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Newspapers are thriving in the digital media age

Newspapers are still more popular than television and are evolving in tandem with digital media to meet consumer demands for information and entertainment, News Limited Group Director - Editorial, Campbell Reid has told a CEDA audience in Sydney.

Mr Reid said while many people have claimed newspapers are becoming irrelevant in an age of iPads, mobile devices, social media and blogs, newspaper audiences still well outstripped the best television audiences.

"People love newspapers, this week, 13.5 million people - that's 76 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 - will read at least one printed, edited, hold-in-your-hands newspaper," he said.

"On any Sunday we have 4.7 million readers read our Sunday papers, that's at least 1 million more than the biggest TV event.

Our worst Sunday newspaper captures an audience far in excess of television's best day. People forget that."

While the printed newspaper will remain, it will work together with digital content, evolving to meet consumers' changing needs as they used different devices to access content during the day and night, he said.

This means producing local, chatty news between 6am and 9am as people use mobile devices on the way to work; travel and real estate stories to read on the desk top computer at work at lunchtime, current affairs for the evening commute and television focussed social comment for the evening.

Digital newspapers are no longer a copy of the printed paper but are evolving into a "native form of digital journalism", providing an opportunity to interact or delve into another dimension with audio visual material, he said.

Newspaper advertising was also developing "native advertising" where a co-sponsor would co-create  high quality content about trends that would indirectly promote demand for products.

"You will see ads coming alive and evolving during the day, just as our news is coming alive and evolving," he said.

Although news stories such as the Boston bombing might break on Facebook or Twitter, consumers come back to newspapers for the "semi-official package" of information and analysis, he said.

"I don't think we should give up on news because news is not ubiquitous… it doesn't just happen by chance, what happens by chance is the commentary and discussion afterwards," he said.

"The challenge we face is that we need you to pay for high quality content…. the world of free stuff is just extraordinary…(but) we need to move the value of our content away from the value of the free content."

"In 90 per cent of the news conversations that most of us talk about - in most major cities - those conversations are triggered by mainstream media," he said.

"We start the story. It's a mistake to think that the free conversation is as valuable as the stories that triggered it in the first place."