French international news agency, Agence France Presse Chairman & Chief Executive, Emmanuel Hoog (3rd from R) takes part in the fourth edition of The World Congress Of News Agencies on November 19, 2013 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh
French international news agency, Agence France Presse Chairman & Chief Executive, Emmanuel Hoog (3rd from R) takes part in the fourth edition of The World Congress Of News Agencies on November 19, 2013 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh © Fayez Nureldine - AFP
French international news agency, Agence France Presse Chairman & Chief Executive, Emmanuel Hoog (3rd from R) takes part in the fourth edition of The World Congress Of News Agencies on November 19, 2013 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh
AFP
Last updated: November 20, 2013

Global news chiefs in Saudi discuss changing industry

The heads of global news agencies, including Agence France-Presse, gathered in Riyadh Tuesday to discuss how to navigate a changing media landscape marked by falling subscriptions and intense online competition.

The fourth edition of The World Congress of News Agencies was held in the Saudi capital under the theme: "Reinventing the news agency in the 21st century."

Previous meetings took place in Russia in 2004, Spain in 2007 and Argentina in 2010.

Speakers emphasised how the proliferation of online news and mobile services has transformed a business once dominated by newspapers tied to evening deadlines.

As the competition has increased, the global economic crisis has caused subscription rates to plummet, with cash-strapped users having instead turned to social networks, online news aggregators and free news websites.

AFP CEO Emmanuel Hoog participated in the meeting, which continues until Thursday, and was joined by CEO Gary Pruitt of the Associated Press and Reuters global managing director Steven Schwartz.

Hoog insisted he was "optimistic" despite the crisis, and emphasised the importance of knitting together text, photo and video into a seamless and web-friendly platform.

Abdullah al-Hussein, head of the official Saudi Press Agency SPA, said he hoped the conference would be a "milestone in cooperation between news agencies in the field of exchange of experience and expertise."

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