By: Stacy M. Brown / NNPA

Starting on February 1, 2023, the San Juan Marriott Beach Resort & Stelaris Casino in Puerto Rico will play host to the Midwinter Training Conference of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association for more than 230 African American-owned newspapers and media companies in the United States.

Salsa music and lessons, food, drinks, and a welcome message from NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, President & CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Convention Chair Terry B. Jones, and several NNPA partners and sponsors kick off the conference, which is appropriately titled “Digital Innovation, Training, and Engagement of the Black Press of America.”

On the second day, after breakfast, Black Press publishers and guests will participate in a workshop titled “Overcoming Challenges to Create Sustainable Business Outcomes Through Digital Transformation in the NNPA Digital Network (Part I).”

The discussion, to be led by Kate Cox, an adjunct professor at Florida’s Poynter Institute, promises to highlight the conference’s goals and engage in a more in-depth presentation tailored to NNPA member publishers.

For those interested in learning more about ATTR-CM, a rare heart condition that disproportionately affects African Americans, Pfizer, Inc. will host a luncheon and give a brief overview of the disease.

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Chavis and the president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Dorothy Tucker, plan a fireside chat to talk about how to improve communication between the NABJ and the NNPA.

The second installment of the earlier workshop is planned, during which time attendees plan to talk about the special demographics of the digital market, the challenges of hiring for it, and the new possibilities for making money there.

The workshop’s objective is to equip NNPA member publishers with the tools they need to implement the recommended audience, staffing, and consultant assessments, thereby increasing digital monetization.

The NNPA plans a series of events throughout the week in honor of Chavis, who will be presented with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the civil rights movement and cultural impact.

The film “Belly,” from 1998, which starred Chavis and the late hip hop icon DMX, will be shown in a special screening.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is hosting a breakfast on day three that will feature video presentations, an interview with Chavis, and Florida Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.
The NNPA’s Gates Foundation Education Grant manager, Dr. Elizabeth Primas, and Hyundai’s director of experiential marketing, Erik Thomas, will also participate.

Norman Rich, manager of the NNPA’s digital network, and Randy Fling, chief operating officer of Rolling Out, will lead a third workshop titled “5 Simple Strategies You Can Use to Monetize Your Online Presence.”

According to the NNPA’s events page, “the workshop will share detailed but simple learnings from the digital revenue generating success models of some of the NNPA member publishers,” with a “specific outlined focus” on Rolling Out’s “effectiveness and efficiencies” in the digital space.

Workshop number four will feature the Houston Forward Times’ Chelsea Lenora White and the Washington Informer’s Micha Green.

The duo plans to discuss digital content.

In this workshop, several Generation Z and Millennials are expected to share their ideas for ensuring the long-term financial health of the Black Press of America, with a particular emphasis on the role that digital transformation and new revenue streams playing in this equation.

Google News Lab’s US Partnerships Manager, Ashley Edwards, will give a talk titled “Google Tools for Newsrooms.”

Journalists will gain knowledge on how to use Google’s resources to find and verify stories that are relevant to their readers through this talk.

Next up is “3 Best Practices to Drive Traffic,” a presentation by Tina Xiao, Global Program Manager for Google News Initiative.

Xiao will discuss available GNI resources for news publishers to grow and sustain their digital businesses, and he will also share three best practices to drive online traffic.

Rebuild Local News Coalition chair Steven Walman will give a briefing on public policy discussions at the state and local levels that could significantly affect Black newspapers, including potential funding opportunities for community newsrooms.

At a gala on Friday, February 3, the NNPA will present Chavis with its Lifetime Achievement Award in front of many of his friends and family.

Details of the Chavis celebration have mostly been kept secret by the organizers.

The conference will conclude on Saturday, February 4 with a publisher’s think tank and breakfast.