Stage set for WAN-IFRA India 2017
Conference at Chennai

Welcoming a host of more than 300 senior news media leaders from 25 countries, all set to stage the WAN-IFRA India 2017 Conference from September 12-14 at ITC Grand Chola in Chennai. ALL ABOUT NEWSPAPERS looks into the programmes and panels of speakers at the three days of conference, which will include summits, workshops and plant visit, designed to explore the new waves of technologies, business models and ideas bringing a fresh paradigm shift into the news media world.

Marking its 25th Annual Silver Jubilee Conference, WAN-IFRA India 2017 Conference in Chennai is yet another landmark event in which South Asian news media leaders will be into discussions and discourses over the rapidly changing landscape of news media industry through three broad sessions—Pre-Conference Workshop, World Printers Forum, and World Editors Forum.

On September 12, at the Pre-Conference Workshop 1 titled ‘Business Models for Print Production’, discussions will be on world press trends, which consist of various business models for print, best practices, innovation & tool, status of inkjet printing and new technology available in the market for print growth. In the follow-up, the Pre-Conference Workshop 2: Investigative Journalism Investigative Journalism is designed to deeply investigate a single topic of interest and spending several months for researching and preparing a report. This workshop will touch all the basic and advance elements of ‘investigative journalism’. Michael Schmidt, media consultant, South Africa, will conduct the workshop as trainer.

Led by Google’s News Lab expert, Innovating Storytelling Through VR and 360º Videos will showcase the resources and tools that the search engine major makes available to newsrooms for developing innovating storytelling through VR and 360 videos. This concluding session of the day will focus on skills and basic equipment needed to get started, highlighting tutorial and best practices from India and South Asia.

Conference opening

Opening of the conference will be solemnised with a keynote speech from David Callaway, CEO, The Street (USA), in which the leader will narrate how media organisations across the world are handling challenges for sustainable growth in the session titled ‘The Changing Face of Journalism and Challenges & Opportunities Going Forward.’

The opening session will be followed by a CEOs Panel on ‘Future of Media Business’, in which a league of CEOs of India’s leading news media companies will discuss the current state of media business, the future of print and the way forward for news media companies in the country. In the session, Thomas Jacob, COO, WAN-IFRA Germany, will hold the fort as moderator. Speakers on the CEOs Panel will be Pawan Agarwal, deputy MD & CEO, DB Corp (India); Rajiv C Lochan, MD & CEO, Kasturi & Sons (India); Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media (India).

After a brief networking break, the conference will resume with the Session 1: Journalism in the Digital World: A Paying Reader Vs Promiscuous Reader. In the session, Mukund Padmanabhan, editor, The Hindu (India), will talk about the newspaper’s increased cover price in Chennai and probably the highest in the country. But they still maintain the hold over their readers. How it worked and what makes their exercise unique will be the point of discussion in this session. Next in the session will be on ‘Platform Publishing and the Way Forward in Collaboration’ by Raj Chengappa, editorial director, India Today (India). This session will focus on the emergence of social media platforms enabling the publishers to reach their specific target audience with precise content, giving tips on how news publishers can collaborate with social media platforms to maximise growth.

Art of journalism

The classic journalism in the digital world is not dead. It is about unlearning and learning again. Network 18 has smartly mastered the art of presenting the journalism to the new age reader. How do they do it and what are the results so far will be the point of discussion in the session, which will be headed by Sitaram Shankar, MD, Network 18 (India), with other speakers including Mukund Padmanabhan, editor, The Hindu (India); and Raj Chengappa, editorial director, India Today (India).

Print, The Profit Center—this is the topic in this session, under which the discussion will revolve around ‘Print-Online Performance Gap’. Just when one thought the ‘old print vs digital debate’ was no longer useful, along comes a study to stir the flames. Despite having been said and proved countless times in the past, the printed newspaper stubbornly refuses to die. It is astounding to witness the tenacity with which the more than 400-year-old news medium asserts itself in the digital era. The study suggests to play to the strengths of where newspapers’ audience and revenues mostly reside—a look into the reality of printed newspaper today and in future. Shedding a spotlight on this, Manfred Werfel, deputy CEO, WAN-IFRA (Germany) will take on Newspaper Printing in Digital World.

In this respect, Axel Springer, Germany's leading newspaper manages to attract its reader base amidst the digital disruption, by adopting innovative methods and strategies following its publishing competence. Taking this into detail, Knud Kraft, head of production, Axel Springer, Berlin (Germany) will present a case study.

Unconventionally book publishing

Learning from the book publishing industry, now in spite of digital reach, printed book publishing is flourishing. In this session, speakers will elaborate on what are the structural changes book publishing went through and how successful publisher turned it to their advantage. Respective speakers in this session will include Manfred Werfel, deputy CEO, WAN-IFRA; Knud Kraft, head of production, Axel Springer, Berlin (Germany).

After the networking launch break on the first day of the conference, there will be a ‘Breakout Session’ in which speakers will take on an interactive session where audience can learn about the platform, insights, new product updates, global case studies and more. Then, the next ‘Session 2: Quality and Cost Optimisation’ will be followed up. In the session, immediate topic of discussion will be ‘Hindustan Times Format Change Strategy’. In this, discourse will be upon the newspaper’s change in format of its business daily Mint from Berliner to Broadsheet. Anjan Mazumdar, assistant VP - quality & EHS, HT Media (India) will present a case study on how this strategic move helped Hindustan Times to improve quality and save cost.

In a similar tone on cost saving and quality improvement through ‘condition monitoring’, Arvind Mallya, chief manager, and Tonyraj R, deptuy chief manager, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (India) will present a case study from The Times of India on how ‘mechanical audit’ of the press using condition monitoring techniques helps newspapers to improve the operational efficiency and reduce the cost of production.

In the follow-up, it will be the introduction of the ‘Learning From Environmental Key Performance Indicators (eKPI) Report’. eKPI is the research project from WAN-IFRA benchmarking key production metrics using environmental key performance indicators. This presentation will discuss how leading Indian newspaper printing plants manage their plants, their best practices and the take for the industry. Respective speakers in the session will include Prabhu Natrajan, research engineer, WAN-IFRA India, alongside Anjan Mazumdar, assistant VP- quality & EHS, HT Media; Tonyraj Rajan, deputy chief manager, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (India); and Arvind Mallya, chief manager, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (India).

Social media and fake news

In the Session 2: Trust and Quality of News, a case study from Al Jazeera will be a major highlight. As the reach of social media in the society grows and so do the fake news, this session will give an insight of how could audience be saved from fake news. Speakers in the session will include Shadi Rahimi, senior producer, Al Jazeera (Qatar). Field Reporting and Archival Research will be the follow-up topic in this session. In this, a case study will be presented, which will be Shoe-Leather and Paper: The importance of field reporting and archival research is more than relevant today and its adoption in modern day practices. Michael Schmidt, media consultant (South Africa) will be the keynote speaker in the session.

News credibility

News credibility in the digital age—this will be the topic of discussion in this session, where speakers will take on news distribution system getting democratised and audience habits changing rapidly. In the session, discourse will be on how different stakeholders are responding. Keynote speakers in the session will include Unni Balakrishnan, chief of news, Mathrubhumi Television (India); Shadi Rahimi, Senior Producer, Al Jazeera (Qatar); and Michael Schmidt, media consultant (South Africa).

After a brief networking break, the conference will resume with Session 3: Managing Newsprint Cost. In the session, discussion will be around managing newsprint cost—a critical factor for a newspaper printing company as newsprint accounts for major chunk of opex. Keynote speaker in the session will be PP Prakash, VP-materials, Malayala Manorama (India).

In the next session, the speakers will take on ‘Newsprint and GST’ as the new tax regime has been rolled out in India and what are all the key factors to understand in newsprint procurement and how inter branch newsprint transport could be done efficiently. This will be experiences from The Hindu and the speaker will be Nambi Rajan Narayanan, CFO & company secretary, Kasturi & Sons (India).

Award night

South Asian Digital Media Awards (SDMA), the second edition of WAN-IFRA's prestigious awards to recognise news media companies/publishers who have adopted digital media and mobile strategies as part of their total product offering will be presented in this concluding session of the first day of the conference. The winners of SDMA will be honoured with the presentation of trophies in the session; some of the winners will showcase their award-winning works during the gala.

Digital first approach

The second day of the conference will be dawned with the breakfast session sponsored by CCI, followed by Torsten Stolz, senior duty editor technology at DIE WELT, a national brand of Axel Springer in Berlin, will share his experience of the newspaper’s journey to become a digital publishing house, and how the newsroom of DIE WELT transformed to a digital-first approach. By implementing the CCI NewsGate system, they redefined their workflow, enabling digital growth and reduced print-production cost.

Distribution models

In the next session, which is titled ‘Improved Print Products and Distribution Models’, discussion will be on newspaper printing houses opting for new business models, high performance and high bright newsprint, which eventually helps them to produce the products with great quality without any compromise in the performance. The presentation will be from UPM (Germany). Anu Ahola, senior VP, UPM, will speak about how (special) inks can help to attract new business for newspaper printers. In addition, a presentation from Huber Group (India) will be the key highlight, showing how special inks such as UV, high pigmented inks, etc help newspaper printers to offer a great line of value-added products to customers. SS Kulkarni, GM-technical, Huber Group (India) will be the keynote speaker in this session.

Big data

In the session titled ‘Big Data & Reader Engagement’, discussion will be on ‘tools for news search’. The debate will revolve around machine learning and artificial intelligence – what does the latest technology developments teach the industry about the future of news. Attention puller in the session will be the presentation of BBC’s award winning case study: The Power of Data Visualisation. BBC News bagged 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. The case study will be presented by Bella Hurrell, assistant editor, BBC News (UK).

Harnessing social media bots

Does the use of social media bots is take journalism to a new high? Answer to this ‘question’ will be the key discussion in this session. These days, influence of digital devices force the publishers to opt for social bots. In this respect in this session, experiences of The Daily Star on its initiatives to use to social media bots to reach their audience will be discussed. Keynote speakers in this session will be Tajdin Hassan, head of marketing, The Daily Star (Bangladesh); and Bella Hurrell, assistant editor, BBC News (UK).

After a networking break, a key session called ‘Greenolution’ will be followed up. In the session, Amit Khurana, COO-Newspaper Group, TechNova (India), will take on Greenolution (Green Evolution) as holistic sustainable solution for eco-friendly printing technology in plates, chemicals and consumables, helping to offer improved print products. The speaker will narrate how does it help the industry?

In the very successive session, the topic of discussion will be ‘Newspaper Distribution System’, giving a highlight of how can distribution of a newspaper be organsised worldwide? In spite of the latest in newspaper printing, the delivery of the printed newspaper on time early in the morning to the reader still remains a challenge. Manfred Werfel, deputy CEO, WAN-IFRA Germany will give an insight of this practice.

Automated distribution system

Topic in the follow-up session will be ‘automated newspaper distribution system’, in which the highlight will be on how Rheinische Post handles its delivery of not just their copies, but also of their competitive titles. The newspaper will present a case study on ‘automated MIS and systematic planning approach’ that has helped them reach their readers on time. Panel of speakers in the session will be Michael Kiesswetter, MD, Rheinische Post (Germany); Amit Khurana, COO-Newspaper Group, TechNova (India); and Manfred Werfel, Deputy CEO, WAN-IFRA (Germany).

After a brief networking break, a session titled ‘Audience Development Using Big Data’ will resume the conference, giving a spotlight on ‘audience development’, either on print or digital, which is the primary goal of a newspaper publishing firm. This session will bring up a ‘case study’ on how the development of big data analytics helps the news publishers start audience development initiatives.

User engagement

In this session, Dainik Jagran will present a case study titled ‘No More Going to the Jungle’, which is the leading Hindi daily’s award-winning campaign—an example of fine reader engagement which won the newspaper the WAN-IFRA Asian Media Award. This case study is totally the newspaper’s experience in reader engagement initiatives and keynote speaker in the session will be Basanth Rathore, senior VP - strategic planning, brand & business development, Jagran Group.

Effective sub-brand

Sub-brand is quite supportive when it comes to reader engagement. A session on this, The Times of India will share their experiences of reader engagement initiatives. Vinita Nangia, director, Write India, (The Times of India) will present a case of sub-brand adding value to the main title. In the session, another topic of discussion will be on ‘Social Cause and Reader Engagement’, in which Hiranthi Fernando, editor, Fun Times, Wijeya Newspapers (Sri Lanka). In Sri Lanka, Daily Mirror has done a unique exercise on the country’s national day that brought the readers together on a common cause and created a record for most number of engagements across platform.

How newspaper printing press could be used to produce non-newspaper products such as books, magazines? This will be the topic of discussion in this session where discussions may take across what all additional investments needed in the printing press and mailroom systems. A business model from a leading publisher will be presented in the discourse.

Mailroom innovations in Indian market

In this session, some of the leading mailroom system suppliers will share their modern and innovative mailroom products for the Indian market. Keynote speakers in this session will include Kurt Naef, regional sales director, Muller Martini (Switzerland); Per Hallendorff, executive project director, Schur Packaging (Sweden); and Kawal Arora, MD, WRH Global India.

Future of print

After a networking break, the conference will come to a closing session titled ‘The Future of Print’. In the session, Ultimate Paper Guide – OPHAL will be presented. Being a demanding cargo, newsprint handling requires specialised techniques, tools and facilities for handling, logistics, storage and preparation for printing. Any reduction in their waste and damage improves both economic and environmental performance. Manfred Werfel, deputy CEO, WAN-IFRA (Germany) will be the keynote speaker in the session. Other topics of discussion in the session will include ‘Innovations and New Revenue Streams’ in which discourses will involve around innovations work and integrating it with revenue streams. In addition, one of the leading South Asian news media houses will also present ‘print innovation and diversifications in business strategies and vision for future’ to drive into the future. After the conference, manroland web systems will sponsor a printing plant visit for the delegates.


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