Kirk: Papers’ community role ensures future

PANPA editorial co-ordinator BRETT TAYLOR files from the Victorian Country Press Association conference that began this morning.

NEWSPAPERS’ tradition and heritage in providing important information to their communities would ensure their success for the forseeable future, Fairfax Media chief executive David Kirk told the  Victorian Country Press Association this morning.

“Our papers will succeed because they are part and parcel of their communities and their readers’ lives,” he told delegates at the association’s 98th annual conference.

“The defining difference of a great newspaper is its commitment to the community it serves,” he said.

Mr Kirk shared Fairfax’s three-pronged strategy of defending and growing print, building online and developing the entire business into a converged digital media company.

His message to regional publishers was to focus on community and hyper-local content. He suggested country papers were “lacking” in convergence strategies and said that they should capitalise on their “good position” to make progress in that area, particular as broadband access had improved in rural areas.

He said Fairfax was not interested in running a social network site because they were “difficult to monetise”. News Corporation – which owns Fairfax’s biggest competitor, News Ltd – purchased social network MySpace for $US580m in 2005.

Around 100 member representatives gathered today at Shepparton, Victoria – home of the McPherson Media-owned Shepparton News – for the VCPA’s yearly summit.

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