Newspapers asked to evolve revenue model without compromising on mission
Debate at Annual Press Freedom Round Table centred on revenue-content divide
— Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
(Left to right) Chris Elliott, Managing Editor, The Guardian, United Kingdom, NajamSethi, Editor-in-Chief, Friday Times and Daily Times, Pakistan, with Sasa Vucinic,Managing Director of Media Development Loan Fund, during the 62nd World NewspaperCongress and WAN-IFRA Annual General Meeting in Hyderabad on Monday.
HYDERABAD: As the print medium faces a steep decline in advertisement revenue in the wakeof the economic slowdown, the debate over whether business interests or editorial content shoulddominate the content in newspapers continues to take centre-stage.The issue — which formed the core of the Annual Press Freedom Round Table on the theme“Free Press: what good is a mission without a business?” — evoked a lively discussion at the62nd World Newspaper Congress that began here on Monday.Though the discussion was centred on the way governments in different countries were creatingobstacles to the freedom of the press, speakers were united in supporting a model that enabled profitability of the organisation without deviating from the mission of a free press.The nearly four-hour discussion featured this year’s Golden Pen of Freedom award winner Najam Sethi of Pakistan, managing editor of
Chris Elliott, chairman of the Boardof Mail & Guardian, South Africa, Trevor Ncube, publisher of
, Guatemala, JozeRuben Zamora, CEO of
, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Irina Samokhina, and Morocco- based
publisher Ahmed Benchemsi.Mr. Ncube asserted that the biggestdefence to press freedom was profitable media, as “that bottom line is what defends you.” Aweak media, according to him, was susceptible to corruption and the government’s pressure, and“we also need an environment where publishers don’t have influence on editors.”Favouring a coherent commercial strategy in the light of increasing costs and the steep decline inadvertisement revenue vis-À-vis the cover price, Mr. Elliott said the relation of press freedomwith business strategy was like tectonic activity, rubbing between the plates, and that the twoshould go hand-in-hand.