2018 Mega-Conference

Why young people are betting on journalism

Hear the story of how today's students will shape the future


Where will the next generation of journalists take the profession? During an opening day session at the 2018 Mega-Conference, see how both journalism schools and their students are preparing for a world that is rife with uncertainty.  The Mega-Conference will be held Feb. 26-28 in San Diego, Calif.

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USC Annenberg has been revamping its curriculum and encouraging its faculty to take more risks with the courses they offer. One of the key challenges is to find ways to experiment with creating journalism in untested formats – new data visualizations, content made for chat apps, wearables and so forth. The students are leading the charge, questioning some of the most fundamental conventions of the profession.

At this "Journalism of the Future" session, journalism students will describe why they are drawn to a profession in such a state of flux and describe how they see their careers unfolding.

The panel will be moderated by Gabriel Kahn, professor of journalism, Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Panelists will be:

Sam Bergum, a senior at USC Annenberg studying broadcast and digital journalism. As an executive producer for ATVN, the school's live nightly newscast, she leads multi-platform local and breaking news coverage for a new generation of news consumers. After graduation, she plans to work as a local news producer.

Gabriela Fernandez, a senior at USC, where she is majoring in broadcast journalism and narrative studies. During her time at USC she has dabbled in many forms of storytelling, including writing, radio and video. She has served as the USC chapter president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and has interned at the Los Angeles Business Journal, NBC Nightly News, CBS's Investigate Unit and MONEY Magazine. She plans to continue reporting and writing while pursuing creative ways to use social media and audience engagement to tell compelling stories.

James Tyner, a junior studying journalism at USC Annenberg and the managing editor for digital storytelling at USC Annenberg Media, a multi-platform student news organization at the school. He develops journalism products for mobile and digital audiences and works to foster audience trust through user experiences. He has led an effort to restructure the Annenberg newsroom and launch products such as an iOS app, Snapchat news show and email newsletter. Tyner's writing on products and trust has been featured in the American Press Institute "Need to Know" newsletter.

Gabriel Kahn, our moderator, has worked as a newspaper correspondent and editor for two decades, including 10 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he served as Los Angeles bureau chief, deputy Hong Kong bureau chief and deputy Southern Europe bureau chief, based in Rome. He has reported from more than a dozen countries on three continents.

In 1998, Kahn launched Italy Daily, a joint venture of the International Herald Tribune and Corriere della Sera, based in Milan, Italy. He has covered the U.S. Congress for the Washington, D.C.,-based Roll Call, and served as an editor and writer at The Forward, in New York City. He joined USC Annenberg in the fall of 2010, where he jointly runs the Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship program. The goal of M{2e} is to bolster students' understanding of economics and encourage innovation and experimentation with new ideas in communication and journalism. Kahn studies the economic models of the news industry and consults with startups and established news companies on strategy. He currently serves on the advisory board of the news startup Worldcrunch.

The 2018 Mega-Conference will have more than three dozen sessions for attendees to choose from – offering an array of professional development opportunities with something for everyone.

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The Key Executives Mega-Conference is a joint effort of the Inland Press Association, Local Media Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, News Media Allliance and the California News Publishers Association.

In its eighth year, Mega-Conference attendance ranges from 700-900 attendees. Most of the attendees are owners, publishers, digital officers or revenue officers of media operations with both print and digital assets, serving their local communities.  A sizable trade show is associated with the conference.



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