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News boss says print has future

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AAP

2012-11-28

News Ltd chief executive Kim Williams has rejected dire predictions for the print media industry, saying it has plenty of life yet.

The digital technology being blamed for the decline in newspapers was actually massively increasing the demand for words and images that make sense of the world, said the head of Australia's largest newspaper publisher.

"My advice to an aspiring journalist would be 'Have a go, because there's plenty of energetic life in the media industry yet'," Mr Williams told a Melbourne Press Club lunch.

"In fact, I would say there's much more cause for hope than for pessimism."

Printed newspapers would not die in the near future, he said.

News Ltd's sales of 11 million papers a week showed people still valued them as a single product - unlike the online version.

When asked if rival newspaper The Age, owned by troubled Fairfax, would survive, Mr Williams said competition between The Age and News' papers would be a good thing for consumers.

Fairfax has been hit harder by declining newspaper circulation and earnings than the larger News Ltd, although both companies have cut hundreds of journalist jobs in 2012.

Mr Williams said the advertising market was still tough.

But rather than being a threat, computer and tablet devices such as iPads had created new distribution networks for media companies to increase customers, he said.

The smartest young journalists and most adaptable veteran journalists were inventing the future of journalism, appearing on TV, blogging and in writing for newspapers.

Mr Williams also said charging for online journalism would benefit consumers and media companies, as it would result in a better product.

"It is hardly controversial that consumers should pay for things they value and want," he said.

Mr Williams repeated his criticism of the federal government's proposals for greater media regulation, including a news media council, saying it threatened free speech and the viability of the media industry.

Greg Roberts