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Wan-Ifra India 2019 Conference Begins in Gurugram

Wan-Ifra India 2019 Conference Begins in Gurugram
on Sep 19, 2019
Wan-Ifra India 2019 Conference Begins in Gurugram
The 27th edition of the annual Wan-Ifra India 2019 Conference, the largest gathering of news publishers in South Asia, was inaugurated at The Leela Ambience, Gurugram, on 18 September. The event is on until today. Organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and co-sponsored by Indian Newspaper Society, the theme for this year’s conference is ‘Driving revenue and excellence in challenging times.’ Featuring two parallel events — Advertising Summit and Printing Summit — the event will see the attendance of more than 300 senior publishing executives from over 25 countries. While the experts will share about innovations transforming the global media industry, there will also case studies and best practices directly relevant to local media operations. At the exhibition coinciding conference, there are 25 exhibitors displaying their product and services. These include TechNova, PPI Media, Krause, Baldwin, Prakash, PoddarGlobal, Manugraph, QI Press Controls, NewsTech, Manroland Goss, ABB, among others. The conference on 18 September started with three keynote addresses. In the first keynote address, Lisa MacLeod, head of digital, Tiso Blackstar Group, vice-president, Wan-Infra, gave an overview of the South African newspaper market and the measures taken to work within the challenging environments of the market. MacLeod said while the use of digital in South Africa is not as widespread as it is in India, due to the higher cost of data, the company has been pushing for news distribution via digital using the paywall model. She said while digital offers faster news delivery for the readers, it also works well for the company as it offers higher margin in lower cost. MacLeod said, today, 35% of Blackstar Group subscribers are in digital. She said the company has also seen a big growth in advertisement in its digital platform. Meanwhile, for print, the group has taken measures by investing more on street sales, by consolidating retail and subscription and constantly optimising pagination. “Our focus is on retaining customers above more than acquiring new ones,” she said. In the second keynote address, Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief, The Straits Times & SPH's English/ Malay/ Tamil Media Group, talked about extending the life of the printed product, while gearing up for a digital-first newsroom. Fernandez explained how the company revamped the newsroom by starting with literally revamping the office space. He also gave the audience a run-down on the day-to-day activities of the newsroom. “We are no longer a newspaper, but a multimedia operator,” Fernandez said, “It’s not platform first, but journalism first approach.” He said while working on the revamp, the company travelled to different newsrooms in different country, finally it realised that it had to do it on its own. “We cannot follow others without understanding our needs,” he said. Fernandez also gave the audience the details on World News Day to be celebrated on 28 September. World News Day celebrates the work of professional news organisations and the impact they make on the communities they serve. World News Day aims to raise public awareness of the critical role that newsrooms and journalists play in providing the public with credible and reliable news and views, to help people make sense of — and improve — the rapidly changing world around them. In the third keynote address, Raj Jain, CEO, Bennett, Coleman & Co, gave an overview of the publishing business in India, with a reference to The Times of India. While praising the works being done by the Indian Readership Survey, Jain said TOI has not only increased its readership, it has also seen popularity among the younger age groups. Talking about digital news distribution, Jain said while news in digital has certainly increased, it has failed to generate similar revenues, except for large scale aggregators like Facebook and Google. “Going forward, we need to build a strong foothold in the digital platform,” he said. “The newspaper industry needs to be its own innovator and its own distuptor.” Going ahead, Jain said the news-making process and the readers are the key. “We need to transform the newspaper into a views-paper,” Jain said. “Newspaper publishers need to build capability in such a way that both print and digital can work together in a medium agnostic environment for a 360-degrees reach.”

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