Wan-Ifra hosts Digital Media India and Newsroom Summit 2019 in Mumbai

Media houses discuss challenges affecting digital news

Digital Media India

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) hosted the 8th edition of its Digital Media India (DMI) conference on 19 and 20 February in Mumbai. Over 140 news media executives from over 15 countries attended the event. Together with the Newsroom Summit, this year’s DMI is powered by the World Editors Forum India chapter. The digital event brought together ideas on digital trends, technology, innovations and revenue strategies.

Michael Cooke, the outgoing editor of Toronto Star, started off the conference with a keynote address on leading from the front, and said, “Future of digital is not clear, but future of print is clear and is not a very happy one.” He urged the audience to embrace digital. On digital journalistic challenge, he continued, “They say that anger and hate spread faster than any other emotion … and so that’s lighting speed on social media … as a leader you have to stand strong in front of this tsunami of poison and threats.”

The two-day conference covered a smorgasbord of issues affecting the digital news media business such as digital transformation, revenue strategies, advertising, fake news, audience engagement and artificial intelligence.

The opening session included a panel discussion on how digital media companies, compared to technology giants, can garner the larger share of the revenue pie. The panel comprised Rajiv C Lochan, managing director and CEO, The Hindu Group, who chaired the discussion; Bharat Gupta, CEO, Jagran New Media and Anant Goenka, executive director, The Express Group.

“For The Hindu, digital accounts for less than 5% of the total revenue, but we do it profitably. The Hindu e-paper has been behind a paywall ever since it was launched. The brand quietly introduced a soft, optional paywall last week,” said Lochan.

Jagran garners about 3% of their revenue from digital. Within digital ad pie, 60% come from display advertising and that pie is increasing.

“How well we know our audience is where the digital journey begins. Brands need to know how the audience is consuming content and what do they want to consume” said Gupta. He continued, “There is still more to garner from digital advertising. And, if time spent by the audience in our product is substantial, then we are ready for reader payment. At the moment, less than 10% of the audience fit in this”.

Similarly, “Indian Express’ digital revenue is shy of 10%, but it is a fast-growing number. We have to know the audience and own that audience. And then sell them things that they would like to buy,” said Goenka. Brand credibility is the strength of news media companies that advertisers will respect this. And reader revenue would come if we find our content niche, he added.

The Newsroom Summit India program covered classic journalism challenges such as tackling need vs. want dilemma, social media impact on journalism, combating fake news and mobile first news strategy. The highlights of the Newsroom Summit India discussion on the first day was a panel on ‘gender parity in newsroom’ discussing how gender-friendly the newsrooms are and how to improve the current situation.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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