Innovations for digital and print media

Combining technical innovations with quality content

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The focus in many of the lectures to be held on 8 and 9 October during IFRA World Publishing Expo and DCX Digital Content Expo in Messe Berlin will be on innovations for digital and print media. Whereas the spotlight on the stage will be first and foremost on new business models and corporate culture, the exhibition area will especially feature the latest product innovations of the suppliers.

To generate 40% of turnover through paid content, and therefore through readers – according to Juan Señor – is a suitable target for news media. In his keynote speech to be delivered on 9 October 2019, on the Conference Stage of the IFRA and DC dual exhibition event, the president of the Innovation Media Consulting Group will devote his remarks to his special area of expertise, i.e. innovation in the media business. Already in 2018, in a report on innovation published by the World Association of Newspapers and News Media WAN-IFRA, he called for a change in direction. “Don’t wait for the future when high numbers of online users generate sufficient income through advertising revenues. Instead, offer solid journalism that readers are willing to pay for – that is the innovative approach of the future,” says Señor.

According to this innovation expert, there will be no ‘magic solution’ of a technological nature. For this reason, in his opinion, publishers have no choice but to once again exercise their journalistic core competency and develop metrics that they can use to better get to know their users and their preferences. In his paper, he will present business models and business strategies that news media have already successfully applied. At the same time, he will call for a radical cultural change in organizations.

Cultural change in media organizations

Sonja Kretzschmar, head of the Institute of Journalism, Management and Media Faculty at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, in her paper on innovation strategy to be given on 8 October, recommends thinking holistically, beyond individual products. Of importance in her view are quality criteria in conjunction with a specific budget, e.g. how much time to invest in research or verifying the information. She has also recognized that corporate culture offers leverage for more innovation. Projects such as the introduction of new products or work processes are more likely to succeed if the personnel are included in the task of selection as well as the definition of targets for innovation.

The professor has observed that the challenges can differ greatly depending on the medium concerned. “Above all, it is regional and local daily newspapers that have to deal with a very clear change in their users as well as an organizational structure that reacts only very sluggishly towards innovations. It should be the job of the human resources people to promote a corporate culture in which personnel are receptive towards innovation.” According to Kretzschmar, this applies especially in relation to the use of new technology, such as automated text-generating programs that, under the heading of ‘robot journalism’, because personnel to fear for their jobs. Against this background, an important future task for the news media is also to offer personnel advanced training and thus help ensure their employability.

Combine latest technology with quality contents

Technical innovations, such as Artificial Intelligence, voice or Big Data, are playing an increasingly important role for all facets of media production and distribution. This development is reflected in the exhibition area of the two exhibitions where, alongside established industry leaders, many start-ups are represented with their latest solutions that are equally suitable for use by news media and corporate publishers. However, besides online media, print media can also do innovation – a fact demonstrated by the Print Innovation Award that will be presented for the second time in Berlin. On the Berlin Publishing Night on 8 October 2019, in the Tipi am Kanzleramt the winners in Gold, Silver and Bronze will be announced and honored.

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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