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Asian publications come to terms with the digital era

But print media is getting its due

Image Credit: Courtesy Gilles Demptos
Gilles Demptos, Director, Publications and Events and Editor, Asian Newspaper Focus WAN-IFRA Asia Pacific welcomes the participants.
Gulf News

Optimism and expectation were the main sentiments from the 4th Digital Media Asia 2012 organised by WAN-IFRA in Kuala Lumpur. It seems that Asian publishers are assimilating changes and assigning due importance for online ventures even as print still holds sway.

The likes of Star Media in Malaysia and Singapore Press Holding are exemplars of how the Asian media industry is embracing technology and adapting to new realities.

We had a dream that “every Malaysian will have at least one Star product on his home screen,” said Wong Siah Ping, chief operating officer for the digital business at Star Publications. Based on this premise the media entity developed a strategy for print, online and mobile devices, but not forgetting that each platform comes with its own experience and characteristics.

For the Business section, they developed an app that allows users to stay informed with the latest news, stock prices and update notifications from companies.

Wong Siah also suggested using iSnap for the print edition; it will bring a “newspaper to life” through augmented reality technology. It allows users to watch videos, picture galleries and other features by hovering a smartphone over any page, article or advertisement in the print edition which carry the iSnap logo.

Another important tidbit came from Johnson Goh, vice-president for strategic marketing at Singapore Press Holding’s Online Classifieds. He said: “If you are strong in print media, don’t make the mistake to ignore other media platforms.” Some publishers did not anticipate the print decline early enough to commit investments to online.

When the subject is web responsive design, Grig Davidovitz, CEO of RGB Media Inc, believes it’s not enough to deliver content in modules that adapt automatically according to the platform. Each platform has a news experience and it should be free to create information packages with flexible templates.

The problem is that many websites have a fixed template that cannot change. According to Davidovitz, every article in the news stream should get a template suited to its needs and let the editors free to choose the best way to present the news. Readers wanted news organisations to display less content in order to highlight the essential information.

Paid content or not? The question still persist but one thing is sure — consumers pay for valuable and quality content. Payments are not easy to come by if you are not New York Times.

But imagine if all media publishers in a country unite with one objective: to charge for the content. You will not leave many options for the reader. It’s exactly what Piano Media did by creating a cable TV subscription model adapted to news media for major media outlets from Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland.

Words like “data’’, “premium” and ‘’engagement” were used in nearly all the presentations. With data it is possible to create a premium content. Publishers need to understand how their audiences are consuming their content on multiple platforms and the engagement with the product need not only be with audiences but with advertisers as well.

According to Dr. Mario Garcia, founder and CEO of Garcia Media, “The tablet is here to stay… if you don’t have a tablet presence yet, this is a good time to start. Finally, if you are in a career transition — or feel that your print background sets you back — let this seminar be the start of your re-invention.

“Don’t lament what was. Celebrate what is.”





News designing in the Middle East


The Society for News Design - Middle East and Africa hosted the first news design competition for newspapers and magazines in the region. Publications need to submit their best designed pages in various categories such as the best front page and cover, best news page, etc.

The competition has no entry fee and all publishing houses are invited to participate. The entry should be submitted in pdf format only and the deadline is December 10.

For more information about the competition, visit