Final countdown begins for
WAN-IFRA India 2017 Conference on
future of print and trending digital media

Three days of conference under three broad programmes, WAN-IFRA India 2017 Conference has set to roll out on September 12-14 at ITC Grand Chola in Chennai. The conference will be yet another landmark get-together point for the industry where more than 300 senior publishing heads from around 25 countries are estimated to assemble for discussions over the future of printed newspapers and new solutions elevating in the arena of digital media.

WAN-IFRA India 2017 Conference, which will be co-sponsored by Indian Newspaper Society (INS), is designed to be a networking platform for the South Asian news media leaders, who are gearing up to discuss, unearth fresh technologies and business models during the three days of conferences, summits and workshops.

A throwback snap of last edition's (Kolkata) Asia Media Award winners
The conference will mark WAN-IFRA's 25th Annual Silver Jubilee Conference; it will be segregated into three broad sessions: Pre-Conference Workshops, World Printers Forum Conference and World Editors Forum. Scheduled on September 12, Pre-Conference Workshop 1 on Business Models for Print Production will be a seminar on World Press Trends. Business models for print, best practices, innovations & tool, status of inkjet printing and new technology available in the market for print growth will be the topics of discussion in this first session of the seminar.

In the Pre-Conference Workshop 2, ‘Investigative Journalism’ will be the discussion topic, in which talks will revolve around the basics of investigative journalism having multiple building blocks, such as safety, conflicts, field preparation, gears, among others. This session of the workshop will touch all basic aspects and elements of investigative journalism.

The workshop will also highlight some innovative storytelling technologies, viz. Virtual Reality (VR) and 360º Videos with Google. This session will be led by news lab expert from Google to showcase the search engine conglomerate’s resources and tools for newsrooms looking at development of fresh innovations in storytelling through VR and 360º Videos.

Opening of the conference

Onset of the conference will take place with keynote addresses from the dignitaries, in which talks will revolve around some resourceful topics, which may include the changing face of journalism—challenges and opportunities going forward. The speakers in this session will give a focus on how media organisations across the world are handling the challenges for sustainable growth. As part of the opening session, there will be a CEOs Panel giving a vision on the future of media business. The select group of CEOs of India’s leading news media companies will discuss the state of media business and what future holds for printed newspapers as well as fresh business pathways ahead for the country’s news media companies.

Heads of big media houses into deep discussion in a session last year in Kolkata
Different sessions will compose the first day’s proceeding. There will be Session 1: Print, Profit Centre (Print-Online-Performance Gap), in which the debate will be on ‘old print vs. digital’. Though the industry has constantly observed that the printed newspaper is stubbornly refused to die, it is astounding to witness the tenacity with which a newspaper of more than 400 years old background asserts itself in the digital era. This will be the main discourse in this session finding out the strengths of where audience and revenue reside—a look into the reality of printed newspaper today and in future.

Another discussion in this session will be on Newspaper Printing in Digital World. In the discourse, Axel Springer, one of Germany’s leading newspapers, will present a case study on the ways they pull reader-base in this era of digital disruption, by adopting innovative methods and strategies following its publishing competence. Another persuasive discourse in this session will be on Unconventional Strategies in which the speakers have to discuss some learning from book publishing industry, finding out how in spite of digital reach, printed book publishing is flourishing? What are the structural changes book publishing has gone through and how successful publisher turned it to their advantage?

Session 1: Journalism in Digital World will be the discourse before the lunch break on the first day of the conference. In this session, A Paying Reader vs. Promiscuous Reader will be the topic of discussion, in which a keynote speaker from The Hindu will narrate how the leading daily has increased the cover price in Chennai, but still maintains the hold over their readers. The session will also contain another discussion over Platform Publishing and Way Forward in Collaboration, in which speakers are going to discuss about the emergence of social media platforms that enable publishers to reach their specific target audience with precise content. This session will provide news publishers ways to collaborate with social media platforms to maximise their growth.

Art of Journalism—this is the topic in this part of the session where discussion will be on ‘classic journalism’ that still survives even in the current digital era. talks will revolve around unlearning and learning again. Network 18 has smartly mastered the art of presenting the journalism to new age readers. Attending this session may make everyone clear about how Network 18 did it and what have been the results so far.

In the post lunch on the first day, Session 2: Quality and Cost Optimisation will resume as talk point of the session, in which discussion will centre on the topic Hindustan Times Format Change Strategy, with keynote speaker from the leading daily. Hindustan Times has changed the format of its business daily Mint from Berliner to Broadsheet. Participation in this session may bring a clear image of how the daily’s strategic move has improved quality and save cost. In a similar tone, another follow-up discussion in the session will be on Cost Saving and Quality Improvement Through Condition Monitoring. This session will bring a case study (from The Times of India) on ‘condition monitoring’ of press using mechanical audit procedures, which in turn helps newspaper houses improve their operational efficiency and reduce cost of production.

Speakers posing for photos
What could we learn from the Environmental Key Performance Indicators (eKPI) Report? Find it out in this session. eKPI is a research project from WAN-IFRA’s benchmarking key production metrics using environmental key performance indicators. The presentation in the session will discuss how leading Indian newspaper printing houses manage their plants and their best practices.

One of the key topics in this session will be on Social Media and Fake News under the Session 2: Trust and Quality of News. As the reach of social media in the society grows, so does the fake news. How could audience or readers be saved from fake news? To make this clear, Qatar newspaper Al Jazeera will present a case study on their new experiences protecting the interest of the readers and the publisher.

Field Reporting and Archival Research is another follow-up topic, in which the highlight will be on the importance of field reporting and archival research. In this follow-up session, the discussion will also revolve around Social Media’s Response to Fake News by putting up questions like: Is journalistic credibility deprived in social media channels? How are the platforms responding to fake news and other challenges?

Coming to the third stage of the first day’s conference, Session 3: Managing Newsprint Cost Managing Newsprint and Logistics will be an important session as it is on newsprint playing a critical role in production of newspapers of a newspaper house. In this, DB Corp will present a case study. In connection to GST (Goods and Service Tax), discussion in this session will also be on the key factors to understand newsprint procurement, how inter branch newsprint transport could be done efficiently.

Opening of the second day of the conference will be cracked with a session on ‘digital-first newsroom’. In the session, DIE WELT (Germany), which has been with Axel Springer for more than 30 years in various management roles of IT and technology, will bring a highlight of some major newsroom projects at DIE WELT. The company will share their experiences of projects implementing new technology and workflows for print, online and digital and the transformation process of changing newsroom from a print-focus to a story-centric and digital-first focus.

One of the key topics in news media conferences these days is Big Data. At a session called Big Data & Reader Engagement (Tools for News Search) in the conference, discussion will be on machine learning and artificial intelligence and latest technology developments for future. In the session, WAN-IFRA will present BBC’s award winning case study ‘The Power of Data Visualisation’. BBC News won ‘gold’ at WAN-IFRA’s European Digital Media Awards for its project ‘Life and Death in Syria’ which aims to bring the conflict’s toll to life with a mix of data visualisation and simple, stark facts.

Coming to social media, another topic of discussion will be Harnessing Social Media Bots, which is designed to use of social media bots in taking journalism to a new level. Influence of digital devices forces the publishers to opt for social bots. In the session, Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star will present their experiences of using social media bots to reach audience.

In the follow-up, Session 4: Improved Print Products and Distribution Models will bring a discourse over ‘improved newsprint for high-value products.’ UPM Paper will present new business models on this, signifying the fact that high performance and high bright newsprint will help newspaper houses produce products with great quality without any compromise in performance.

In the session, Inks for High Value Print Products will be the topic of discussion, in which Sun Chemical (Germany) is going to present how different variants of inks help newspaper houses produce high value print products. In this, Hueber Group (India) will also narrate how (special) inks can help attract new business for newspaper printers. Special focus will be given on special inks such as UV, high pigmented inks,among others.

After a short tea break, the conference will resume with another ardent topic—Greenolution, which literally means ‘Green Revolution’ and an holistic approach using environment friendly technology in plates, chemicals and consumables, helping to offer improved print products. Another key session in the subsequent session will bring an overview on Newspaper Distribution System. In the session, discussion will be on ‘how the distribution of newspaper worldwide is organised?’ In spite of latest developments in newspaper printing, on time delivery of printed newspapers in the morning to readers still remains a challenge.

Automation is what it brings a dramatic change on the innovation front in the industry. Taking this into the discourse, a session of Automated Newspaper Distribution System will be another analytic discussion, in which German regional newspaper Rheinische Post will explicate their distribution models. Rheinische Post handles delivery of not just their copies, but also of their competitive titles, using automated MIS and systematic planning approach.

Audience Development Using Big Data—another high point of discussion, whether in print or digital domain, audience development is the primary goal of a publishing company. A case study from Financial Times (USA) will be presented in this session on development of Big Data Analytics to help news publishers develop audience development initiatives. In a similar tone, Dainik Jagran will also present a case study on their experiences in reader engagement initiatives. ‘No More Going to the Jungle’ is the award-winning campaign from the Hindi daily and it is an example of fine reader engagement which won them award in WAN-IFRA’s Asian Media Awards this year.

Post-lunch session of the last day of the conference will resume with a session on Reader Engagement Through Sub-Brand. In the session, Mumbai Mirror will share the experiences of its reader engagement initiatives—a case of sub-brand adding value to the main title The Times of India. In the next session, Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror will take on Social Cause and Reader Engagement, presenting a unique exercise on the national day that brought readers together on a common cause and created a record for most number of engagements across the platform.

Engagement in non-newspaper products is one such common activity among newspaper houses. Shedding spotlight on this, Session 5: New Revenue Streams will be a key session on how newspaper printing press could be used to produce non-newspaper products such as books, magazines.

In the next session (Mailroom Innovations for Indian Market), leading mailroom system suppliers will share their modern and innovative mailroom products for the Indian market. After a small tea break, there will be the beginning of the closing session of the conference—Session 6: The Future of Print. In the closing session, WAN-IFRA will present its ultimate paper guide - OPHAL.

Talks in this follow-up session will revolve around topics, such as Innovations and New Revenue Streams, highlighting engagement in innovations and integrating it with revenue streams. A focus on in-house innovations in print and diversification of its revenue streams has allowed Star Media Group to protect its print advertising revenues more efficiently than most of its competitors. This will be discussed at the session tiled Print Innovations and Diversifications as closure of the conference.

Headquartered in Chennai, WAN-IFRA South Asia started its operation in 2001 in India as a private limited firm registered under the Indian Companies Act, but the origin of it dates back to 1992. Today, there are 40 members, from both publishing and supplying segments, in the association’s membership roaster, which consists of most of the leading publications in India, namely, ABP, Business Standard, Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran, Deccan Herald, DNA, Eenadu, The Indian Express, Lokmat, Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, The Times of India, Sakal, among others. For further information, contact Suresh Babu at:

Awards session

As part of the conference, South Asian Digital Media Awards 2017 will be presented by WAN-IFRA, recognising news media houses that have adopted digital media and mobile strategies as part of their total product offering to meet the major changes in how people consume news and information in today’s digital era. This year, a new category titled ‘Best Innovation to Engage Youth Audiences’ has been added, and the overall ‘categories and descriptions’ are listed as Best News Website, Best in Lifestyle, Sports or Entertainment Website, Best Digital Advertising Campaign including Branded Content, Best Use of Online Video including Virtual Reality, Best Data Visualisation, Best News Mobile Service, Best Lifestyle, Sports or Entertainment Mobile Services, Best Innovation New Product, and Best in Social Media Engagement.


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