The WAN-IFRA Conference in
India has now become a premier
event for publishers, editors, technical directors/ managers and journalists.
Although this is the 22nd year of the conference, it really took off
after the WAN-IFRA India office was established in 2001. Until then IFRA only
had a representative office. With R.V. Rajan shepherding the team in the early
years till about 2008, and Magdoom Mohamed ably taking on the baton, the
conference has seen attendance grow; it’s now almost become a must-attend event
for many. There is a lot of work that goes into organisng the event, most of it
done quietly from a nook on the third floor of the
campus in Chennai where the WAN-IFRA South Asia office is headquartered. And
come to think of it, it is quite amazing that a small team is able to pull off
a huge event like this. A lot of the success, I’m sure, Magdoom and team owe to
Rajan, for all the lessons they learnt from him. SIET College
One of the reasons for the popularity of the conference is that it usually manages to bring worthwhile case studies from newsrooms and provides perspectives on news businesses and news production from around the world. Recent years have seen the conference having three parallel sessions or summits as they are called – Newsroom, Printing and Crossmedia Advertising. There are also pre-conference workshops that some find quite useful (this time, the workshops are on Data Journalism, New Media Metrics and Densitometry).
Although the attendance has been encouraging, the same cannot be said about support by exhibitors (suppliers to the newspaper industry). Many feel there’s no point spending money to exhibit products when there is hardly any investment in new newspaper presses. Given the situation, it may not be a happy time for several of the ancillary industries that are dependent on presses running. With the newspaper market doing well in
and most of the revenue coming from print, publishers are not really too keen
in making heavy investments on the digital front. Digital subscription and
digital revenue are not streams they can bank on – at least for now. So, there
is a lull. There is no Expo this year but I understand there will be
‘info-tables’ at the foyer for a few exhibitors.
There are several interesting sessions lined up in Delhi, starting September 16. I am looking forward to listening to T.N. Ninan speak about the blurring line between business editorial. Another interesting session is likely to be the one on the digital transformation of Malayala Manorama and how the ‘print-strong’ publisher is gearing up to face the digital revolution, session to be handled by Mariam Mammen Mathew, COO, Manorama Online. WAN-IFRA’s
tells me that a not-to-be-missed session will be the one by Thomas Smolders,
head of International Roll-out, Blendle, The Netherlands, on how a Dutch
start-up has united newspapers of The Netherlands under a single paywall and
what the business model is. The title is quite interesting: iTunes of Print
Media. Can alliances between newspapers in India help? Perhaps. There’s a
session on that too, by HT’s VP Marketing. I also wish to attend a panel
discussion on Day 2, focusing on where our future readers are and whether the
reading habit is vanishing among the younger generation. Later that afternoon,
there is a session titled, Working Together with Google. Now, that surely will
be well attended.