A mysterious package arrived for me at our office last week, and when it was brought to my desk, it caught me off guard. 

I hadn’t remembered ordering anything lately, and this was a fairly good-sized box. … I mean it was definitely bigger than a bread box.

But when I opened it, I couldn’t have been more pleased: Inside was a Bingo cage filled with multiple colored Bingo balls and a masterboard on which to place the balls after they have been drawn. Essentially, everything that I would need to call a Bingo game!

The package was sent to me by the staff at the National Newspaper Association because during this October’s Annual Convention I will be hosting the Friday evening social that will include Bingo. And while I am enthusiastic about hosting the social, more importantly, the box signaled to me that as an industry we’re getting creative in figuring out how to come together again to secure our future.

I am thrilled that the NNA Annual Convention is right around the corner on Oct. 1-3. And while I’m not sure what this new virtual convention world will look like, I know that it means that we will finally be gathering together again as an industry. Sure, the pandemic has changed our industry, and our individual businesses, in such a short time frame that I could never have imagined it. And we may not even know the full impact on the newspaper industry yet.

But the thought of coming together under one roof -- albeit virtually -- to discuss the state of the industry and where we go from here, is a healing balm to me. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that we are better together; and so the more minds we have thinking about our future, the better!

This may sound like the patronizing talk of a vendor, because after all, the conventions are where we really get the chance to show off our products and services. But I can say sincerely that I’ve missed not having our conventions, whether they be state associations or the entire industry getting together, during the past six months.

I find the times that we gather together energizing because they bring me in proximity to people filled with passion, intelligence and motivation! … I mean, you want to know what’s going right with our industry and to feel good about our future, go to a convention! … I never leave one disappointed!

We’ve all been in the same boat these past five or so months, but what excites me the most is that in talking with colleagues all around the industry is that their beginning to move from a day-to-day survivalist mentality to a OK-time-to-get-even-more-creative mentality. I see discussion about new revenue opportunities, new business models, new efficiencies, and the list goes on. It’s ideas like these that come together during our conventions. And that talk is vital to our future success.

Oh, I know that the upcoming conventions won’t feel the same. I’ve already set up our vendor portal on the virtual platform that NNA will be using for its “134th Annual Convention and Trade Show: Today's Readers, Tomorrow's Leaders,” and even after that I’m not quite certain how it all actually works! … But I’m not letting that dampen my enthusiasm. I’m still excited to see faces I haven’t seen in months and get to talk to newspaper people and ask how they are doing. I’m excited to talk to potential clients and tell them what our services are, and also to see what other exciting ideas that others bring forth.

I’m certain that all of us may come into this convention season feeling a little battered, but I can tell you that from my perspective, the NNA convention with all of its familiar friends is exactly what I need to fill up my sails again! … We’ll see you at the reception on Friday night where I will be the guy with the big smile calling the Bingo numbers!