Big Installation
New paths for news media at
WAN-IFRA India Conference 2016 in Kolkata

Signifying a cusp of print-digital transition
with publishers urged to focus on reader experience

Attended by around 400 industry delegates rushing from different parts of the country and the world as well, the maiden Kolkata edition of WAN-IFRA India Conference was organised on September 21-22, 2016 in the City of Joy, heralding new messages for news media companies to concentrate on reader experience, particularly in this crucial era of print-digital transition. SM Dutt and Jyaneswar Laishram from ALL ABOUT NEWSPAPERS report the two-day conference on trend and tradition of the news media world in which 35 speakers from India and abroad shared their knowledge and business experiences on varied parameters.

The annual WAN-IFRA Conference, now in its 24th edition, was taken place in Kolkata for the first time, pulling participants from more than 20 countries. In the welcome address at the onset of the conference, Magdoom Mohamed, MD, WAN-IFRA South Asia Pvt Ltd (India) thanked every participant and attendee who made the occasion perfect. Subsequently, DD Purkayastha, MD & CEO, ABP Group (Kolkata) and WAN-IFRA board member, in his opening address, mentioned that the Indian news media industry is now in the cusp of a print-digital transition with digital start-ups are taking flight. Traditional publishers, according to him, should now innovate and collaborate to be relevant in the print-digital world.

Common inaugural session

The two-day conference, which was co-sponsored by INS (Indian Newspaper Society), had a common inaugural session, in which keynote speaker Chandra Sekhar Ghosh, founder-MD and CEO of Bandhan Bank (India) addressed the crowd about the banking industry and its similarity with the new media industry. “Both the industries address millions of customers and work to create unique experience for their customers; at Bandhan Bank, business ethics, consumer focus and corporate social responsibilities are the values that keep them going—ones that are very relevant to the news media industry,” he narrated.

In the follow-up of the inaugural session, Vincent Peyregne, CEO, WAN-IFRA (France) was scheduled to address the gathering, but absent due to some issue related to ill health; in place of him, Manfred Werfel, director, World Printers Forum, WAN-IFRA (Germany) talked about the World Press Trends, WAN-IFRA’s annual update of the newspaper industry worldwide. “The global newspaper circulation revenues are now larger than newspaper advertising, a trend identified last year and that the audiences have become publishers’ largest source of revenue,” he announced, suggesting that publishers focus less on the product and more on the experience. He further added that news media players must find the right business models using big data and insights.


Following the common inaugural session, the conference venue (hall) was rearranged to divide into three auditoriums respectively designed for World Printers Forum, World Editors Forum (Newsroom Summit) and Cross Media Advertising Summit. Then the second session on the first day unfolded with the session on ‘Operation Efficiency in Print Production’ conducted by Manfred Werfel in the World Printers Forum. In the session, he explained why optimisation in newsprint handling is important as newsprints are handled 16 times between the mill and newspaper press. At the closure of the session, with respect to the topic he discoursed, Manfred released OPAHAL (Optimised Paper Handling & Logistic) practice guide of WAN-IFRA.

In the next session of the forum, PK Phillip, VP-work, Malayala Manorama (India), who has been with the newspaper for more than 30 years, talked about the advantages and challenges of ‘inserting systems’. “Paginations of newspapers vary day-to-day, depending on news and advertisements; and paginations peak during festive seasons,” explained PK Phillip, adding, “In this, we have options—first, send all inserts as separate bundles; second, use inserters and inserts all at the printing plant in main issue; and third, increase printing capacity to cover all paginations and colour requirement.”

Energy efficiency in newspaper printing plant—this was the topic that Josef Schiebl, technical director, Suddeutscher Verlag Zeitungsdruck (Germany) talked at length in the subsequent session, explaining why effective power utilisation is the key step for sustainability in newspaper production. Then in the next session was a talk on ‘Engineering Excellence in Print’ in which two technical experts (engineers) from Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd, namely, Neeraj Sharma and S Karthik, presented a ‘case study’ sharing some strategic management of technology and human capital to achieve competency in cost, productivity and quality.

The forum continued as two keynote speakers—Janaka Rathnakumara, COO, Wijeya Newspapers Ltd (Sri Lanka) and Somnath Guha, associate VP-engineering, ABP Pvt Ltd (India)—elucidated how could period mechanical audits and pro-active maintenance help improve the life of newspaper presses. “Maintenance averages 14 percent of the goods sold in many industries, including the news media,” mentioned Janaka, adding that the largest single controllable expenditure in a printing plant is ‘maintenance’, and maintenance budgets in many plants exceed annual net profit.

According to Somnath, the key benefits of periodic audits and pro-active maintenance include: full access visibility; cost-effectiveness; prediction when failure will occur (using data); lengthening life-cycle of presses; and downtime only before unavoidable failure. He also mentioned that skilled staff and conditioning equipments are required for the pro-active maintenance.

Concluding sessions in the World Printers Forum had three key speakers who narrated about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Gautam Ghosh, director, InterStrat Pvt Ltd (India) explained how data analytics are implemented to improve operational efficiency. He revealed what KPIs to measure and how it could help in tracking and delivering insights that help achieve production targets. In the similar tone, Benoit Moreau, consultant, Ecograf (France), in his speech, explained the comprehensive use of eKPIs to achieve efficiency and benchmark in printing plants. Another speaker in the session, Suresh Kuppuswami, AGM-production, Deccan Herald (India) divulged the results of the quality standardisation project, which The Printers (Mysore), publishers of the newspaper, launched in its multiple printing plants in 2015.

Newsroom Summit

On the other side of the conference, in a separate auditorium, World Editors Forum (Newsroom Summit) unfolded a series of talks on the topic ‘Newsroom of the Future’ conducted by a string of speakers, including DN Mukerjea, president, ABP Digital & editor, Fortune India, who discussed about the trend of social media, whether the medium has taken over journalism and also, he suggested the ways editors could add value to journalism. Another interesting discourse in the session was on ‘robots in journalism’ which Justin Myers, news automation editor, The Associated Press (USA), explained how the technology could add value to journalism.

In the follow-up, it was a discussion on what VR (Virtual Reality) could do in real to indulge in promotional activities of news media production houses. In this landmark session, Santhosh George Jacob, head-content, Manorama Online (India), said that the technology of VR could be executed to tour places of interest, which include coverage of major events live and deferred. It could be applied for games and special stories to be carried out in virtual formats,” he added.

Other inspiring sessions at the summit were on ‘Open Mobile Web’ addressed by Dushyant Khare, head-global partnership–Southeast Asia & India, Google (Singapore). In the topic, Peter Ong, principal consultant, Checkout Australia Pty Ltd (Australia) explained how newsroom professionals could cope with the coming changes and what should editors look forward to it. Delivering ‘nine secrete ways’ to make success in social media strategy, another keynote speaker Frederique Lancien, consultant, Digital Transformation & News Business Strategies (France), suggested tips to carve success in the domain.

Crossmedia Advertising Summit

‘Trends in Crossmedia Advertising’—this was the topic a line up of keynote speakers shared their opinions, experiences and strategies in this session. Opened by Ulbe Jelluma, marketing manager, Europe, Print Power (Belgium), talking about the balance act of print and digital, not print vs digital, he further mentioned that the current scenario is about integrating print and digital to provide a powerful advertising experience. In the next, Jay Lauf, publisher and president, Quartz (USA) narrated about the newspaper’s advertising strategy. Third speaker in the summit, Ramanujan Pobbisetty, enterprise sales director, ComScore (India), revealed the fact and trends in the current print media market where mobile and online advertising occupied equal shares.

Post-lunch session in the summit was unfolded with Dushyant Khare, head-global partnership–Southeast Asia & India, Google (Singapore) talking about the effective use of open mobile web. Then it was followed by a discussion over the sensitive issue of ‘ad blocking’ conducted by Magdoom Mohamed, MD, WAN-IFRA South Asia Pvt Ltd (India). He suggested strategies for news media publishers to secure their revenues in such scenario. “Build up a strong brand to reach out to the masses,” echoed Vinay Maheshwari, senior VP-sales & market development and brand marketing, DB Corp Ltd (India). He impressively presented successive campaigns and social initiatives the leading newspaper group carried out, successfully.


In continuation to the previous day’s discourse over various topics on print-digital transition, on the Day Two, World Printers Forum was opened with the session on ‘Publishing System’ in which the first speaker Bhausaheb Patil, director-technology, Sakal Media Group (India) asserted that the shrinking of print media is a true phenomenon that may hit the Indian market, sooner or later. However, he suggested leveraging digital platform, showing a ‘case study’ from their newspaper group. In the follow-up, talking about implementing a new publishing system, which they have already put into action, RP Lakshmivenkataraman, assistant vice president-pre-press, The Hindu (India) recommended to adopt multi-channel publishing with an objective in mind.

Cornelius Sohm, head-Russmedia Solutions (Austria), in the subsequent session of the summit, asserted that their company adopted different editorial systems and workflows in the newsrooms, even in the pre-digital period, around 23 years ago. Heralding the fact that the printed media would remain in the market, but in a different norm, he suggested that the sustainability would stay only in the multi-channel and multi-language parameters.

Subsequently in the session, another topic on ‘Value Added Printing’ in the forum, Ambi Parameshwaran, founder, (India) described the existence of the power of print in the industry. He further explained that the print media is still important because it would leverage good advertising campaigns; and now the time has come to consider rather ‘selling solution’ than ‘selling space’. Then when it came to discussing ‘value addition’ in print, the very next speaker, Anandan Thangasamy, manager, technical services, Star Media Group (Malaysia), narrated that designs play vital role in value addition. Designs he talked about would centre on ‘ad designs’ that could achieve feasible and practical innovations.

The last speaker in the forum, Nandini Choudhury, chief technical manager, DIC India Ltd (India) stressed on value addition in prints with UV inks. In her keynote address, she mentioned newspapers printed with UV inks would get a unique quality as UV inks could dry in photomechanical process instead of conventional evaporation and absorption. She also talked about the advantageous qualities of UV inks that can dry up even on plastic as well as non-porous substrates. In addition to UV inks, Nandini narrated about LED UV, which she explained to be a future technology, rather more advanced than mercury lamps.

Worlds Editors Forum

On the second day at Worlds Editors Forum or Newsroom Summit, which was conducted as a session common with Crossmedia Advertising Summit, the discussion on ‘Audience Development’ drew up four speakers. Of them, the first speaker Kaustuv Chatterjee, senior vice president-Brand Language & Mirror, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (India) recounted how Ei Samai, a Bengali language brand from the company, attained its success—through a case study. Came up next yet another success story, that too about a Bengali daily titled The Tale of Ebela, for which Supriyo Sinha, vice president, Anandabazar Patrika and Ebela, APB Group (India), presented a case study interpreting how the paper pulled young readers, both in print and digital platforms.

Young audience was the point of discussion in this forum. Youth Ki Awaaz, a media platform for the youth, driven by a community model and a unique editorial style, was what its founder and editor-in-chief Anshul Tewari brought to the discussion table. He explained how the young-oriented newspaper provides a perfect platform for India’s youth to express their views. The last speaker at the forum, Chelo Banal Formoso, editor-learning section, Philippines Daily Inquirer (Philippines), also shared the youth initiatives that her newspaper instigates to build the brand and attract young readers.

South Asian Digital Media Awards

Jointly presented by Google, some of the leading digital media houses that bagged the prestigious WAN-IFRA South Asian Digital Media Awards included Manorama Online, NDTV, The Quint, among others. The awards were designed in recognition of best practice innovation in digital publishing worldwide. NDTV swept multiple wins! Organised in every region – South Asia, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America – the winners under different categories of the awards at the maiden Kolkata edition of the conference are listed as under:

Best Website: (GOLD); (SILVER) and,, (BRONZE).

Best New Product: Gadgets 360, from Red Pixles Ventures (GOLD); News Beeps, from NDTV Convergence (SILVER); Vixty app, from NDTV Convergence (BRONZE).

Best New Mobile Service: News Republic App (GOLD); (SILVER); The Quint (BRONZE).

Best Digital Advertising Campaign: The Quint – IAmShatterProof for Motorola (GOLD); NDTV Convergence – L’Oreal Paris Women of worth 2016 (SILVER)

Best Use of Online Video: The Quint – The Wild West of Uttar Pradesh (GOLD); NDTV Convergence–Shiksha Ki Ore Campaign (SILVER); NDTV Convergence – L’Oreal Paris Women of worth 2016 (BRONZE).

Best Entertainment & Lifestyle Mobile Service: NDTV Convergence – Nirmal MyFit100Days (GOLD); Times Internet – (SILVER)

Best Reader Engagement: The Quint (GOLD); The Hindu––Ask Ashwin Contest (SILVER); The – Tamil Nadu Election Campaign 2016 (BRONZE).

Asian Best-in-Print Awards

During the World Printers Forum, WAN-IFRA announced the Asian Best-in-Print Awards, in which some of the leading print media in the continent were honoured with the prestigious accolades. Some of the leading companies coffered with the exalted awards under the category ‘Best in Print–Circulation Below 150,000 Copies’ were: Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, Singapore (GOLD); The National, United Printing and Publishing, Abu Dhabi (SILVER); Berita Harian, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, Singapore (BRONZE). And the winners under the category ‘Best in Print–Circulation Above 150,000 Copies’ included: The Straits Times, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, Singapore (GOLD); Apple Daily, Apple Daily Printing Ltd, Hong Kong (SILVER); and The Shizuoka Shimbun, The Shizuoka Shimbun, Japan (BRONZE).

Two new appointments at WAN-IFRA South Asia

At a meeting held on the sidelines of the conference, KN Shanth Kumar, editor of Kanada daily Prajavani and director of The Printers Mysore Lt (Bengaluru) was unanimously elected as new chairman of WAN-IFRA South Asia Committee. He takes over the position from K Balaji, director, Kasturi & Sons Ltd, who had recently stepped down.

WAN-IFRA South Asia Committee was formed in September 2004, to help and guide the association in shaping its activities to serve the industry better. The committee has done several leading projects including the setting up of the Research and Material Testing Centre in Chennai, to offer testing of paper and ink, and also simulated press training. Also, the committee was instrumental in the establishment of World Printers Forum as the central point of the international news media print community, and to promote the power of print and sustainability of print production.

Further, WAN-IFRA South Asia has appointed M Srinivasan as manager-sales & events. He will be responsible for events and expo services of WAN-IFRA in the region. Previously worked for as business development manager – sales, M Srinivasan replaces V Antony who left WAN-IFRA South Asia in March this year.

On the sidelines Presence of FUJIKURA

Pressroom specialist FUJIKURA marked its presence as one of the main sponsors at the conference. In a brief conversation with All About Newspapers, Rajendra Vidhawan, CEO, FUJIKURA Graphics India Pvt, said they have just opened a conversion unit in India this year. “Earlier, our focus was very limited to the eastern part of the country; but we are looking at wider pan-India level coverage,” said Rajendra. When enquired about the most demanded blanket from the company in the Indian newspaper market, he mentioned FitNews Plus, an improved coldset blanket designed for high-speed newspaper printing.

Choice of newsprint at Malayala Manorama

Another conversationalist with All About Newspapers on the sidelines of the conference was Prakash PP, vice president – materials, Malayala Manorama, who shared about the newspaper’s choice of newsprint. “When it comes to selection of newsprints, we would always go for the premium quality Virgin brand, which is designed for high-speed web presses. Our production units are equipped with high-speed Mitsubishi 4x1 DIAMONDSPIRIT-SA presses,” he mentioned.

Sanmarg still relies on print

In his propitious talk to All About Newspapers, Vivek Gupta, editor, Sanmarg and Rajya Sabha MP (All India Trinamool Congress) expressed, “It’s clear that innovations would have to be in the forefront these days to survive in the cut-throat competition in the present newspaper market.” He added that the ‘innovations’ must however be deployed in a very cost-effective manner. When asked his opinion on the end or shrinking of the print media, he said that India per se is now in the position, which is very much different from the west where printed newspapers keep vanishing.

“The current Indian printed newspaper market is still full of scope for growth and expansion. Look at the population of 30,000 villages in the country, which are totally cut-off from internet access or online news media. These are the areas where we could reach and spread with the value of printed newspapers,” explained Vivek, adding this unexplored population would surely buy printed newspapers, which we must make it innovatively, attentively and attractively.

According to Vivek, that’s pretty sure that every news media house in the country is attempting to expand into the digital zone, but it doesn’t mean the replacement of the printed copies. “Over the years, it has been predicted that printed newspapers will come an end—when radio was launched, then television—but they still survive,” he explained as a matter of fact. Sanmarg was founded by Swami Karpatri; it’s a Hindi daily with editions printed from Kolkata, Varanasi, Patna, Ranchi and Bhubaneshwar.

Common Closing Session

Closure of the conference was marked with a Common Closing Session in which a host of speakers talked about ‘Shaping the Future of News Publishing’. The session was opened with Rajiv C Lochan, MD & CEO, Kasturi & Sons Ltd (India) naratting about driving performance and culture in traditional enterprises, citing experience of The Hindu. Next, a persuasive and fun-filled discussion was from GP Rao, founder & managing partner, GPR HR Consulting LLP (India). In connection to publishers trying new strategies for business growth, he explained the ways to get a buy-in from the team involved.

With reference to the future of print media, David Lu Shunjing, executive director, Division of International Relations, Guangzhou Daily Press Group (China), explained the current situation of the Chinese news media industry and its group now carving a future plan to garner affluence in both print and digital parameters. In the follow-up, an overwhelming panel discussion marked the last session of the day and closure of the two-day conference. It had a panel of eminent news media personalities from the country, namely, DN Mukerjea, president – ABP Digital & editor, Fortune India (in the chair) with panellists comprising Bobby Ghosh, editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times; Rajiv C Lochan, MD & CEO, Kasturi & Sons Ltd; and Monica Nayyar Patnaik, joint managing director, Eastern Media Ltd.

Where do the news media audiences belong these days? Responding to this decisive question, Bobby Ghosh said Hindustan Times is looking ahead to enriching ‘content’ to a next level; this is how the newspaper would catch up with new generation readers. Rajiv C Lochan, in his take on shaping the future of news publishing, said one should not restrict to a particular channel, citing the instances of The Hindu Group’s publications and channels they adopt.

‘Future is digital’—agreeing with this without doubt, Monica Nayyar Patnaik however couldn’t neglect the other side where print media market is now surging in the eastern part of the country. “We (Eastern Media Ltd) are 99 years old; have climbed on the top in the region; and we still see that print media is still alive and intensifying for further expansion in the region,” she asserted, with an optimism of future sustainability of printed newspapers in India, alongside the escalation of digital platform.


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