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Tribute to media freedom, insight on AI highlights of INMA’s 2023 World Congress

By Martha Ortiz

Medellin, Colombia


INMA’s 2023 World Congress is far from close to home when we share ideas with our teams. I have lots of notes; these are things I won’t forget.

The most emotional moment

Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp in the United States, stood surrounded by media leaders from around the globe the The Times Center in New York. He paid a tribute to Evan Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal journalist arrested in Russia whose future is not yet known, saying #IStandWithEvan. As a lesson, I keep Thomson’s words from that morning with me: “It is about the freedom of the person and the principle.”

Media leaders stood with Evan Gershkovich, noting his arrest and imprisonment conflicts with the importance of media freedom.
Media leaders stood with Evan Gershkovich, noting his arrest and imprisonment conflicts with the importance of media freedom.

My biggest confirmation: the pivot

Do people understand what we do? As Gert Ysebaert, CEO of Mediahuis Group in Belgium, said: “We are not in content. We are in journalism.”

Monitoring trust in our products is an obligation because it is our most precious value. As The Trust Project confirmed, trust brings engagement, engagement brings loyalty, and loyalty brings revenue.

Every day it is going to be harder for people to separate reality from fiction, even with a global disinformation index. That means the need for trust by society for brands to deliver impeccable journalism is stronger than ever.

The new friends

It’s not only the engineers but also the mathematicians who are on board with overwhelming enthusiasm about media. These are key new — and fun — players.

Jonathan Roberts, chief innovation officer for Dotdash Meredith in the United States, told members of the green study tour, “The cost of doing things that are small is not important. The cost of doing things that are big is existential.” He shared a clear playbook: faster sites, the best content, and no bad ads.

At the end, content drives the value.

Some are catching up, some are not

Newsrooms are still difficult, I know, but we don’t manufacture serial products like chocolates. We create an intellectual product every minute.

Journalists are trained to be critical, but here is a secret: They don’t bite. Don’t be afraid of talking to them. It seems to me they understand more every day, including more about the business.

As for the marketing teams, I don’t see innovation there yet. I think a product approach could be an area to explore in this space.

Still playing

Is there still data? Yes, but it is smart and first. Are there still subscriptions? Yes, but they are tailor-made and personalised.

AI, get ready: We are warriors. We are fluid media.

We know trouble. We were on the frontlines of the Internet revolution. We felt like we were above the fight. We were afraid of the fight. We were overwhelmed with the fight until we stopped, breathed, thought through it, and leveraged it.

The media industry learned many hard lessons. Some colleagues were left behind because they were too redundant to evolve. Today we embrace change, and we know it doesn’t stop. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today. We move faster every day.

We are “fluid media” that should approach AI not as a “minimum viable product” but as a “minimum lovable product,” as someone at the event said.

The feeling

Smart conversations at The Times Center at The New York Times, dancing to Frank Sinatra at The Tavern on the Green in Central Park, and celebrating our industry at The Harvard Club. Well, that is INMA: a place to share ideas and nurture my curiosity. I flew home pleased.

About Martha Ortiz

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