News Corp Australia has followed the lead of US television networks in conducting major upfronts in Sydney and Melbourne in front of 800 business leaders and industry representatives to sell the power of print and the strength of its role in the world of multi-platform delivery.
In Sydney, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson gave an impassioned presentation to around 500 invited guests at The Star casino.
Mr Thomson said print would play “an absolutely crucial role in a multi-platform future” alongside News’ digital assets that have a subscription base of more than 200,000 in Australia.
“There is a contemporary perception that newspapers are fading in their influence, that minutes spent on the web exceed minutes spent with print, which may well be true, but certainly does not tell the full truth,” he said.
“That is because we have allowed ourselves to forget a core principle of human engagement, and that principle is the importance of affinity. If 27 minutes are spent on the web, then those minutes are likely to be digitally discursive.
“Rich news sites aside, those minutes are likely to have been extremely promiscuous, with 15 windows open and little loyalty to any particular platform amid what we might call hyperlink hyperactivity. Compare that . . . with the concentration demanded by print. There is only one window open and the multi-tasking extends to drinking a cup of coffee or green tea while reading.”
“Print is the medium that sets the national agenda every day of the year,” Mr Clarke said. “Print is the medium that creates deep connections and engagement with its readers, personal relationships and draws tremendous brand loyalty.”
In Melbourne, News Corp non-executive co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch took the podium. Mr Murdoch explained to 300 guests at the Peninsula, Docklands, that the listing of 21st Century Fox as a separate company enabled News Corp to focus at its very core on the craft of journalism.
“News was born out of the now defunct Adelaide News, a spirited underdog of a newspaper full of vigour and energy,” he said. “We battled for every reader, and it formed an ethos that continues to define us.
“Since that start, the company has been driven by a relentless desire to inform and inspire, to challenge the status quo, to find new ways of doing things and, more often than not, to confound the critics.
“The point is that printed papers will for many years to come be a foundation for this company. But more and more we are increasing our already leading position in digital publishing across multiple platforms. And while it is a position our competitors envy, frankly we are just at the beginning of our journey.”
The reach of News print products was emphasised during the presentations. The company sells and distributes 15 million newspapers in Australia every week, reaching almost five million readers on a Sunday – more than twice the viewers of top rating programs, including the AFL grand final. Across all platforms, the company reaches 86 per cent of the Australian population over the age of 14.
Mr Thomson said News had the capacity to share with its advertisers and readers “the most creative contemporary developments at our papers and websites around the world”.
“If something works on mobile or tablet, if something sells, we will redeploy that technique or template immediately, from Melbourne to Manchester and Adelaide to Albuquerque,” he said.
“We will exercise our customary creativity in developing new formats that work for readers and for advertisers – and that these solutions will scale, beyond our borders and beyond a single platform.”
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