Survey respondents give 2010 ASNE convention high marks

“I think this was one of the most intelligent conferences I have been to in a long time. It was forward thinking, honest, informative and well executed,” said one of the convention attendees who responded to our post-convention survey. “A tour de force, far exceeding my expectations,” raved another. They weren't alone: Fifty-seven percent of the 118 respondents indicated the convention exceeded their expectations. Here's what they had to say. (This story includes an overview of the survey as well as link to a PDF of the complete results.)

“A tour de force, far exceeding my expectations,” said an ASNE member who attended this year's ASNE NewsNow Industry Summit. “I tried to play hooky but gave up because the program was too enticing.”

He wasn't alone. Sixty-seven of the 118 attendees who completed the post-convention survey, or 57 percent, also indicated that the event exceeded their expectations.

A close read of the survey results suggests that just about everything went right. There were a few complaints about discrete issues – spotty Internet access and the expense of the hotel, to name two. In general, however, attendees were almost uniformly enthused about the changes that were implemented this year by convention organizers, including a quicker pace and an emphasis on programming focusing on the professional challenges faced by newsroom leaders.

“I have been attending ASNE for years. … This year's convention was a refreshing, productive change,” said one ASNE member. “This is information editors need to plan the future of their news operations.”

“Best ASNE convention to date due to the practical nature of it,” explained another satisfied attendee. “Let's keep going in that direction: Best practices for a new era.”

The highest-rated speaker was digital strategy consultant Amy Webb, who also happened to be seven months pregnant when she gave her talk on tech trends. Two-thirds of all survey respondents rated Webb's presentation “very good.” Following closely behind was Google CEO Eric Schmidt, whose keynote speech was rated “very good” or “good” by 94 percent of the attendees. The presentation by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor and ASNE's then-president, Martin Kaiser, also broke the 90 percent positive barrier. In fact, only two of the 12 general sessions rated below 80 percent on the positive scale.

The afternoon workshops -- three of which always ran concurrently during the convention -- rated just a tad below the general sessions, with half the 14 sessions receiving a grade of “very good” or “good” from at least 80 percent of the attendees.

Also rating highly were the innovation salons and the editors' chat, which were ranked “very good” by over 40 percent of the respondents. Both sessions utilized meeting formats that were new for the ASNE convention, placing an emphasis on informal communication.

The Yahoo!-sponsored cappuccino cart received high marks as well, although a couple of respondents left comments noting that they craved just-plain-old coffee.

The survey also asked for suggestions regarding topics and speakers for 2011. Perhaps not surprisingly, President Barack Obama was on attendees' most-wanted list, with 10 mentions. Amy Webb tied Apple CEO Steve Jobs for second, with seven requests. Mobile and paid-content strategies were by far the most popular topics, with both cited by over a dozen respondents.

But convention organizers will be hard-pressed to top their 2010 performance, according to one impressed attendee: “I think this was one of the most intelligent conferences I have been to in a long time. It was forward thinking, honest, informative and well executed.”

Full survey results