Day 2 of the Ifra India 2007 conference in Chennai saw media stalwarts deliberate on the problem areas of the newspaper industry. Peter Ong, Consultant, Checkout Australia Pty Ltd, made an interesting presentation on how to successfully redesign a newspaper. “You can’t fool the readers by offering the same old content in the new bottle,” he warned, adding “There is no point in redesigning a newspaper without changing the content. When one is thinking of redesigning the newspaper, he or she has to take several things into consideration, including offering good, fresh content.”
Speaking at the last session of the conference, Ong said that there were a lot of areas in a newspaper that caused problems. “But redesigning usually has its impact. The newspaper will see a spurt in circulation after the redesign, but the challenge is how to sustain the rise. My answer is with good editorial content,” Ong stressed.
According to Ong, structure, façade and interior made a newspaper a successful one. Elaborating further he said, “The newsroom (structure) is the mainstay in any newspaper. That is the engine of the newspaper. If a newsroom can’t function well, it is not going to get the best results for your product. So, you need a newsroom that is geared up to edit for tomorrow and tomorrow’s readers.”
Second is the façade: the designing and the visuals should be eye-catching. There should be something on every page of the newspaper that should make the readers turn to the next page. The third is interior. “The interior of a newspaper should be as well furnished as one’s house,” Ong said.
Speaking about colours, he said, “Too many colours look nice in a saree, not in a newspaper’s masthead.”
Earlier in the day, a panel of experts tackled questions about the future of Indian newspapers. The discussion was prefaced by a series of video interviews with young Indians expressing their opinion on newspapers vis-à-vis other news mediums.
With lively audience participation, the general conclusion was that India’s publishers had some time yet before the digital wave, already lapping at the country’s shores, starts to sweep over them the way it already has in Europe and the US. The panel and audience advised the publishers that they needed to come up with solid strategies for online and particularly mobile media services.
The panel consisted of moderator Kerry J Northrup, Ifra Publications Director; Peter Leijten, Senior Editor of Nrc.next in Holland; Peter Sands, Director of Training for the Press Association in the UK.; I Venkat, Advertising Director of Eenadu Group, D D Purkayastha, the new CEO of ABP Group; and Ashish Bagga, CEO, Living Media.
In the other sessions of the day, Andreas Schilling, Managing Director of Burda Community Network, Germany’s largest advertisement marketing company in the magazine market, gave some useful tips on maximising advertising revenue by creating media communities, that is, integrating newspaper advertising with a wide variety of other media, particularly online and mobile, plus events that create interactivity with people. He gave several examples of projects that Burda had undertaken for companies such as BMW.
Other speaker of the day, Jim Chisholm, Joint Principal at iMedia, delivered a lecture on strategic ideas for maximising advertising potential in newspapers.
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