America East Expands into Refurbished Quarters

Article excerpt

How sweet it will be for newspaper staffers in Hershey

Spring arrives a week late this year, as newspaper staffers converge on Hershey, Pa., March 29 through April 1 for the annual America East operations conference and trade show.

The gathering not only will be later but also will be larger. An expanded and refurbished convention center this year will house exhibitors on the same show floor. The larger facilities also will host a conference program that has grown beyond the handful of production and technology sessions of just a few years ago.

During that same time, the event has grown to include the New Media World two-morning symposium and the yearly print quality contest.

New this year are all-morning display (Tuesday) and classified advertising sales seminars (Wednesday).

Drawing a broad range of mostly midsized dailies, the event's regional appeal often even attracts a sprinkling of Canadians. Attendees and conference panel members typically also include representatives of weeklies and major metros.

Formerly occupying two levels of the convention center, the exposition will now bring together more than 135 exhibitors on 40,000 square feet of a single show floor. Though the trade show runs from noon Tuesday to noon Thursday, vendors can arrange private demonstrations before the show opens each morning.

User groups representing specific new media, prepress, press, and post-press systems take advantage of the occasion to meet, as does the Flexo Vendors Alliance and the Inter-State Circulation Managers' Association. And for the 16th year, newsprint suppliers will host a Tuesday evening reception.

New Media World will examine the impact of online publishing on every aspect of traditional newspapering and on one entirely new capability -- electronic commerce. The symposium leads off with a keynote address on just that subject and returns for a closer look the next day, along with a luncheon presentation on retailers' experience with online marketing.

Following Tuesday morning's keynote, sessions progress through all areas:

* Advertising -- holding on to advertisers who have their own Web sites

* Classified advertising -- using consumer research to support strategic decision-making, and organizing and managing an online classified venture

* Traditional journalism -- the impact of new digital technologies

* Newspaper delivery -- electronic delivery in a digital format

* Community publishing - supporting and encouraging online publishing by the community

* Design -- aspects of Web site design

Other sessions consider issues related to local online guides and directories, database publishing, a role for newspapers in the Internet's civic potential, and broadening internal access to a newspaper database. …