Virtual keynote excerpt: Opening keynote at INMA Virtual World Congress

Below is a brief excerpt of Ross Dawson’s opening keynote at International News Media Association’s Virtual World Congress on Reinvention for a Post-Pandemic Future. He shared insights into the emerging shape of business, society, and the news industry post-pandemic, and inspiring perspectives on the opportunities for the news industry to reinvent itself and prosper in rapidly changing times.

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Full Transcript

Thank you, Earl.

It is safe to say that we live in interesting times. And of course that means extraordinary challenges as we deal with the amazing scope of change today. Yet, as long as the universe is changing, there will be opportunities and there’ll be extraordinary opportunities, undoubtedly, for those individuals and organizations that reinvent themselves to be relevant in a world which is changing and creating a different landscape than ever before.

Now, if we look to the future of the news industry, certainly we need to understand the external trends that are shaping it, but even more, we need to be looking to ourselves as individuals, as organizations, as an industry, because we have the ability and we must shape a positive future of news because quality news is in the future of a better world for everyone.

So this morning I want to look, firstly, at some of the shifts which are changing the landscape of what we are seeing, go on to look at the fundamental industries at the heart of that new world and which give so much prosperity to the news industry, go on to look at society and how that is shifting and the new challenges and opportunities that are emerging from that. Look at the news industry, the fundamentals of the shape and the structure and the opportunities from that today. And from that, the ways in which leaders can reinvent their organizations to take advantage of the shift that we are seeing. And finally, the leadership is required in order to be able to seize those opportunities.

So if we begin by looking at the shifts, the ways in which the changing landscape is becoming clear in a pandemic and beyond the pandemic, there are two fundamental things happening. One is that there are existing trends which have already been in place which are now accelerating to an extraordinary degree.

The ways in which we have more remote work, we’re moving away from cash, we have increased polarization in society. We’re seeing all of these trends are starting to accelerate and move even faster than ever before.

Yet at the same time, there are all these new impacts that are changing new ways of thinking and also creating ripples beyond them, in some cases, even reversing those existing trends. So we need to understand what it is that it’s accelerating and what are some of these new shifts that are emerging.

One of the things that is accelerating of course, is that of remote work and virtual everything where we are working from home with all of its challenges, of dealing with children and homeschooling.

We have contactless commerce. We are starting to do everything remotely, that was always happening before, but is now happening to an extraordinary degree. And as we come back, as offices do open up, we don’t necessarily all need to go straight back to the office because we’ve seen that, in fact, it’s nice sometimes not to have to get in a car. We can do valuable work from home. But at the same time, we will say, “Well, I don’t necessarily want to commute all the way the office, it doesn’t necessary. I do want to get out of the home.” So we’ll have a rise of the third space. What have been called coworking spaces, which will be more and more local places to get out of the home, not necessarily be in the office, but get access to resources and coffee of the recent standard, and the people and resources to be able to help us do our work.

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