Al-Ahram Establishment (the Distribution Department) participated in the 63rd Annual Distripress Congress held in Rome last week, which was organised by the Association for the Promotion of the Global Circulation of the Press.
Al-Ahram was one of the first establishments that contributed to founding this association.
Under the topic of Digital Journalism, this year’s congress was held over four days, with more than 500 delegations from 47 countries attending. They discussed practical ways of increasing newspaper and magazine circulation in the face of huge and threatening technological developments.
Fabrizio Carotti, director of the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers (FIEG), inaugurated the congress by presenting a bird's eye view on the most important Italian newspapers. He stressed the importance of regaining confidence between readers and editors by offering authenticated news in order to boost circulation numbers.
Carotti said there is a revolution in publishing, and that mobile phones contribute immensely to spreading news. He also called attention to the importance of identifying the target audience and points of convergence between the readers, publishers and distributors so as to present suitable services.
Carine Nevejans, the Distripress president, said that the role of the association is not restricted to searching for local governments’ support regarding the future of the publishing industry, but rather shedding light on challenges that “our members face for the sake of freedom in their homelands.”
Tracy Jones, the managing director of Distripress, said that the congress’ significance lies in the presence of several investors who are looking forward to investing in newspaper circulation. She added that this congress facilitates the discussion of sales and distribution as well as new ideas for distributing magazines.
Jones also spoke about the history of Distripress as a non-profit trade association established in 1955 to support and promote the global circulation and distribution of press products (newspapers and magazines) in print and digital formats.
She further explained that their members are publishers, printers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers, plus complementary product and service providers, all engaged in the end-to-end press supply chain.
Jones also said that their global community has over 230 members in more than 60 countries and meets once a year at an annual congress event, and that Distripress is registered as an association in Zurich while their executive headquarters is in London. She stressed that their main objective is increasing the number of the association members as well as circulation rates.
Mohamed Al-Salami, the Tunisian Press Company managing director, said that the third highest circulation rates in Tunisia are that of Egyptian newspapers after Tunisian and German newspapers. He indicated that the period following the Arab revolutions witnessed a sharp decrease in circulation rates due to the economic crisis. He called on newspapers to focus more on publishing analyses and explanations, not on reporting.
Al-Salami added that the future will be that of specialised journalism, especially when it publishes reports that are similar to academic studies, such as issuing a special issue on the Pharaohs or on the Nile. He explained that the prices of these special issues are somewhat high but they have very high circulation rates. He said that the press in European countries is really the fourth estate, while the executive power in the Arab countries is still a little bit more controlling of the press.
Nicolas Meire, the CEO of Ubiway, Belgium, Michael Bergmeijer, Reporters Without Borders board of directors member, and Tyler Brûlé, editor-in-chief of Monocle (a global affairs and lifestyle magazine, 24-hour radio station, website, retailer and media brand) gave lectures at the event.
Jim Bilton, managing director of Wessenden Marketing, said that the Distripress 2018 report mentions that this year will determine the future of the press and that the rate of change in the publishing industry is accelerating while “our industry is swinging within a period of trouble.” He asserted that survival will be of the most intelligent publishers and distributors who are capable of innovation and development.
Regarding the biggest challenges facing distributors in Egypt and the Arab World, Omar Abo-Saleh, Saudi Research and Marketing Group representative, identified the price increase of imported publications, especially the British and French ones, and also the price of shipping those publications. He added that this in turn raises distribution costs.
On the sidelines of the congress, an exhibition was held where publishers and distributors displayed their products while investors presented ways of investment in the field of printing and publishing.