The Mario Blog
Digital Media Conference: First Day highlights

The two-day Digital Media North America 2017 conference, sponsored by WAN IFRA, has concluded its first day. Here are some things that resonate with speakers and audience alike. Think digital transformation and monetization efforts.

This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. The next blog post is Monday, Oct. 23.

Digital Media North America

Digital transformation in the newsroom leads the list of subjects discussed by a majority of the speakers at the Digital Media North America 2017 conference in New York City Oct. 19-20. About 150 executives and editors from 16 countries have converged at the Thomson Reuters building on Times Square.

Perhaps the second most discussed topic is monetization: how to convert casual readers into paying subscribers.

I have streamed the highlights of the various sessions via Tweeter @DrMarioRGarcia and will continue to do so today Friday.  The summaries below are based on my Tweets.


It’s all about the story

I was happy to hear repeatedly that it is all about quality content, the story.  The rest is secondary. The one element that has not changed since I started my career: with a good story, everything is possible. Most importantly, the audience stays with you—and is more likely to want to pay for the content.

Nick Hugh, The Telegraph, UK: A combination of good quality journalism and getting customer data, key to model maintainable into future. Quality journalism drives strong, trusted relationships.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post:  Good journalism is what it is all about, no matter what strategy you apply.


On storytelling strategies

I was fascinated by the presentation by Emilio Garcia Ruiz, of The Washington Post, perhaps one of the most successful digital transformations in the newspaper business:

 Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: : Rotating from a text base message to one that is visual..

Learning from Snapchat


I am not surprised that several of the speakers mentioned Snapchat as a source of inspiration for reaching younger audiences with their established products.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: : The Future is Visual. Teenagers text messages have all but text. A visual world.

On technology


Louis Dreyfus, CEO , LeMonde : Important to have technologies that support performance; optimize experience, shorten response time.


On branding


Nick Hugh, The Telegraph, UK: Trust and reputation count. We play to our strengths. Always looking to the future. Positive headwinds, brand which drives the future.

On gaining subscribers





  • : There is an opportunity now to sell our product; we need to sell subscriptions.

     Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: We have an opportunity now to make people reconsider their relationship with the media.

The question came up about what is the one moment when a casual reader decides to become a subscriber:

          Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: It’s a case by case basis on that conversion moment when reader subscribes.

                      Is the story you are reading now the conversion moment? Or past stories?

Good advice


  1. Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: Stop things that are not working. Make hard decisions that free you to do the next thing.

    Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: Integrate product team into the newsroom.

    Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: Failures are opportunities to learn. WE all have an app or something that didn’t work. Learn & move on.
    Esfand Pourmand, Hearst Newspapers Digital: Use a 90 day window for testing, not 30 days. Better opportunity to evaluate behavior.

    On the importance of collaborations

    Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: There must be true collaboration between news and product. Great ideas can come from anywhere. Help best ideas.

    Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: Gain deeper audience knowledge; track how stories are performing. Ambitious but worth it.

     Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: We are trying to connect our content to the people who wanted. Newsletters ideal for that.
     Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: Metrics matter–come up with your own metrics to really gauge audience data.

    Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: Get away from the “end of the day” turning in of stories, which is so print centric.

     Jennifer Hicks, Wall Street Journal: Make direct connections with readers. Reorient the newsroom to tailored publishing times.

     Who we should hire

     Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: We have hired people into our newsroom who had no idea what A1 was and didn’t care.

     Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: Reorient your newsroom to a more visual hiring. Begin hiring digital first journalists.

    Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: Designing for mobile first, then figure out what to do with same content for desktop, etc.

    Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: New way of thinking, creating experiences that can be consumed in 5 min. or 2 hours.

    Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: For us–Desktop 26% of audience, Mobile 74%. People consuming content while doing various things.

    Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Washington Post: The Perfect Reader Journey–asks: have you begun to strategize which journey you wish to take.

    The quote that summarizes the first day of the conference

    “What an eye-opening day. I wasn’t expecting an editor from Denmark to talk about performance targets and a CEO from The Telegraph to be pivoting from print revenues to travel and financial services. The news business is full of surprises — some very exciting, like new storytelling formats that package words and images into simple, shareable bursts. Wasn’t it yesterday that we were head over heels about long-form storytelling? It will be fun to see all of this play out.”

    Joe Zeff Design, Inc.

    The winners of the Digital Media Awards 2017




Best website: The Washington Post

Special Mention: The New York Times






Best in Lifestyle/Entertainment/Sports Website: The New York Times (Rio Olympics)

Special Mention: Univision USA







Best News Mobile Service: La Presse+ (Montreal)

Special Mention: J5, Le Journal de Montreal





Best Data Visualization: The Globe & Mail (Unfounded()

Special Mention: The Washington Post, Election 2016

In accepting the award:

“We have been intimidated by data for too long….when you use data for a story, you provide a better conversation with the audience. Commit yourself, slow down and deliver the content the audience craves. We are honored.”

David Walmsley, Editor in Chief

Globe and Mail




Best digital advertising campaign: Le Devoir, Je Soutains 

Special MentionThe Weather Channel, 5 in 5




Best Innovation New Product: Arc Publishing, The Washington Post

Special Mention: La Presse+, Montreal, Canada




Best in Social Media Engagement: Splinter, USA, The Fight at Standing Rock

Special Mention: The Washington Post






Best in Engaging Young Audiences: NBC Universal USA

Special Mention: The Hamilton Spectator, Canada




Best Use of Online Video:Alabama Media Group (Whitman, Alabama)

Special Mention: The New York Times (Daily 360)




  1. For more information about the conference



This two-day event, organized jointly by WAN-IFRA and the News Media Alliance (NMA), will provide a unique opportunity for North American news media executives to hear and discuss digital revenue strategyfrom the world’s most advanced media companies.

Finalists in the Digital Media contest 2017



Our digital transformation workshops

If you would like to find out more about our workshops for digital transformation, email me:

I will be happy to answer your questions and provide more information. Our workshops are offered in both English and Spanish.



Mario’s Speaking Engagements

Oct. 19-20, WAN IFRA Digital Media North America, New York City

Nov. 16-19, WAN IFRA Latin America, Buenos Aires, Argentina

April 18-19, 2018-Newscamp ,Augsburg,  Germany.



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Contact us with speaking requests, questions or to discuss a project.