Monday, October 15, 2007

An event to remember


The IfraExpo in Vienna, this year, a first for the city, saw 10,600 newspaper and media experts from 87 countries participating. Whew! Some numbers that. At the international exhibition for the newspaper industry held in the city of music, it became clear that while print continues to play the lead, it is receiving increasing cross-media support from the Internet and mobile services.

The Expo, held in the two exhibition halls (15,126 m² floor space) of the Reed Messe in Vienna, recorded the highest number of exhibitors since the first Ifra exhibition in 1970: 367 exhibitors (a 9 percent increase compared to Amsterdam in 2006) from 33 countries showed proven and innovative technology solutions as well as new business models for publishing houses. These included 100 companies, mainly from Austria, the neighbouring Eastern European states and the U.S.A.

One of the main attractions during IfraExpo was the special exhibition dedicated to the Ifra XMA Cross Media Awards 2007 competition that was held for the second time. Thirty-six publishing houses from 18 countries entered a total of 50 projects for Ifra XMA 2007. This year’s focus was on cross-media projects for ‘creating and building communities’. From the Hotel Hilton Danube, where the Ifra team stayed, it is just a 15-minute brisk walk to the Rein Messe. Of course, most of us took the bus that was arranged in the morning, but there were quite a few who trudged along a shorter route alongside the Danube to the Expo. The arrangements at the venue were superb – several resting spots, cafes, two large restaurants, even coffee-and-snack trolleys on the move. While Halls A and B where the suppliers exhibited their ware became the focus of activity through the three days, with supplier-prospective client groups engaged in discussion after discussion, the conference halls (Schubert and Lehar) were much quieter, with various speakers focused on engaging the audience. Attendance was not even for all sessions though, it depended on the ability of the speaker. Delegates felt free to get up and leave or to not attend at all. I was helping the Ifra publishing team headed by Kerry Northrup with the Gazette. Except for a couple of stories I really did not have much work – the strong Ifra edit team comprising of editor-in-chief Dean Roper, deputy editors Valerie Arnould and Mari Pascual, and senior editors Charlotte Janischewski, Klaus Plummer and Brian Veseling took care of everything. I chipped in with some support for the multiblog as well, but only towards the end. There was also Stephan Leib, print publishing manager, and Anton Jolkovski, digital publishing manager. Quite a team! Kerry as usual was in charge of the multiblog. This time, he had three girls to help him. And they did not disappoint. One of them, Arlette, impressed me with her hard work and passion for the job. But more about Arlette, Ramtin Abidi, and the sights and sounds of Vienna later.

(Picture: a section of IfraExpo 2007 participants at the Cross Media Awards Nite, which was followed by celebration with cocktails on the first day.)

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