Mark Hollands’ opening remarks for the Future Forum

Mark Hollands’ opening remarks for the Future Forum

NewsMediaWorks chief executive Mark Hollands gives his take on the industry in this speech written to open the 2016 Future Forum conference.

I’d like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of our land, and specifically the Gadigal of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of this place we now call Sydney.

May I also extend to you – on behalf of the Board of NewsMediaWorks – the warmest welcome to our 47th industry conference.

It is wonderful to see so many colleagues and friends here today … to network, and learn from each other – and, in doing, so celebrate the industry in which we are all privileged to work, and within which we all make a valued contribution to society.

We have a record number registered for this event and who will attend – hopefully despite the rain – during the course of the day; as well as 425 who are coming to Newspaper of the Year awards dinner, tonight.

Last night, we celebrated the outstanding work of our colleagues in the fields of sales and marketing, where some 300-plus turned out at the Art Gallery of NSW.

For our industry, this is a time for recognition of great work, and celebration.

This is also a time for learning – and finding from others, and within ourselves, the inspiration that will make our professional lives enjoyable, successful and fulfilling.

Ultimately, I believe, we are each responsible for our willingness to keep up with the electric pace of change that our industry is adapting to, and must thrive upon.

Change is everywhere, not just in media. I could rattle off industry sector examples, but you’d have heard it all before.

I find it hard to believe that I stood on this stage two years ago – and it was raining then, too – and introduced Malcolm Turnbull, then the Australian Minister for Communications in a government of comfortable majority, and who is now a Prime Minister but with a single seat margin.

Change can cut both way.

But it must be met with zeal – a spirit that is not only fired by challenges that are forced upon us, but a determination to embrace them and create our own momentum and renewed purpose.

Today, we are adapting to the

  • impact of consumer, and mobile technologies
  • the competitive pressure of social and search on our revenues
  • A myriad of content competitors
  • And the essential task of creating a balanced portfolio of media assets whose revenues reflect not only your own company’s strategic intent but also the needs of the market

Much is in our favour

  • the power of quality journalism
  • The trust of news brands – greater than any other media
  • creation of valuable, big-scale audiences, and
  • the ability to connect commercial partners with those audiences across technologies

How this is done, or can be done, has many flavours – and we get a taste of these from our speakers today.

Publishers do not always see the world in the same way.

They have differences in their markets, in audience behaviour, and their own philosophical and cultural willingness to change at a speed that might either be forced upon them, or is of their own choosing.

The manifestation of this in our own markets is more than profound, it is historic.

In New Zealand, NZME and Fairfax have well-flagged plans to merge, creating a single major publisher in that country.

In Australia, News Corp Australia intends to buy APN’s news division, Australian Regional Media, some 70+ newspapers. APN boasts that it has now moved out of “traditional” media. Apparently radio and outdoor aren’t traditional.

Fairfax – an icon, a standard bearer for so many in our industry – has said on numerous occasions, and for a long time now, that it will – at some stage – shut the Monday to Friday newspapers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Heart-breaking to many, while to others, it is a strategy to secure a future as a modern media company delivering quality journalism on digital platforms.

Who is to say what is right and what is wrong, yet no one can accuse the industry of standing still . . . even if a few Romantics, including myself, might lament our society’s relationship with media, and the seeming disregard for the value of journalism to the fundamental mechanisms of our society.

We should never lose sight that we hold to account those who hold positions of trust and power. That, however, is not a commercial proposition and therefore we must – and we do – respond to innovations such as programmatic trading and data-targeting of specific consumer groups.

The gloss of this appears to be wearing off as we hear marketing leaders talk of over-selling the demise of traditional media and the power of positive wastage – the serendipity of a reader seeing ads and articles normally out of the sphere of interest.

We have a great story to tell.

  • 76% of the adult population in Australia reads a newspaper.
  • 73% consume our journalism on a device.
  • In Australia, population 25 million, more than one-quarter of adults read a newspaper at least three times a week.
  • Our audiences are wealthier than the average citizen, earning almost $16,000 a year more.
  • Nielsen says that both globally and locally, we are the most trusted to deliver truthful advertising messages.

Not only do we deliver great journalism, in the cities, suburbs, and regions . . . but through our innovation and investment, we continue to connect readers with advertisers across technology platforms.

Yet we must be mindful that what we might say about ourselves has nowhere near the impact of what our readers and advertisers say about us.

It is in those relationships that our future will be determined . . . and we must give them great stories to tell.

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