Wednesday, December 03, 2014

You can’t do without knowledge of technology and business today

While making a presentation at the recent WAN-IFRA Conference in New Delhi, a senior executive from HT Media explained how his organisation was focused on pursuing continuous improvements in environmental health, safety, compliance, quality, overall equipment effectiveness, and total cost productivity. The objective was to reduce per-page cost by reducing per-page consumption of raw materials by minimising wastage and maximising efficiency. Several companies now realise how important it is to reduce wastage and improve efficiency. And if the sights are set on maintaining the highest standards of productivity and raising the bar whenever possible, progress is assured.

In the case of HT Media, after a safety policy was implemented, training programmes held and weekly reviews conducted, there was a positive impactemployees had a significant awareness about total costs, there was higher employee engagement, there was critical thinking, increased generation of ideas and continuous feedback. All this not only triggered further improvement in the workflow, but also led to greater transparency in processes.

In today’s world, achieving operational excellence is critical. If you look at your editorial system, for instance, there must be maximum efficiency when feeding the many different media channels as well as optimal usability for satisfied users. Publishers and editors worldwide are increasingly realising this.

This sentiment is reflected in WAN-IFRA’s Trends in Newsrooms 2014 Report, which states that the only one thing certain in newsrooms today is Change. You have to necessarily innovate to survive. So, editors must evolve accordingly, the report points out, assuming an increasingly diverse range of responsibilities. Not only must s/ he be an expert editorial manager and an excellent people manager and team leader, but also a person with the stomach to lead innovation, an entrepreneur’s approach to new technologies and products, and possibly even the holder of a degree in business. How times have changed!

And in Koenig & Bauer’s headquarters in W├╝rzburg, KBA marketing director Klaus Schmidt, while stressing that printed newspapers would still be around in 2030, reflected a similar sentiment. The newspapers of 2030 would be different to today’s newspapers in terms of content and look, he said, adding that simply reducing costs led to a downward spiral and “surprising contents, smart commentaries and an attractive appearance are in demand… good editors and cutting-edge technology are thus essential”. 

Going green benefits readers and advertisers in the long run

Reading a newspaper in India is equivalent to travelling one km by car or four km by a motorbike, assuming that the mileage of a car is 12 km/ litre of petrol that of a motorbike is 50 km/ litre. It was an interesting point made by WAN-IFRA’s Anand Srinivasan when he spoke at the organisation’s 22nd Conference in Delhi recently. He added that reading a printed magazine and an Internet-based one generated the same amount of greenhouse gases. Now, when about 2.5 billion people around the world read newspapers in print and 800 million read them on digital platforms, we know how we are contributing to degradation of our environment. So, is there a way out?

Yes, there are ways but it will take concerted and continuous efforts by all, especially by those in charge of newspaper production. According to the Print Process Champions Group, France, there are broadly ten parameters that have to be seriously considered: energy efficiency, paper efficiency, water consumption, developer consumption, ink consumption, washing solvent consumption, dampening solution consumption, cardboard packing consumption, PE film packing consumption and liquid waste generation. In other words, the focus has to be constantly on a range of areas that can be broadly classified under raw material usage, lower power consumption and reduce waste generation. The big plus is that going green lowers costs, which in the long term can prove attractive to both readers and advertisers.