WAN-IFRA round-up of a rugged yet vibrant and full year

2020-12-22. With no surprise, the past year has been quite busy for the World Association of News Publishers and its members. In sharing their experience over the last few months, we’ve seen great examples of resilience, determination and creativity among news professionals and media technology entrepreneurs in trying to meet the situation eye to eye.

by Vincent Peyrègne | December 22, 2020

You make what we do possible, and we want to thank you for your continued investment with us. Without your loyalty and support, we would not be able to continuously provide our members with the valuable benefits they expect and actively develop our mission.

With no surprise, the past year has been quite busy for the World Association of News Publishers, its partners, and its network of news publishers and media tech companies. In talking to members and sharing their experience over the last few months, we’ve seen great examples of resilience, determination and creativity among news professionals and technology entrepreneurs in trying to meet the situation eye to eye. We hope you followed those reports from our member companies with our regular updates, our newsletters, and our virtual events.

Starting the year with a successful Digital Media India conference, little did we realise that the curtain-raiser in Mumbai would be our only in-person conference in 2020. With pandemic spreading across the world, we suspended all staff travel in mid-March and moved to work from home with safety as the foremost concern. Our professional lives have since then revolved around Zoom, more Zoom and then even more Zoom.

In March, it became evident that we were facing the “mother of all crisis”. WAN-IFRA’s scenario planning showed a financial loss that would have led us to collapse if we didn’t take the right steps swiftly. We drew up an emergency plan hinged on:

  1. Focused our effort to engage members, increasing our services to member communities regionally and topically;
  2. Pivot to virtual events creating value for members while generating sponsorship revenue;
  3. Securing funding for training and transformation projects that helped our members during the crisis;
  4. Aggressive reduction in operating costs and Personnel cost savings through wage cuts and short-time measures.

With the support from our members, the resilience and the WAN-IFRA team’s ingenuity, we survived and developed new services for our members. We are on track to deliver a positive result and collectively:

  • Delivered 34 business events – including 16 conferences – with a record number of 7,800 registrants coming from 130 countries;
  • Launched five new conferences including the ‘Media Leaders’ summit’ series;
  • Successfully pivoted to virtual events with a “Net Promoting Score” (NPS) score of 64 and maintained our objective for a gender-balanced panel of speakers;
  • Launched the Corona newsroom with valuable resources to guide members, and joined forces with other international organisations to launch the Independent News Emergency Relief Coordination (INERC) and coordinate help during the pandemic
  • Published a dozen reports with another 3 in the final stages;
  • Completed the first round of Table Stakes, our new performance-driven transformation programme for local news publishers. We secured round 2 for 2021 with increased participation;
  • Executed our Newsroom Transformation projects in APAC and Latam and extended our programme to the Middle East;
  • Secured new institutional funding for our professional development and press freedom programmes through the support from Temasek Foundation, the Swedish International Development Agency, the Danish and the Norwegian Ministries of Foreign Affairs, IREX, the EU, Facebook and GNI. They generously supported programmes including the Science in Newsroom project, Women in News, Quest, Inject and other regional and global programmes;
  • Launched a Young Media Leaders Fellowship in Asia and completed the first round of Stars4media, an exchange programme for your professionals in Europe;
  • Announced new partnerships with UNESCO and the Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership;
  • Increased the diversity of our governance bodies with the election of new Board Members;
  • Celebrated World News Day with participation from over 150 newsrooms;
  • Rewarded outstanding journalists: The Colombian Journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima was awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom 2020. Mary Mbewe received the 2020 Editorial Leadership Award for Africa;
  • Rolled out the new professional events platform to deliver a full conference experience in a single online platform;
  • Launched our new website based on WordPress for easier and quicker access to our content.

This is by no means the full list, but some highlights in 2020.

Our series of virtual business events programmed since the beginning of the pandemic had remarkable success. We have seen a record level of participation to 35 events organised between March and December, with more than 7,800 unique individual registrations (10,000 registrations in total) and 460 speakers, coming from 130 countries. As demonstrated by the record level of participation, these programmes are essential in building our members’ knowledge. They help us to learn from success and failures, share business strategy, link and connect ideas, weave with business peers and connect on emerging themes and insights. They also increase WAN-IFRA’s impact on its advocacy for economic sustainability and the right to freedom of information across the world. We can’t wait any longer to meet again in person when the situation allows! Next year, we’ll have a mix of virtual and physical events. You can already take a look at our programme of events for the coming year.

In the past year WAN-IFRA has published a series of new reports, including our latest published “Technology Guide and Directory”, and the must-read key takeaways from our recent Digital Media Europe conference on Reader Revenue and Subscription Marketing. All our reports are made available to members on our newly launched website at Make sure you do not miss what’s been published by WAN-IFRA by subscribing to one of our regular newsletters and our daily Executive News Service. The No. 1 most visited press trade association Website in the world with more than 18,000 unique monthly visitors in 2020 according to SEMrush, WAN-IFRA is the preferred global partner for news media publishers, media tech entrepreneurs and national associations.

WAN-IFRA reports 2020

Our Press Freedom advocacy and media development work has never been more meaningful. In 2021, WAN-IFRA is proud to enter into new meaningful and impactful international partnerships. It is gratifying to see that our partners value our active participation in the debate on the future of news and journalism. In recent weeks, we have announced the launch of a new joint initiative with UNESCO. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Agency confirmed their commitment to support our media development work in fragile states. WAN-IFRA members contribute significantly to those programmes in solidarity with our members in countries that are struggling economically or face political pressures.

In support of our work, new members have joined us in 2020. Considering the impact of the situation on health, work plans, finances and various other challenges facing us during this exceptional period, this has been incredibly rewarding to see almost seventy companies and publications signing in for membership in 2020. The power of WAN-IFRA is in its membership. It helps the organisation to build the programmes our members expect from us. WAN-IFRA is a global community of market-leading news media companies reinventing how they engage audiences and grow revenue in a multi-platform environment. Each member’s contribution also plays an essential solidarity role in supporting our media development programmes in the service of thousands of media professionals who value your backing.

Your WAN-IFRA team has spared no effort to make it through. To cope with the crisis, we have implemented an unprecedented contingency plan. With the combination of a drastic cost management plan, the launch of new coaching programmes funded by international institutional donors and the increased number of events free to members, WAN-IFRA will pass the end of the year with confidence. The pursuit of our mission in the service of the profession relies on the quality of our programmes and the support of our network of members and partners.

In 2021, journalists will continue to be targeted simply for doing their jobs. New threats will regularly undermine editorial independence and quality journalism. As media businesses are facing an unprecedented existential threat due to a dire global economic situation, collaboration is more than ever vital if we are to overcome the many challenges ahead. We, therefore, look forward to continuing the good work that we are doing together to promote and safeguard media freedom in a sustainable environment. In the service of each and for the good of all.

As we get ready to usher in 2021, with a sense of cautious optimism, the overarching goal for the year is to confirm WAN-IFRA’s leading role as the preferred organisation for the global news media ecosystem. Looking ahead, we can’t wait to accomplish great things in 2021. We’ll revert soon to update you about our upcoming membership programmes during the new year.

As always, if you encounter any difficulties with signing in, establishing a password, accessing our resources, or any other issue, we are here to help you at

We wish you and your loved ones a festive Holiday season and a good start for a successful and safe new year.

Read More

Interim Report December 2020: Download.

Visit WAN-IFRA’s Press Corner.

Vincent Peyrègne

Vincent Peyrègne took up duties as Chief Executive Officer of WAN-IFRA in 2012. Prior to joining WAN-IFRA, he was Head of Development at Edipresse in Switzerland (now Tamedia) with responsibility for audience insights, editorial marketing research and product development, before joining the office of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

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