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Monday, May 30, 2005

Dae-Wan Chang:Newspapers will meet their challenges

In an opening speech for WAN this morning, Dae-Whan Chang, Chairman of the Korean Association of Newspapers, laid out a refreshingly pragmatic vision of how newspapers must adapt to survive and flourish. Rather than insist print will triumph forever, Whan told the 1,400 attendees of the WAN/WEF conferences that newspapers are facing their own "Media Big-Bang" and must embrace and meet the challenges of convergence, changing audience behaviors, and shrinking ad revenues.
Whan identified Internet, broadband, wireless, digital TV as very real threats to newspapers' long-term dominance of their markets, but urged newspapers to restructure and adapt.
Whan told the audience that Korean newspapers had to face the very real challenge of online portals publishing numerous news stories and taking audience away from the newspaper sites, and described how the papers worked together to form the Korean Online News Association (KONA), which in turn created a news portal that would help them retain market share.
He outlined his approach to mobile news, explaining his belief that newspapers needed to adapt a hybrid platform--print, web and mobile--to be viable information businesses today. Intriguingly to this Westerner, Whan demonstrated how Korean papers used barcodes --embedded next to a print story--to offer readers the chance to scan the data with a cell phone or other device and received enhanced information (this was amazingly cool).
Emphasizing that the wisest strategy for newspapers is to embrace those mediums that make the best use of relevant technology, Whan explained how Korean papers are exploring--and building--customized news portals for the phone, mobile television news downloads, and mobile personalized news alerts.
Newspapers need to understand they have to COPE--"Create once, product everywhere"--and offer ubiquitious solutions for always-connected audiences (and is he right!).
"We need to move from being news and information providers to creativity facilitators," Whan concluded, stressing that the keys to success were to create a hybrid platform, build for an ubiquitious enviroment, and make content creative.
Susan sez: This speech broke me out of my ex New Yorker cynicism and sent me right to the keyboard--clearly, OhMyNews is not the only organization in Korea that's doing some hard thinking about how the news business needs to evolve. There are lessons to be learned here that the US--and other countries--can benefit from, and progressive thinking that's clearly linked to the highly networked behaviors of Korea's educated classes.

Posted by Susan Mernit on May 30, 2005 at 05:20 AM in t. 2005 Forum in Seoul | Permalink

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