Dears MINDS delegates, welcome to Sydney. Or as we say down here, g’day!
AAP is delighted that you have chosen to make the long trip to Australia, many for the first time. We trust that you enjoy your visit and see as much of the wonderful city of Sydney as you can, and possibly other parts of our wide brown land.
Of course, enjoying our spectacular harbour and luxuriating in our mild climate is one thing: the primary purpose to be in the southern hemisphere is to take part in the 28th MINDS International conference.
And through creative and careful planning by the MINDS board and AAP, we have a rich and stimulating agenda over the next three days.
We say it at every MINDS meeting: news agencies continue to face the twin scourge of challenge and change as our media partners struggle to find sustainable business models.
We have endured pressure on our fees and subscription rates, in a world where everybody wants more for less. We have become frustrated with publishers and editors who waste their own resources while seemingly ignoring the significant benefits and opportunities offered by agency content. We have explored, with mixed success, new sources of revenue from outside our traditional client base in order to offset reduced newswire subscription income.
We keep trying, demonstrating that agency spirit and determination that so often sets us apart from our mainstream media customers, owners and shareholders.
But as we approach a new decade, I believe there is yet another threat on the horizon. Ironically, it is a threat that is emerging from a thread of success being found by our major publishing customers.
As news outlets gain a greater percentage of their income to a reader revenue model - paid subscriptions behind hard paywalls, metered models, and even subscriber donations - the value of every piece of content is being scrutinised in fine detail.
Stories are being valued in terms of their ability to generate reader subscriptions. That means the value of stories that do not lead to revenue is being increasingly questioned. Of course, agency content is often ubiquitous in nature, falling into the dreaded “commodity news” category. It is under greater pressure than ever to “prove” its value.
So we must continue to fight the good fight to ensure the conversation around breaking and general news is positive. Society as a whole needs to know what it doesn’t know, not just what people click on or what they are fed in Facebook according to previous behaviour, or bias or preference.
Agencies are and should continue to be the providers of coverage about events, announcements, and matters that affect the lives of ordinary people to ensure the democratic process is well served.
Our discussions this week will help galvanise our position and role within the media ecosystem, and assist us in diversifying to ensure we can carry our our primary purpose.
AAP and the MINDS Board trusts that the Sydney conference will be as helpful, informative and illuminating as successful meetings we have held over the past 10 years.
As well as speakers and sessions from within the media industry, this conference also includes some thought leadership from outside.
In particular, futurist Michael McQueen will stimulate us to think differently in order to gain some perspective on what the world may look like in the years to come, equipping us more understanding on how to be prepared for, and then respond to, seismic change.
Music executive Dan Rosen will outline how his industry rose from the ashes of near destruction through piracy fomented by the internet, to reinvent an entire business model to both protect the copyright and intellectual property of musicians and actually fuel revenue growth.
And Justin Papps, the Australian lead of PwC’s annual media outlook - fast becoming the respected collation of global trends in media - will provide valuable insights that will help guide our decisions for future investment and diversification.
And in the meantime, lap up the Sydney sunshine and enjoy the hospitality and friendship that AAP is so delighted to share.
In Australia, the wire is Australian Associated Press. It was first established for the country’s metropolitan newspapers to share the high expense of bringing international news into the country. That was 1935. Now around the clock, every day, AAP dispatches hundreds of thousands of words to the media. AAP is a vibrant multimedia business moving its domestic and international news, sport, finance and features stories, images and video to all media in the country and wherever content can be shown. Its support enterprises include press release distribution, business intelligence and analysis, and editorial production. It is one of the few news agencies world wide that is independent and commercially operated.
The Australian Associated Press news team has a proud tradition of quality and work ethic. Its reporters, photographers and editors are widely revered as some of the best in the business. Reporters are often the first in at press events and often the last to leave, filing stories for all to share. Their work forms the foundation of news around the country. AAP employs almost 200 reporters and editors and a network of over 100 photographers.