The third annual South Asia newspaper conference, INMA 2009, culminated on August 28, 2009 in the Capital. The two-day event saw some of the most influential names in the newspaper industry discuss issues pertaining to newspaper audiences, the revenues of the medium and more on how newspapers marketers can survive in a challenging environment.
The session on ‘Outlook 2010: The newsmedia future’ saw Earl J Wilkinson, CEO and Executive Director, INMA, USA, take the audience around the world as he pondered over the burning issue of ‘Are we facing death of newspapers’. Wilkinson took the audience through North America, the UK, Ireland, India and other markets. In his presentation he discussed what kind of business models are likely, the emerging value for content, and preparation for the revolution ahead.
He said, “There are two kinds of newspapers – recession ridden and debt ridden. Most newspapers in the UK and the US are debt ridden.” While stressing on the value of content, Wilkinson said, “In normal times, value of content is a subject of academics, but as we desperately look for revenues and business models, we are increasingly talking about the value of content. However, we take our print mindset and shove it on mobile or online medium. What we don’t realise is that not all content is of equal value and not all platform experiences are the same.”
In the following session, titled ‘Monetising your content in the digital space’, Neville Taraporewalla, Director, India Advertiser and Publisher Solution Group, Microsoft, touched upon the immense opportunities of the online ecosystem. He said, “User generated content is produced by ordinary people who create media on mobile or Facebook, and these users are the new age publishers.”
He pointed out that today people were book marking, blogging, Tweeting or indulging in what, is now called, vlogging on YouTube. “Technology has given immense power to users, who can connect, share or broadcast their experiences and brands are included in them. New technology has multiplied their growth,” Taraporewalla said, adding that Microsoft had the underlying technology that allowed the advertisers to reach out to the customer who was creating this content.
The session on ‘Outlook on newsprint: The manufacturers’ view’, saw Hartmut Wurster, Executive Vice President, Technology and President of the Newsprint Division (2008) UPM-Kymmene Corporation, Augsburg, Germany take the stage. He said, “Newsprint in the current economic scenario has changed a lot from the 1980s to 2008. Newsprint has a strong impact on the demand, especially in mature markets. We now see that the rate of decline is slowing down, and despite the current rate of decline there are several leading indicators that are encouraging, especially in the Asian markets, which have shown the best results with the total newsprint demand being 14 million tons, while the global newsprint demand is 35 million tons.”
Speaking on India, Wurster said, “The Indian newsprint is 2 million tons and imports here play a very strong role in supply, which makes the Indian market a very dynamic one.”
Another key session was ‘A world-wide perspective on magazine trends’. Speaking on this session, Peter Phippen, Managing Director, BBC Magazine, BBC Worldwide, London UK, brought forth some important points to emphasise the fact that magazines were here to stay. He said, “We believe that magazines have a great role to play in cross media ownership. Magazines have a great heritage and their sales have risen and will continue to grow. The experience of reading is in good health and will continue to indulge people; magazines have a unique connect with readers. Magazines are bought by opinion makers in the market and it is not a media that is volatile.”
In the session titled ‘Migration from Print to Digital’, Frederic Filloux, Editor, Schibsted International, Norway and Editor, Monday Note, Paris spoke on the way the era is now moving towards digitalisation and made some interesting observations. He said, “The Internet is a massive deflation in our business. A few years back, investing in a website was way too expensive as against today, where the price is much more affordable. Today, technology empowers journalism, news is changing and information is no longer monolithic. Today, we have more exclusive audience who don’t really care about the brand, and they are switching from one channel to another all the time. Today, the key words are ‘buzz’ and ‘resonance’, accuracy is secondary and the quality of audience is niche, but the fact is that they are willing to pay.”