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Indian voices at World Newspaper Congress

By Mehru Jaffer, IANS,

Vienna: As the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum kick off here Wednesday, doing the talking will be some veteran editors from India as also young voices from the country, seen here as quick and adept at seizing new opportunities.

Newspaper editors from around the world will examine the impact of the financial crisis on the media apart from discussing hot topics like the Arab Spring and how to make better use of social media like Facebook.

N. Ram, editor in chief of The Hindu, will join Charlie Becket of the London School of Economics, Daniel Domsheit-Berg, founder of Germany’s OpenLeaks, Tom Kent of American news agency Associated Press and Mathias Müller von Blumencron, editor in chief of German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, in a discussion on the next step for newspapers after the WikiLeaks at the 63rd World Newspaper Congress.

Today information provided by WikiLeaks is considered both suspicious and welcome by breaking news. It is a source and yet not a source and has prompted a change in the journalist-source relationship. Newspapers have to think about how to deal with such organisations and how to establish whether they have their own agendas. Should news publications develop their own digital leaking systems?

The theme of the World Newspaper Congress is “Taking publishing to the next level”, and the three-day conference revolves around some of the main levers required to move the industry forward, including branding and repositioning, new business and revenue models, digital platforms and revenues, finance and investment, modern leadership, technology and sustainability.

Together with the World Editors Forum, the World Newspaper Congress is the globe’s most important annual summit of the world’s press, bringing publishers, managing editors, chief editors and other senior newspaper executives as well as global experts and thinkers under one roof.

India’s Shyam Parekh, Ahmedabad editor of DNA, will spar with Simon Kelner, editor in chief of UK’s The Independent, Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president, Knight Foundation, USA and professor George Brock, head of Journalism at London’s City University, over innovation in print.

Despite an increasing focus on digital, print is still where newspapers make most of their money and speakers will give examples of best practices that have helped to maintain and increase readership in challenging times.

All eyes are on the youth here. There is much buzz over winning strategies for engaging the young.

Newspapers must reach the newest generation of young people where they are and with both authenticity and strong sense of engagement to ensure their future success.

The youthful Mariam Mammen Mathew is head of the Indian magazine Manorama Online and she will share a podium with Madhav Chinnappa, head of strategic partnerships, Google News, UK to talk digital at a time when the fastest growth area for most newspapers is all things digital. The iPad is just over a year old, Facebook and Twitter are just a little bit older. That they are a huge success with the young around the world is no secret.

Mariam and Madhav represent the innovative face in India and they will be heard along with other speakers on the trends and success factors in digital, what new business and revenue models are promising, and what role social media will play, now and in the future.

(Mehru Jaffer can be contacted at [email protected])