The World Publishing Expo opened in Berlin on Monday with a frank discussion on the future of news media by two industry leaders – Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner and Guardian CEO Andrew Miller – and a demonstration of an industry innovation: a "hack day" to re-imagine and re-think newspaper archives.
"The fundamental question we are all thinking about is: is publishing a sustainable business model?" asked Mr Döpfner during the opening ceremony. "If we define publishing as a print business, then no. If we define it as branded content on all available distribution channels – then perhaps."
Mr Miller said: "The reality is the future is absolutely here now. Readers of our titles are consuming them in many ways. This is not something that will happen in the future. It's happening now. It's about investing ahead of what's happening and following the consumers."
Some 7,000 visitors are expected to visit nearly 300 exhibitors over the three-day World Publishing Expo, the largest global trade exhibition for the news publishing and media industry organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
Mr Döpfner and Mr Miller, whose discussion was moderated by author and media analyst Ken Doctor, were the first of nearly 200 speakers who will be sharing experiences and discussing the future of publishing during the Expo. More on their remarks, and other presentations, can be found on the Expo blog at or on Twitter (#wpe13).
News media are changing so rapidly that the past no longer provides a blueprint to the future, Mr Miller said. "Keep trying innovation. Just try things. Some will work and some won't, but you can't just sit there and do nothing," he said.
That approach was demonstrated during the first MediaHackDay, which drew 74 participants from 10 countries who developed 12 projects that make new and better uses of newspaper content archives.
WAN-IFRA teamed up with Axel Springer, Storyful, CCI Europe and the World Editors Forum for the MediaHackDay, which was designed to "separate news from noise," said Adam Thomas, Director of Business Development for Storyful, a social media newswire.
Winning projects were:
1st Prize (a four-day trip to Silicon Valley): "PhotoStories" (Robert Mielnik, Lukasz Milewski, Mike Skrabacz).
2nd Prize tie: (500 Euros IT gift vouchers for each team member), "Can I quote you on that?" (Kate McCurdy, Florian Winter, Jonas Markussen, Martin Halvorsen) and "Uzine" (Buyan Olcay, Ürük Bülend).
Other partners included Agence-France Presse, Hacks/Hackers, watchmi, the Guardian, Readmill, Create Berlin Tech Open Air Berlin, and POP.
The World Publishing Expo, which, brings together suppliers to the industry with its thought leaders and decision makers, continues through Wednesday.