The conference of the international association of multimedia news agencies MINDS International was held on March 15 and 16, 2012 in Moscow with the support of the Russian media holding RIA Novosti.
During this event a delegation of MINDS International visited the Kommersant Publishing House. Top managers and executives of the Australian AAP, Polish PAP, Portuguese Lusa, RIA Novosti, French AFP and Japanese KYODO, to name a few, discussed the prospects for cooperation between newspapers and news agencies at a round table with Kommersant editor-in-chief Aizer Mursaliyev. At the meeting Minds International Managing Director Wolfgang Nedomansky said that the association members almost unanimously decided to visit Kommersant in order to understand the extent to which an independent publishing house depends on the content of news agencies. «Agencies as reliable organizations that confirm an event are important for us,» Aizer Mursaliyev said. «It is possible to learn about an event from Twitter and confirm this fact with news agencies. Primary information sill originates in news agencies, whereas newspapers have a different mission. A newspaper is more of an expert institution than a source of information, although we certainly try to give our audience exclusive information,» he said, adding that newspapers often use the information base of news agencies for analyzing and preparing materials.
Representatives of Kommersant and guests also discussed the problem of training and recruiting personnel. They agreed that an ideal journalist today is a Jack-of-all-trades who can write, speak and take pictures. «If we train such a journalist, he will be immediately invited to head a different publishing house,» Mursaliyev said. «Business agencies willingly employ our former students, even those who have only completed initial training,» he noted. Mursaliyev said that at the first stage correspondents transmitted information from specialists to customers. There emerged an entire institute for rewriting news, which made it possible to make a big leap forward in the very beginning. However, later on, such news began to be perceived as impersonal and boring, and this pattern stopped working. «Regrettably, for the time being we have not found a model for the rapid training of a universal journalist,» Musaliyev said, and asked his colleagues whether they have made progress in this respect.
Paulo Nogueira from Lusa said that in covering major events they use a group of experts on different issues, and that other news agencies have since borrowed this model as the most effective.
After the meeting Clive Marshall, CEO of Press Association, expressed his view on further cooperation between different media. He said news agencies no longer sell news – they supply their customers with a whole range of services apart from the «readable» content. Marshall believes that this diversity of products allows news agencies to meet the needs of their customers and reduce expenses. In the meantime, news agencies can derive profit from the sharp growth of demand for real-time, digital news.
Founded in 1868, Press Association evolved from a news agency for newspapers into a supplier of text information, photos, videos, graphics, data and production services for numerous consumers and various media platforms. Marshall sees its future in making content for customers as useful as possible with the help of all modern technology and social media.
Marshall also expressed his view on how the press and news agencies should cooperate with social networks: «The main advantage of these networks is their enormous audience. We in MINDS witnessed how fast they can attract readers to their products.» Marshall said they published a joint page on Facebook under the title «The Climate Pool» during the UN climate summit and received more than 10,000 readers in just two weeks. Marshall thinks the main challenge is to coordinate goals and create a suitable business model that will pay off.
All participants in the conference hope that the conference in Moscow will help them find new approaches to working with different media and understand how to avoid unethical conduct in conditions of tough competition in the field of news and information.