Gavin O'Reilly: 'Sweden shows continuing strength of print'

Sweden’s experience provides strong evidence for the continuing strength of the printed word, according to Gavin O’Reilly who has opened the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Gothenberg.

The chief operating officer of Independent News and Media said: “There is also a lesson to be learned here in Sweden in the continuing strength of the print newspaper, to which – as most of you probably know by now – I am very attached, not by blind faith or principle, but simply because this medium continues to prove popular and effective and, not least, profitable, despite all the nonsense purveyed about its imminent demise, particularly but not only, in cyberspace.

“In all league tables measuring the internet – whether in terms of audience, advertising market share, broadband penetration – Sweden ranks among the leaders.

“And yet, consider this: each and every day, in the midst of this highly wired and digitally-educated environment, about 90per cent of the adult population reads a newspaper in print, in 83 per cent of cases paid-for.

“They don’t have to, it’s not a legal obligation, they choose to, despite the existence of so many alternative channels for getting information and entertainment.

“I would urge you never to lose sight of this as, over the next few days, we examine and discuss – as indeed we should and must do – our considerable and often exciting efforts and strategies to exploit the new opportunities to extend our audience and create new revenues provided by our digital initiatives.

“It is a question of measure and perspective. If we don’t keep our heads and keep uppermost in our minds the realities and hard facts about the enduring force and impact of our core, print businesses, who will do it for us?

“Not those with the loudest voice or the most provocative viewpoint who, unfortunately, are those who tend to shape perceptions about our industry.”

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