Wan-Ifra launches new program in the Middle East

Aimed to drive newsroom transformation towards reader revenue success

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Wan-Ifra
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Members of the BuzzFeed News team work at their desks at BuzzFeed headquarters, December 11, 2018 in New York City. BuzzFeed is an American internet media and news company that was founded in 2006. According to a recent report in The New York Times, the company expects to surpass 300 million dollars in earnings for the 2018 fiscal year. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A Wan-Ifra program tailored to pioneering Middle Eastern newsrooms, the Newsroom Transformation Programme 2021 will be launched on May 18, 2021. It will provide intensive coaching, training, and mentoring over three months to senior editorial and commercial participants. Ten selected news publishers across the Middle East will be able to speed up the transformation of their newsrooms to ensure they are both audience-centric and sustainable.

The participants will be drawn from the ten news organizations which are selected from applications by Wan-Ifra members in the region. A formal call for applicants will go out next week.

Facebook and Wan-Ifra have partnered to launch the new initiative. Mechthild Schimpf, director Middle East of Wan-Ifra, said, “All over the world, newsrooms are having to transform to stay relevant and sustainable – and not only because of Covid-19. We are delighted that through this partnership with Facebook, we can be a catalyst and help news publishers in the region develop the skills and generate ideas to move their newsrooms and products to the next level.”

Facebook is committed to ensuring traditional news outlets can create thriving digital businesses. Our partnership with Wan-Ifra to bring the Newsroom Transformation Programme 2021 to the Middle East reinforces these efforts that support the news ecosystem in the region,” said Mohamed Omar, strategic partner manager, News Partnerships Middle East, and North Africa at Facebook.

The program will focus on four key themes topics:

Understanding waves of disruption to news media. Participants will learn to plan, lead and manage transformation while building a culture of innovation in the newsroom;

Developing an integrated editorial and business vision for the news organization and a content portfolio that supports the needs of different revenue streams (including advertising);

Defining target audiences and planning audience development for acquisition, activation, engagement, and retention. It will focus on new product development in cooperation with relevant parts of the organization;

Identifying the new operational skills and capabilities needed to deliver the editorial strategy. It will equip participants to plan new workflows and adjust newsroom resources to execute on a new strategy.

Co-leaders of the program will be George Brock and Gregor Waller.

George Brock is a former managing editor of The Times (London) and professor of journalism at City, University of London. He has been president of the World Editors Forum and served on the board of the International Press Institute. He is the author of Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age. He was co-leader of the Newsroom and Business Transformation Asia 2020, also set up by Wan-Ifra and Facebook.

Gregor “Greg” Waller is a globally active media consultant focused on both business and editorial elements of digital transformation. Greg Waller holds an MBA in strategic management with Prof Dr Ebers (former Associate Professor of Professor Michael E. Porter, Harvard). He worked for Axel Springer as head of Strategy and Innovation and member of the board of Welt and regional quality papers. He introduced Axel Springer’s first paywalls in 2009. As a core member of the corporate Premium Content task force, he shaped the premium content strategies for Bild and Welt.

Wan-Ifra is the World Association of News Publishers. Its mission is to protect the rights of journalists and publishers around the world to operate independent media. Wan-Ifra provides its members with expertise and services to innovate and prosper in a digital world and perform their crucial role in society. With formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe, it derives its authority from its global network of leading news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, and its legitimacy from its 60 national association members representing 18,000 publications in 120 countries.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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