies meeting last fall. This informative session is beneficial for both daily and weekly newspaper operations. Mohs, the 2014 president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association board of directors, has worked in newspaper management, advertising sales and news reporting since 1976.



Tyler Oliver / Using Digital Technology to Grow Circulation Revenue
Friday (Morning)
Tyler Oliver is the Marketing Director for the Dakota Media Group, a part of the Schurz Communications family. At only 31 years of age he has already been in the newspaper industry for 10 years. He began as a multi-media graphic designer for the American News (Aberdeen, SD) and grew into a role as the Marketing Manager where his duties included brand management/development, event planning and multi-media marketing. He is active in his community through the YMCA, Alumni Board for Northern State University and various chamber committees. Tyler is also routinely mistaken for Edward Cullen from the Twilight Series, and frequently gives in to requests to help grocery store shoppers reach things on the top shelf.
Using Digital Technology to Grow Circ Revenue


Steve Wrobel / Kwik Trip Customer Service Culture
Thursday (Afternoon)
Join Steve Wrobel, Public Relations, as he shares the background to Kwik Trip’s culture and customer service. Kwik Trip began in Wisconsin in 1965. Since that time Kwik Trip has grown to 570 stores with 19,000 coworkers in three states and has been named a Top Workplace in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Kwik Trip not only serves customers with convenient, clean retail stores, but also produces and distributes more than 80% of the products featured in the stores through its own commissary, bakery, dairy and transportation fleet.

Michael Zinser / Circulation Legal Issues
Thursday (Morning)
Michael Zinser is President of The Zinser Law Firm, P.C., in Nashville, Tennessee. His Firm represents over 250 daily newspapers, stretching geographically from Hawaii to New York. Michael is General Counsel to seven circulation trade associations. Michael and his firm have represented and defended newspapers on the independent contractor issue in 40 of the 50 states. The Zinser Law Firm has drafted hundreds of Independent Contractor Agreements for newspapers, helping companies structure independent contractor relationships with their newspaper distributors and freelance writers and photographers.