WNA Community Newspaper Forum to explore community connections, engagement

EDITOR’S NOTE: This content is provided to Wisconsin Newspaper Association members

WNA Community Newspaper Forum to explore community connections, engagement

Julia Hunter, Contributor

Running a community newspaper comes with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. During the WNA Community Newspaper Forum, speakers will offer best practices and resources for creating community connections, funding journalism, growing your digital footprint & building trust through meaningful engagement.

The program, which is free to WNA members, will run from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21. Sign up below.

Forum Schedule

1:30 p.m.


Greetings from WNA Executive Director Beth Bennett and WNA President Gregg Walker, publisher of The Lakeland Times and The Northwoods River News.

1:40 p.m.

Creating connections: 6 steps to organizing a community forum

In order to thrive in today’s environment, newspapers must create vital connections with their audience. Community forums on issues of local importance can help build those important relationships while growing your audience, fostering civil discourse and building trust. In this session, Tom Silvestri, director of The Relevance Project and a former newspaper publisher who conducted 78 such community discussions, offers an outline for implementing the concept in just six simple steps.
– Tom Silvestri, director of The Relevance Project and former publisher of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch

2:30 p.m.

Community-funded journalism: Philanthropic options for newspapers & tips for success

As newspapers work to provide their communities with a critical public service, journalism funded by philanthropy can offer a promising path to sustainability. Julia Hunter, director of membership and communications for the WNA and co-founder of the nonprofit news outlet Hoptown Chronicle, will provide an overview of various philanthropic options available to for-profit local newspapers, including the WNA’s Community News Fund. She’ll also discuss strategies that are crucial to making this approach a success.
– Julia Hunter, WNA Membership and Communications Director; co-founder and engagement editor at Hoptown (Ky.) Chronicle

3:10 p.m.

Using your website to gain subscribers and grow revenue

Print isn’t dead, but print-only doesn’t cut it anymore. To survive, you have to engage with your whole community. In this session, Patrick Schless, chief technology officer for the Missouri-based Lewis County Press, will discuss the importance of broadening your digital footprint — and why it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming or complicated as you might think. Schless will also discuss the Community Journalism Project, a mission-based initiative from the makers of Workbench and Lewis County Press that is offering grants to help community papers grow and strengthen digital engagement and revenue.
– Patrick Schless, Chief Technology Officer, Lewis County Press

3:50 p.m.

Building trust and growing your audience through meaningful engagement

What is “audience engagement,” really? (Hint: It’s not when someone clicks on a story or likes a Facebook post.) This session will explore how small community publishers can build trust and grow their audience by implementing meaningful engagement strategies. It will review best practices and provide valuable resources to help shift your newsroom’s mindset and strengthen engagement efforts.
 Julia Hunter, WNA Membership and Communications Director; co-founder and engagement editor at Hoptown (Ky.) Chronicle