Past Events

Past Events 

Here’s where we’ll let you know about past events and give you links to material we’ve presented. Learn more about Saving Community Journalism by hearing what the author and others featured in the book have to say.



Jan. 24

Texas Press Association Midwinter Conference

Galveston, TX, Saturday, January 24

Saving Community Journalism:  The Digital Challenges - And Opportunities - Facing Community Newspapers



Nov. 14

New Jersey Press Association 2014 Annual Meeting

Monroe Township, NJ, Friday, Nov. 14

Saving Community Journalism:  The Digital Challenges - And Opportunities - Facing Community Newspapers

Nov. 21

The Walter. B. Potter Sr. Conference: Innovation and Transformation in Community Newspapers

Columbia, MO, Friday, Nov. 21

Saving Community Journalism:  The Digital Challenges - And Opportunities - Facing Community Newspapers


Oct. 3

Jones Media, Inc. 2014 Meeting

Greenville, TN, Friday, Oct. 3

Saving Community Journalism: A Strategy for Independent Newspaper Owners

Description:  This presentation outlined strategies that independent owners can use to keep their newspapers surviving and thriving in today's market.

Oct. 6

SNPA News Industry Summit 2014

Charlottesville, Virginia, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, October 6-8, Monday - Wednesday

Saving Community Journalism: The Path to the Future

Oct. 9

NENPA Fall Conference 2014

New England Newspaper & Press Association, Natick, MA, Thursday, Oct. 9

Saving Community Journalism:  Yes, local newspapers can survive and even thrive in this digital era

Oct. 20

Inland Press Association 129th Annual Meeting 2014

Chicago, IL, Oct. 19-21, Sunday - Tuesday

Saving Community Journalism:  The Digital Challenges - And Opportunities - Facing Community Newspapers


Sept. 15 

ASNE-APME 2014: Fast Forward Convention, Chicago, IL 

Sept. 15-17 ASNE-APME 2014: Fast Forward Conference, Hyatt Regency, Chicago

4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Monday Sept. 15

How to save Community Journalism… and thrive doing it

We’ve heard it from readers and critics. Newspapers are dead. We’re not going to survive. But is it that dire? What does the future truly hold for newsroom leaders? Join us for a Town Hall-style forum that will appeal to community media organizations. The featured speakers are two national thought leaders on media and the digital future. Penelope Muse Abernathy, a professor and author of “Saving Community Journalism,” and Robyn Tomlin, a former editor and now chief digital officer for Pew Research Center, will offer insights that may change your thinking. You’ll also hear from audience members on how their organizations are focusing on change.


Bill Church, executive editor, Sarasota Herald-Tribune


Penelope Muse Abernathy, author and Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, University of North Carolina

Robyn Tomlin, chief digital officer, Pew Research Center

Sept. 19

New York Press Association, 2014 Fall Convention, Port Jefferson, NY

Sept. 19-20 NYPA Fall Convention, Danfords Hotel & Marina, Port Jefferson, NY

Saving Community Journalism: An Entrepreneur's Guide

How can our newspapers and news organizations reinvent their business models so they can survive and thrive in the digital age?  Penny Muse Abernathy, a UNC professor and former media executive, will share the results of a five-year research project involving more than a dozen newspapers from across the country, ranging from small weeklies in rural and urban communities to dailies in small and mid-sized markets.  Drawing on the insights and experiences of these publishers and editors, she'll discuss how you can develop a strategy to counter the disruption and then implement it.  Her recent, well-received book, Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability, and the accompanying free instructional website,, explore the risks and opportunities newspapers face as they attempt to reimagine the future.  


July 18:

Association of Alternative Newsmedia, 2014 Convention, Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, Nashville, TN.    “Saving Community Journalism: Moving Beyond Print – An Entrepreneurial Primer”

Description: In many communities, alternative weeklies are at “an inflection point,” said author Penny Muse Abernathy in her keynote address at the Association of Alternative Newsmedia conference in Nashville. “With the decline of traditional media, most especially the decline of the longstanding, major newspaper in your market, you are becoming the community newspaper.”  She then discussed the implications on digital journalistic and business strategies that news weeklies must pursue in order to thrive in the years ahead.

Podcast of the presentation, available on “It’s All Journalism” podcast with Michael O’Connell

“It’s not too late to save community journalism.    Click here to listen to Michael O’Connell’s interview. 


June 13: 

Illinois Press Association, 2014 Convention, Crowne Plaza, Springfield, IL
“Saving Community Journalism: What We Now Know”

Description:  Author Penny Muse Abernathy addressed Illinois editors and publishers on why it is critical that newspapers survive and what the Saving Community Journalism project discovered about the potential of strong community newspapers to reinvent themselves for the digital age. 

June 22

MBA @ UNC: Immersion Weekend, Sheraton Midtown, New York City
“Marketing in the Digital Age”: A Class for MBA Students

Description:  Professor Abernathy presented a class on the intersection of marketing and media for graduate students in UNC’s online MBA program.   She examined the many channels that are now available and how marketers and advertisers can most effectively use them to match the medium with the message.


May 8:

North Carolina Press Association Academy -  Lunchtime Panel Discussion and Official Book Launch, Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, NC 

Program Description:  Publishers and editors featured in Saving Community Journalism shared what they  learned, in a panel discussion moderated by Penny Muse Abernathy. 


Les High, managing editor, the Whiteville News Reporter

Allegra Jordan, managing director, Innovation Abbey

Bruce Kyse, publisher Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2005-2013

Catherine Nelson, general manager, the Rutland Herald

Ryan Thornburg, associate professor, UNC

David Woronoff, publisher, the Southern Pines Pilot

The event was broadcast live and is available on the website of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC at Chapel Hill.  Click here to listen to broadcast.  

May 9: 

“Become a Carolina Student Again” -  Class Reunion Weekend, A Special Class for Returning Alumni, Carroll Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 

Program Description: More than 200 recent graduates of UNC have participated in the Saving Community Journalism project. Professor Abernathy invited returning alumni to get in on the act. She demonstrated how students today use new digital tools to learn about the business of news. Then they go out into the “real world” to help community newspapers successfully navigate a dramatically changed media landscape. 

Special guests: Les High, managing editor, and Stuart High, director of special projects, of the Whiteville News Reporter. They discussed the challenges and opportunities they’ve faced as owners of a family-owned paper. The Pulitzer Prize-winning, twice-weekly newspaper in rural eastern North Carolina, which has a print circulation of 10,000, is featured in the book and in a multimedia case study.  Click here to read case study. 


April 1: 

Beyond the Stone Walls: UNC Alumni, Washington, DC

“North Carolina’s Changed News Landscape: What It Means for Democracy”


Program Description: “An Evening with Penny Muse Abernathy.”  North Carolina has a long tradition of producing stellar journalists, who have studied at UNC and achieved national acclaim for their crusading Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces published not only in the New York Times and Washington Post, but also in hometown papers across the state. The digital revolution has upended the business models of traditional news organizations everywhere. This, in turn, threatens the historic mission of the state’s venerable print and broadcast news organizations: producing the news that feeds democracy. Tar Heel native Penny Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair of Journalism and Digital Media Economics, is a former senior executive with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and author of Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability.  She discussed why UNC alumni should care about the dramatic changes sweeping the Tar Heel media landscape, and what it means for the state’s future.

National Press Club, Washington, DC

Click here to view a PDF of the speech. 

April 4:

International Online Journalism Symposium, Austin, TX

“Life Beyond the Newspaper as a Paper-Only Product”


More than 300 participants from around the world gathered at the University of Texas at Austin, April 3 to 5, for the Fifteenth Annual International Online Journalism Symposium.  The three-day event featured journalists and professors from around the globe, discussing a range of topics from nonprofit journalism to the use of technology in news gathering.

Panel Discussion: “Strategies for the newspaper as a hybrid of atoms and bits.” Moderated by Jim Moroney, CEO of  A.H. Belo and publisher of the Dallas Morning News


  • Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, UNC at Chapel Hill
  • Jim Brady, editor-in-chief at Digital First Media and past president of Online News Association
  • Valtteri Halla, CTO at Leia Media, Finland
  • Caroline Little, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America
  • Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin

Click here to view a PDF of the IOJS program and to view video of the event   

Click here to get a PDF of the slides in the presentation by Penny Muse Abernathy

April 6: 

UNC Press Advancement Council, Chapel Hill, NC

An informal discussion with members of the council

UNC Press, established 92 years ago, was the first university press in the South and one of the first in the nation.  It publishes approximately 100 books a year and has established a reputation for being the premier publisher of both academic and general interest books on the South and women’s rights, among other topics.  Saving Community Journalism is the first book of its type that UNC Press has published.  Author Penny Muse Abernathy discussed why local journalism is a “public good” that must be preserved in the digital age and why the survival of community news organizations is vital to our democracy. 

Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, NC


February 27:

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University

“Reinventing Community Journalism: Business Strategies for the Digital Age”

Professor Abernathy presented a paper at a two-day symposium at the University of Oxford, England, that explored the current status of “Local journalism around the world: professional practices, economic foundations and political implications.”  She was one of 32 academics from 16 countries presenting.  Her paper laid out the rationale for the research that supports Saving Community Journalism and the implications her findings have for newspapers in the United States as they pursue their historic mission of producing the news that feeds democracy at the grassroots level.

Click here for a PDF copy of the paper.

St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford