Newspapers can still compete with new media, says New York Times Company CEO


18 Nov 2014

New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson brings day one of ADMS to a close with his keynote address

Traditional newspapers are here to stay, but they’ll have to change with the times, according to Mark Thompson, President and CEO of the New York Times Company, whose keynote conversation with Abu Dhabi News journalist Martin Newland brought day one of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit to a close today.

Mr. Thompson told the audience of regional and international media industry guests that “traditional newspapers are still popular – the challenge is to make them more cost-effective and able to raise new sources of revenue. There was an assumption that with the emergence of new media, traditional newsprint could only compete by cutting content costs. The fact remains that you can only expect customers to pay if the content is top quality – the key to the New York Times’s success is its strong newsroom.”

“Our aim is to nurture a new generation of journalists who can combine a traditional background with an understanding of digital and new media” he said.

Earlier, guests of the Summit listened to key players in the film industry discuss strategies to enable Arab cinema to rival Hollywood and Bollywood, while a separate panel explored the opportunities in the MENA mobile market.

Panel: From Hollywood to Bollywood, is Arabwood next?

Celebrated Emirati film maker, Ali Mostifa said that more investment was needed to grow the film industry in the Middle East. Mostifa cited the support given to filmmakers in France and Italy as evidence that support for local talent could help grow native film industries.

Discussing the huge market appetite for Arab cinema and growing commercial success of Arab films, the panelists agreed that governments had a role to play. Local interest in new movies could be increased through imaginative promotional campaigns. Mick Flannigan, Head of Abu Dhabi Film Commission added “we need to think more expansively on using other media platforms to promote audience attendance at movies”.

Panel: The Need for Speed in MENA – Mobile Operators Talk Next Gen Systems and Smartphones

With smartphones passing the 110-million mark in 2013, having doubled in a year, and MENA being the second largest mobile market in the world, Chief Digital Services Officer, Khalifa Al Shamsi said “if we create a lot of infrastructure, there will be positive outcomes for the providers and consumers, with the commensurate economic benefits.”

Commenting on the challenges in adapting to a mobile centric environment, Ahmed Naseef, Founder and CEO of Vyu said “we have a lot of challenges, not least the different regulatory regimes over 22 Arab countries. To ensure future success, we need commercial models that work and legal structures that encourage international companies to invest in local talent.”

The Summit continues tomorrow and Thursday with a mix of panels, presentations and interviews. The full programme and list of speakers can be found on the ADMS 2014 website: www.admediasummit.com.

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