(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The push towards the consumption of news across digital channels has opened the world for readers, experts at the 13th edition of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) Middle East Conference noted.
Organised in association with Dubai Production City (DPC), the event drew the participation of over 300 experts. The two-day event will run until March 1, and aims to provide publishing executives with an opportunity to discover the latest in regional and global media industry trends and best practices.
"The media landscape in the region is changing dramatically - from the ways news is shared to the ways it is consumed. It is critical that we address these challenges and navigate the market smartly. Publishers must transform their content as well as business and distribution models, and embrace a more collaborative and interactive approach that recognises the potential value of user-generated content, blogs, social media activism, and data-driven journalism," said Majed Al Suwaidi, MD of Dubai Production City.
Gunilla Asker, VD/CEO of Svenska Dagbladet, spoke about how the Swedish newspaper had set out to determine how readers today consume news, and their resulting digital strategy that had turned the newspaper into a popular choice with readers in the country.
"What we are dealing with is change," Asker said at the event. "But, the thing about change is that you don't see the fundamentals of disruption coming, and then suddenly they become big."
Looking at the industry, officials at the company understood that immediate actions were required. "We had to initiate lots of cost saving measures and we made huge investments in sophisticated CRM systems and digital developments. We started a long-term strategy to keep our company profitable. When we looked at the industry, we didn't see it as a dead end jetty, rather, we saw it as a bridge."
She also noted that the company quickly determined that the focus should be on what people want. Consumers don't necessarily stop reading print and start consuming digital entirely, she said. There are some users that only consume news on their mobiles, and there are others that like to have a mixture of both print and digital.
"We determined some basic needs that we had to ensure were being catered to," she said. "The first has to do with digital simplicity. You need to make the experience as easy as possible for your readers so that they can enjoy it. Then there is an element of surprise, which is especially essential when it comes to morning newspapers. And of course, there is intellectual respect. This is something that you have to deliver."
Similarly, Thomas Jacob, COO at Wan-Ifra Germany, noted that organisations whose leaders model the right innovation behaviours for others to follow are more than four times as likely to be reporting significant increases in revenues, compared with organisations which do not.
Younger generations, he noted, are willing to pay for content as long as they believe in the company's vision. Their main demand, he said, is for accurate news and data that has been carefully fact checked.
"Attention is the old currency, trust is the new one," he stressed. "Publishers should be moving the focus from reach to loyal communities that are willing to pay for content. It is impossible to reach out to everyone that consumes news and hope that they will turn into paid subscribers. You need to look at your loyal demographic and see how you can provide them with a product that caters to their needs."-
Rohma Sadaqat I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.