Wan-Ifra’s 3rd Indian Media Leaders eSummit 2022

Key message – content and trust important for growth


The third edition of Wan-Ifra’s Indian Media Leaders eSummit (IMLeS) is being held virtually from 28 to 30 June, with more than 250 news media executives from more than 40 organizations in attendance. The conference, themed ‘Ideas for news realities’ covers a range of news publishing topics, such as digital transformation, changing audience engagement trends, business innovation, newsroom leadership, and diversity and inclusion.

Day 1 of the conference started off with Stig Ørskov, CEO, JP/Politikens Hus, Denmark and vice president of Wan-Ifra, sharing insights on the recipe for growth of the news media business. He said, “It is really about the true value of content and how we monetize it. Publishers should take steps to build subscriptions wherever possible which consequently raises trust in media.”

The keynote was followed by a fireside chat between Raju Narisetti, leader, Publishing, McKinsey & Co., and Ritu Kapur, co-founder of The Quint, highlighting the trends and emerging opportunities in the news media business. Raju said publishers have to create a layer of experience that is unique to their brand on the stories they publish. This will create value and bring people back to their brands, and help publishers monetize the content. He also said contextual advertising is going to become a lot bigger and publishers have to think about it.

The post-pandemic world has seen a rebound of advertising and stabilising circulation. However, macroeconomic developments such as inflation and newsprint prices are impacting the news business. How do South Asian CEOs respond to these developments?

The first day closed with a panel discussion between Dhruba Mukherjee (CEO, ABP), Dr Bhaskar Das (director, Unica Token), Sarmad Ali (managing director, Jang Media Group), and Rajeev Beotra (executive director, HT Media), moderated by Pradyuman Maheshwari, senior editor & media commentator. The speakers agreed that to be successful in the future, media companies have to pivot to the business of content (not restricted to format) and change their business model.

Earlier in the session, Mohit Jain, executive president of Bennett, Coleman, board member of Wan-Ifra and president of the Indian Newspaper Society, opened the summit and shared his optimism for news media and newspaper business in particular. “Till the time the curiosity in human nature will survive or remain, content will never get out of fashion,” he said.

Day 2 addressing challenges within the newsroom

Day 2 of IMLeS started off with Singapore Press Holdings’ Gaurav Sachdeva sharing how the brand’s audience helped it create products to meet real needs and expectations. He mentioned the product development process is a combination of technology, viability of business and empathy for people. All three to be addressed equally to be successful.

The second day of the conference also played host to a panel of eminent journalists including Kunal Pradhan (managing editor, Hindustan Times), Harsha Mathew (chief resident editor & director, Malayala Manorama), Debarati Guha, director of Asia Programmes, Duetsche Welle and Parikshit Bhardwaj (GM and head – Content & Strategy, Jagran New Media). The panel discussed the challenges of working in and running a post-pandemic newsroom.

They shared how news content and format changed because of the pandemic, making way for data-researched and video stories. Post pandemic, it has strengthened the belief of newsrooms on the choice of stories, focus on the more relevant ones and making the newsrooms more efficient.

The day closed with a session on the business case to build a diverse and inclusive newsroom and diversity practices at German broadcaster Deutsche Welle by its editor Akansha Saxena.

The conference continues till 30 June and includes a session by Google News Initiative on sustainable growth pillars and news consumer insights. It will also see a session on changing consumer and advertisers needs at DB Corp. The closing session will have Schibsted’s Tor Jacobsen talking about digital subscriptions and the brand’s overall revenue strategy.

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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