Newspaper publishers, editors and marketing executives from more than
60 countries met in Athens (Greece) to explore ways to lure back and
build existing relationships with readers, and to hear some of the most
innovative – and effective – marketing strategies from industry
experts. The 2005 World Editor and Marketeer Conference and Expo was
organized by the World Association of Newspapers and took place on 17
and 18 November.
Jim Chisholm, director of WAN’s Shaping of the Future of the Newspaper project spoke about two new online threats to the newspaper industry: ‘bloggers’ and news aggregators like “Google” and how newspapers can turn these threats into opportunities. The key, he says, is to accept the vast changes taking place and start adapting to them now.
The emergence of news aggregators, such as the search engine Google, which scan the internet for newspaper content and offer it under one umbrella, and “bloggers”, individuals who examine a wide variety of online news sources and provide their own analysis on personal websites, pose a very real challenge to newspapers.
“Everyone is wanting to get in on the creation of news – you can see this happening in other forms of media - call in programs and listener requests are very common on the radio and reality television is increasingly popular. The world is full of millions and millions of people who want to do our job for us, and publish stories on their own. Because of this, production editors no longer have staffs of 50 -- they have a staff of 50,000. The irony is that only now are newspapers starting to survey and poll their readers to see what they want. We are behind,” says Chisholm. “To survive, we need to Accept, Adopt and Adapt”.
“Newspapers have the power to turn these threats into opportunities,” says Chisholm. “The advantage for newspapers is that we have the opportunity to create the optimal community. Search engines like Google can find content, but their weakness is that they have to wait for someone else to write the story.”
Therefore Chisholm recommends one fundamental change in particular: “Newspapers can no longer simply report the news, we must become involved in communities and interact with our readers. We must have a local relationship with our readers, and focus on speed to market. We have to maximize contact with our readers, and we have to go from the concept of being a single printed medium to being a club, where people participate.”
Newspapers must learn to adapt quickly to change and the speed with which things change: In 2020, airline travel will have tripled, 60 percent of the world's population will live in cities, broadband access will be ubiquitous, Play Station users will be parents and a generation brought up with interaction will be taking charge.
Chisholm remains positive about the change: “This is the most exciting time to be in print than any I've seen in 30 years," he says. "Newspapers are innovating, they are creating new products, they are taking chances and they are adapting to change."
For more on the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project, go to