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WAN-IFRA India 2010
conference concludes
invigorating newspaper industry

Co-sponsored by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the eighteenth annual conference WAN-IFRA India 2010, held for the first time in the Pink City of India, Jaipur, during Sept 15-16 successfully concluded after two days of intense exchange of ideas focusing on embracing social media, innovations in print advertising, targeting young population, investing in print and mailroom, and newsroom convergence. With around 300 attendees, WAN-IFRA India 2010 Printing and Newsroom Summits’ conference rooms were literally packed with delegates. Seventeen Indian newspapers named to the prestigious International Newspaper Colour Quality Club, who received their club member certificates at the IFRA Expo 2010 in Hamburg, were honoured at the gala dinner.

(R-L) Kasturi Balaji, managing director of The Hindu, Christoph Riess, CEO of WAN-IFRA, and Magdoom Mohamed, managing director of WAN-IFRA South Asia performing the traditional opening of the conference.

Christoph Riess, CEO of WAN-IFRA, Kasturi Balaji, managing director of The Hindu, and Magdoom Mohamed, managing director of WAN-IFRA South Asia performed the lighting for traditional opening of the conference. “Digital advertising revenues will never come to the level of print. Let’s forget about it. Still, fifty percent or more of our revenues in the future will come from digital. Whether the content will generate enough revenues, it is not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. The question is: how to do it in order to survive,” said Christoph Riess in his keynote address. Adding further he confirmed that soon internet will takeover newspaper advertising in US; while not happening that fast in Europe. However in Asia, newspaper advertising will always be higher than that of internet. Thus, future of newspapers will remain bright in this part of the world. Another interesting comparable study Christoph made was on newspaper distribution cost within Asia vs Europe.

Sanat Hazra, production director at The Times of India chaired the Printing Summit session with an interesting debate about ‘the opportunity to implement automated mailrooms in India today’. At this summit, Reto Wirth from Ferag, Claus Frederiksen from Schur Packaging Systems, and Rajiv Gandotra of Technicon India demonstrated strong arguments that post-press equipment can help generate a wide array of new revenues, justifying the investment. The significant presentations were also given by Snehasis Roy, associate vice president – technical, ABP Pvt Ltd on ‘challenges of running a high-speed press’; Dr Sumit Chowdhury, vice president & partner, IBM Global Business Service, on ‘print business & innovative advertising – a strategic point of view’; Cyriac Mathew, chief operating officer, Mid Day Infomedia Ltd on ‘capacity utilisation, selling excess production capacity during idle time’; N Ravindran, general manager-E & C, Express Publications (Madurai) Ltd on ‘open source software in newspapers to cut costs – is it realistic to replace licensed software with free software?’; and PP Prakash, senior general manager-materials, Malayala Manorama Co Ltd on ‘supply chain and logistics management’.

In the Newsroom Summit, an animated panel session was moderated by N Ram, editor-in-chief of The Hindu. Rahul Kansal chief marketing officer at Bennett, Coleman & Co; Raj Chengappa, editor-in-chief, The Tribune and Shravan Garg, group editor, Dainik Jagran made interaction with the audience on topics such as content monetisation, the impact of internet and digital media and the future of journalism in India. Rahul Kansal also presented insightful ideas on how to change in order to balance the newspaper product to make it attractive to all population segments, including the young.

Chew Kai Kim, vice president pre-press/operations at Singapore Press Holdings, showed how his company’s publications captivate the advertisers with innovative products in print such as panoramic ads or transparent wrap-around pages. “India’s young population is larger than China’s (593 million versus 466 million), that is why it is important to target it adequately,” said Ashish Bagga, CEO of Living Media India. Bagga’s recipe for capturing youth interests seems to work. His Indian edition of Cosmopolitan proudly holds the world’s record for highest pagination in one issue: 1,400 pages – and 49 percent ads!

Seventeen Indian newspapers named to the prestigious INCQC were honoured at the gala dinner.

The Rheinische Post’s managing director explained in great detail why his company is investing in more web presses at a time when the death of print is frequently announced. Newsroom Summit speaker Dariusz Kortko, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza in Katowice, Poland, explained how their publication gained a young readership in print and online by driving changes in the city and in their readers’ lives. WAN-IFRA’s executive director for young readership development,

Dr Aralyn McMane, presented case studies from around the world of newspapers that succeed in reaching a young audience with innovative campaigns and initiatives. Mitya New, managing director of Dow Jones, India, showed, however, that every kind of content has a value for a specific customer.

Dr Dietmar Schantin, WAN-IFRA’s executive director for editorial, advertising and general management, argued in favour of newsroom convergence. Newspaper consultant Terry Maguire believed, the online world is full of opportunities for innovative newsrooms willing to seize them. The inaugural speaker of WAN-IFRA India’s first Newsroom Summit, Terry conveyed, “We need to do better what we are doing.”

In his closing keynote speech focused on embracing social media, Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of The Guardian (UK) stated, “What sites such as eBay, TripAdvisor, Amazon or Twitter do may seem very far from what we do. Still, they can inspire us for improving what we do.” Rusbridger defended the concept of ‘mutualisation of the newspaper’. It implies admitting that the journalists are not the only ones who own the knowledge. It should be admitted that there are thousands of people out there who know more than journalists do about an issue and want to write about. The mutualisation consists of journalists meeting their readers to create something together. “We believe in what we do,” said Rusbridger, “But we can achieve it better if we collaborate with others.”

A perfect illustration is the use one can make of Twitter. “I first found Twitter was a silly thing…People telling you what they had for breakfast...” But the editor of The Guardian soon realized what a useful tool it could be turned into: one can use Twitter before publication, asking help from readers to write the article; one can then use it to market the article; and finally, one can use it to collect feedback on article.While other companies ban social media from their offices, The Guardian encourages its staff to make an active use of it. The Guardian’s approach to new media represents a complete revolution of traditional journalism.

Rusbridger summarised this new journalism in a series of principles that perfectly expresses his philosophy: journalism should encourage participation and invite or allow response; it should encourage others to debate, publish material, or make suggestions, following or leading, involving others in pre-publication processes; it helps form communities of joint interests around subjects, issues or individuals; it is open to the web and is part of it, links to, and collaborates with, other material (including services) on the web; it aggregates and/or curates the work of others; it recognises that journalists are not the only voices of authority, expertise and interest; it aspires to achieve and reflect diversity as well as promoting shared values, making much more out of The Guardian brand; it recognizes that publishing can be the beginning of the journalistic process rather than the end; and it is transparent and open to challenge, including correction, clarification and addition. “The walls have come down,” concluded Rusbridger, “We are talking to readers!”


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