Join the celebration at TPA’s 140th convention

“Defining the Community Forum” is the theme for Texas Press Association’s 140th Convention and Trade Show Jan. 16-18 at Moody Gardens Hotel, Convention Center and Spa in Galveston.
With local news coverage and opinion pages, newspapers have been a community forum for generations. However, in recent years, local newspapers have been overshadowed by social media. When local readers rely on social media outlets and internet sources for news, they often find the information they are getting is not trustworthy. Unfortunately, in many communities it’s too late to turn back to their most trusted news source. Their newspapers are gone.
Instead of serving the local market, social media companies capitalize on the information they gather on users. While many government agencies claim to share information with citizens online and through social media, there’s no fact checking or analysis that real news coverage provides. 
Studies have shown how losing newspapers hurts local communities. When newspapers close, local government efficiency deteriorates and public debt costs rise because there’s no watchdog covering their activities. Without newspapers, readers lose a vital form of political engagement and voter turnout dwindles.
Because journalism is more important now than ever, newspapers are on a mission to reposition themselves as the trusted community forum. To that end, press associations and other newspaper groups across the country cooperated on a relevance study to develop a plan for newspapers to promote and refine their assets as hyperlocal news experts to take back and 
define the community forum. The study was conducted by Andy Cunningham of the Cunningham Collective, a firm specializing in marketing, branding and communication. “Defining the Community Forum” is the mission statement for the project.
TPA’s convention program will focus on programs designed to help newspapers assess and improve their editorial coverage and ideas for generating more revenue from advertising and other sources. The complete schedule and line-up of speakers will be announced soon.
The convention kicks off Thursday, Jan. 16, with the opening of the annual trade show featuring dozens of vendors, door prizes and demonstrations. Various group meetings are scheduled for the afternoon with the trade show opening reception beginning at 6 p.m., sponsored by eType Services.
Also featured in the trade show hall will be the annual silent auction benefiting the Texas Newspaper Foundation. Several sure-to-be-popular items have already been collected and more donations are welcome. Contact TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges, mhodges@texaspress.com, for information and to donate. A hospitality event is planned after the reception.
The trade show, sponsored by eType services, continues Friday, Jan. 17, from 7:30 until 11:30 a.m. The silent auction ends at 11:45 a.m. Friday’s luncheon, sponsored by Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, follows the trade show at 12:15 p.m. General session programs, including a legislative session review, fill the afternoon.    
TPA’s 140th convention also offers opportunities to celebrate the Texas newspaper industry’s past and current accomplishments through awards programs.
The Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership, awarded annually to a publisher or newspaper executive who contributed most significantly to society during the past year, will be presented at the Friday luncheon.
The annual Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and banquet are scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The foundation’s directors are meeting this month to select the 2019 inductees, whose contributions to their communities and the Texas newspaper industry will be celebrated. The Galveston County Daily News will host a hospitality event following the dinner.
Because the January event is now the association’s only convention/meeting of the year, the TPA membership will meet in general session at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18. During the assembly, the membership will elect officers and directors. In addition, member-led discussions are planned.
The closing brunch is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday when awards in the Texas Better Newspaper Contest will be presented.