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Indian Media Leaders eSummit: Leaders call for efforts to make the readers pay for the news they consume

2020-09-23. The World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) hosted the first virtual edition of the Indian Media Leaders eSummit on 21 and 22 September, with more than 500 news media executives registered from across South Asia. The summit brought together ideas on business transformation, future of news, structural changes in the Indian journalism revenue pattern.

by Vincent Peyrègne vincent.peyregne@wan-ifra.org | September 23, 2020

Among other topics, it addressed future business models, reader engagement and distributed newsrooms with the pandemic as the backdrop. The WAN-IFRA India 2020 – Printing Summit, India’s popular annual event for technology and print production managers, follows the ‘Indian Media Leaders eSummit’ on 23-24 September.

During his opening remarks, K N Shath Kumar, Director of The Printers Mysore Ltd., Chairman of the WAN-IFRA South-Asia Regional Advisory Board and Member of the WAN-IFRA Supervisory Board, said that “news publishers are looking at ways to restructure their businesses”. “Publishers need to adapt to the digital environment in a faster phase to leapfrog into the future and monetise the digital offering quickly,” he added.

The keynote address by Gary Liu, CEO of the South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd, kicked off the virtual summit. Liu shed light on SCMP’s digital transformation story, from a print giant to an agile digital-first enterprise, while weathering the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal operational disruption. “For us to grow, we needed to look outside of Hong Kong. We looked at our masthead and realised that there was value in telling the story of China to the rest of the world, just like when we were founded in 1903,” he said. SCMP had to report about China from Hong Kong to the rest of the world, and for that, the company required three distinct pillars of change:

  • Brand and identity: To transform how SCMP meant to translate its mission globally.
  • Process and structure: The company focussed on digital production and built a collaborative newsroom to ensure seamless digital production. Of the 350 employees, 330 are on the digital side, while only 20 to handle print. The company also rebuilt its entire data stack so that it could get proprietary real-time data that informs most of the editorial decision making now.
  • Product and technology: The company aimed to become platform agnostic.

SCMP launched its digital subscription product for Asia in August, and will expand globally in the coming months. “This value exchange is abundantly clear. We are giving you access to a close information system. This is not an easy path forward,” said Liu.

The opening keynote was followed with a discussion by CEOs of Indian media companies on the way forward to Indian news media business post-COVID. The panellists comprised of Sivakumar Sundaram (Chairman – Group Executive Council, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.), Jayant Mammen Mathew (Executive Editor & Director, Malayala Manorama) and Anant Goenka, (Executive Director, The Indian Express Group). They said the pandemic had taught us to get readers to pay for the news they consume, though it is a tough act to follow. The panel also affirmed that several new models would continue to evolve, and the role of reporters and journalists will change. It will require them to ensure their stories are read, packaged differently for different media channels. The panel concluded that it’s a great time to be in the news media business, and COVID-pandemic has only brought them closer to the readers. Newsrooms have to be flexible, adaptive, continue to focus on field reporting and do good journalism, it added. Nidhi Razdan, Associate Professor of Journalism at Harvard University, chaired the panel.

The event saw discussions on where advertising is headed, how newsrooms should invest in new products and technology, and zero in on alternate revenue models. Indian primary revenue driver is still advertising, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. It addressed the urgent need for distributed newsrooms where ‘work from home’ has become the new normal. There was also a discussion on why journalism needs a constructive approach in changing the global news culture, a discussion on digital subscriptions and a panel on increasing the participation of women in media leadership, hosted by WAN-IFRA’s Women in News initiative.

The conference closed with a keynote address by Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO, The Globe and Mail, Canada, on driving business transformation from print to digital.

The Indian Media Leaders eSummit was sponsored by Google News InitiativeStibo DX, adpushup and ppi. It is supported by Asian News Media FocusWorld News Publishing Focus, gxpress.netRIND SurveyIndian Printer and PublisherPress IdeasPrint and Publishing, and All About Newspapers. The conference also included a virtual expo where delegates had the opportunity to meet and network with exhibitors via video calls and chat.

WAN-IFRA INDIA 2020 – PRINTING SUMMIT 2020, 23-24 SEPTEMBER

WAN-IFRA India 2020- Printing Summit, India’s popular annual event for technology and print production managers, follows the Indian Media Leaders eSummit on 23-24 September. The event is in its 28th edition this year. It will discuss print production during COVID, managing resources, IT in production and newspaper distribution, among other things. The detailed programme of the Printing Summit can be found at www.wan-ifra.org/india2020.

ABOUT INDIAN MEDIA LEADERS ESUMMIT 2020

The complete details of the programme are available at www.wan-ifra.org/indiaesummit2020 

The conference can be followed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wanifraindiaconference and on Twitter with the hashtag #IMLeS2020

For a calendar of upcoming WAN-IFRA events, please visit events.wan-ifra.org


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