Wan-Ifra 2023 reaffirms strength of the newspaper business in India

The Indian Printers Summit 2023, organised by Wan-Ifra, was held at Marriott Hotel in Kochi, on 14-15 September. The 31st edition of the event brought together more than 300 media leaders from around 75 organisations.

20 Sep 2023 | By PrintWeek Team

Speakers from various prestigious news publications discussed the role of renewable energy, sustainability and Industry 4.0 in print operations

The two-day event witnessed an overwhelming response from the attendees, reaffirming the strength of the newspaper publishing business in India. The event featured a diverse range of sessions and exhibitions that celebrated innovation, sustainability, and excellence in print.

During the conference opening remarks, Jacob Mathew, former president, Wan-Ifra and managing editor, Malayala Manorama, said, “We have been able to keep our print business alive thanks to the resilient business strategies of news publishers. This conference gives us the opportunity to learn from some of the best business practices as they share their experiences.”

He addressed the various challenges that the news industry has been facing today and encouraged the media industry to enhance its use of the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

The keynote address by Mylene Sylvestre, publishing director, Guardian News & Media, who joined the audience live from London, reflected on how print still plays a crucial role for The Guardian, and offered valuable perspectives on the coexistence of print and digital media in today's media landscape.

The panel discussion on the print business trends and current demands of the industry in India was moderated by Vinodini Sukumar, managing director, Team One Advertising. The panellists included varghese chandy, vice-president, marketing and advertising sales, Malayala Manorama; Sudeep Kumar, general manager - media solutions (print), Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing; Oommen Thomas, national head, ad sales, ABP; Pradeep Singh, head of integrated sales, Amar Ujala; and Deepak Saluja, chief executive officer, Metropolitan Media Company.

The panel discussed various initiatives and strategies to attract younger audiences and explained how these changes led to increased profitability for businesses. The panellists acknowledged the growing trend of younger audiences avoiding the news. They collectively agreed that the print medium can remain relevant in India through publisher resilience and active engagement with advertisers and audiences.

On the first day of the event, speakers from various prestigious news publications discussed the role of renewable energy, sustainability and Industry 4.0 in print operations.

The Indian Printers Summit featured two parallel tracks of the conference: the Printing Summit and the Advertising Summit, providing attendees with comprehensive insights into the industry’s dynamics.

The Best in Print Asia 2023 Awards were presented at the end of the first day of the event. The awards recognise newspapers across Asia who excel in printing the newspaper as per ISO 12647-3 and Wan-Ifra quality standards.

The awards were presented in two categories - newspapers with circulation of less than 100,000 copies and newspapers with circulation of more than 100,000 copies. The Times of India, United Printing & Publishing, Abu Dhabi, Anandabazar Patrika, Malayala Manorama and The Hindu emerged the winners.

Earlier in the day, Wizone, Wan-Ifra’s new online marketplace was launched.

The second day of the summit started with a keynote by Laya Menon, executive vice-president & business head, South, Lodestar UM (IPG Mediabrands) and she presented insights into understanding media solutions from the advertisers’ eyes.

Emmy D'Silva, engineering and newsprint consultant, received a standing ovation from the audience for his insightful session on newsprint. The session addressed the reasons behind newsprint cost fluctuations in India and elsewhere.

The summit concluded with a session on newspaper distribution and circulation, featuring M Rajagopalan Nair, vice-president, circulation, and Cinu Mathews, chief general manager circulation, both from Malayala Manorama. They shared the remarkable circulation success story of the Kerala market and how they ensured newspaper distribution even during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The concluding panel included insights from Sridhar Aranala, vice-president, sales and distribution, The Hindu Group; Devika MS, director of operations, Mathrubhumi; and Vinod Bidwaik, group director, HR, Sakal Media Group.

The panellists expressed their views on the potential benefits of publishers collaborating and sharing distribution infrastructure to enhance operational efficiencies.

During the end of the summit, Magdoom Mohamed, managing director, Wan-Ifra South Asia, said, “This year we saw higher engagement levels, one of the finest. I appreciate the curiosity to learn when we come back after a year.”

Over the course of the two-day conference, various industry leaders and insiders shared their expertise and experiences on print readership, production, circulation and distribution, and print augmenting the growth of other mediums.