"The good old days, with a news agency journalist using telex linkages, carbon paper, manual typewriter, are gone. Clearly, the traditional menu of words, still pictures, and graphics is no longer enough. We need to go multimedia. Video and audio are essential, and newsroom convergence or integration is essential to package them into useful products for changing markets," Khusaeni stated during the 37th OANA Executive Board Meeting held in Manama, Bahrain, on Monday.
However he noted that to be a multimedia news agency is a long process. He gave the example of Antara, which took almost seven decades to slowly change its format from traditional media to a multimedia platform.
Antara was founded by Indonesian freedom fighters on December 13, 1937, to serve the struggle for the national independence from the Dutch colonizers and the Japanese occupation.
Currently, Antara has bureaus in all the provinces in Indonesia, with nearly 400 correspondents who cover news events from the provincial level down to the districts, subdistricts and villages. The agency also has bureaus in New York, Canberra, London, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and Cairo.
Every day no less than 1000 stories are covered by its own reporters and 3,000 stories are received from its foreign partners, and are distributed to its clients through modern technologies, including the Internet.
"I do not see the Internet as a dagger pointed at news agencies. I believe that we are neither a dying species, nor a dead industry. On the contrary, we are full of optimism about the role of news agencies in the new information age by strategizing that the Internet is an enabler to leverage our role in the media industry," Khusaeni said.
Apart from changing into a multimedia platform, Khusaeni said news agencies can survive by building competitive advantage by strengthening their news credibility.
Another suggestion was for news agencies to tap the retail business, by differentiating news and content to individual customers as well as by entering new media business, either through investments, profit sharing or strategic alliances.
However, he emphasized that news agencies should not enter the retail market by cannibalizing customers business through similar content.
"We must differentiate the product and services to the retail market by using a multi-platform, the new media and multi-brand through the other newsroom. Technology is not a threat; it is enabling our business to create value for our stakeholders. The choice is in our hand, our brain and our mind," he said.
The 37th OANA Executive Board Meeting in Bahrain was led by Deputy General Director of Russias Itar Tass news agency Michael Guzman.