The Wan-Ifra digital media conference attracted a full house this year. The participants this year included Indian language papers and some of the growing digital tribe from India and abroad – all hungry to sell editorial software to the assembled media. Importantly, there was more enthusiasm from both the speakers and the audience partly because of an increased appreciation of audience interaction by the speakers.
Publishing content on multiple platforms
kept the crowd interested and participative although the best
speakers came at the fag-end of the second day. Murugavel
Janakiraman, CEO of Bharat Matrimony, along with Dan Barth CEO of the
Oklahoma-based News OK gave a feel of the power of digital media in
revenue generation. Salil Kumar, COO of the India Today group gave
deep insights on how digital and print could be both winners and how
the work behind multi-platform news generation could be leveraged
from a single content source. He recounted the experience of India
Today, a single magazine in print in the 1970s that went to
become a huge media house with 36 magazines, 12 TV channels, 4 radio
stations and over two dozen websites, in forty years of existence.
“Print magazines, news letters, events, app development, audio
magazines, websites, television, video and digital platforms are
co-existing and growing at India Today,” said Kumar.
On the table this year were many more digital experiences, though
a lot of it came from people still admittedly in the learning stage
like HT Media, ABP and Jagran. These are early days for
the conference, and the Wan-Ifra team needs to further broaden the
discourse at the application end of the technology, especially to
look at changes in newsroom efficiencies and multi-platform
workflows. The challenge, said several speakers, is
also to increase the throughput like the digital giants have
while maintaining quality of content without turning journalists into
code writers and SEO operators. This can and should be done by
adaptation of the right mix of management systems and technology
While venturing into uncharted areas like social media or
cross-media news generation, a media house needs the right balance
and focus on generation of well researched news stories to be
relevant, and then curate and accelerate the news generated through
either established marketing or SEO inputs or third-party resources.
There is a need for presentations on the application of technology
tools and use of management information systems and use of software
to automate broadcast.
Press freedom and surveillance
The concluding part of
the first day had senior editors led by N Ravi, director of The
Hindu discussing surveillance and monitoring, privacy, and press
freedom. These issues are increasingly gaining importance reflected
KN Shanth Kumar the current chairman of the Press Trust of India
(PTI) in view of the increasing political intolerance across the
world. Though Julian Assange and Snowden, the poster boys of
resistance to authority for maintain integrity of public information
and news were lauded, the editors had little answer to the increased
polarization of Indian journalists and their affiliations to
political parties in India that makes them report as mouth pieces
without any accountability or factual integrity.
Outlook editor-in-chief Krishna Prasad recounted the
exposure of Nira Radia tapes and how only 300 of the 18,000 odd
conversations tapped by the Income Tax department were selected by
Outlook to expose the scandal. The focus was only on relevant
conversations of those involved in the 2G scam instead of the much
more juicy conversations that encroached privacy and were much more
sensational. He stressed the need for objectivity and was seconded by
Kalpesh Yagnik, the national editor of Dainik Bhaskar who
said that integrity and honesty of purpose was the prime
factor in news coverage.
Sandip Sen, March 2014 issue Indian Printer and Publisher
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