The Times in everyone’s home, pocket, tablet...
Managing director Adrian Hillman’s vision for Malta’s leading media organisation
The Times is entering 2013 with a promise to be in everybody’s home, pocket, and tablet devices with the latest news, according to the newly appointed managing director of the group that publishes the newspaper, Allied.
Adrian Hillman recognises that he is taking over an institution that has sound roots built over more than 75 years, but his vision is to build on this legacy and reinforce its main asset – the company’s credibility.
“We are what we are today, because we’re a credible and trusted organisation... this I believe is where our strength lies,” he said.
Mr Hillman, 48, joined the company over 10 years ago, and previously held the position of managing director of the group’s printing press, Progress Press.
He takes over as group managing director from Vincent Buhagiar, who held the position since 2003 and is retiring at the age of 65.
The company has been quick to embrace the change posed by the changing media landscape, yet at the same time it remained careful to retain its identity.
As an institution that has been at the forefront of newspapers, it has also become a force to be reckoned with through its website timesofmalta.com, which has: over 4.8 million readers’ visits each month; over 25 million page views each month; over 58 per cent of its readers visit the online news portal at least twice a day; and it attracts over 40,000 readers’ comments each month.
In charting out the company’s vision, Mr Hillman stressed that while change was crucial to survive, the company was not looking to change for change’s sake.
On the contrary, it would build on what was already strong to face the future.
What future does the newspaper have in this changing environment?
“The strength is that we remain exceptionally strong when it comes to our newspaper, yet at the same time our digital presence is robust – we are by far the strongest in both elements,” he said.
The key was to offer readers and advertisers the opportunity to target their audiences depending on the message they wanted to disseminate.
“So any message that is imparted from us as information organisation needs to be quick, concise and sharp and that’s how we’re going to develop... we’re building a presence in mobile, tablet devices, smartphones... where we believe a good part of the future lies,” he said.
To achieve these goals the company has introduced tangible changes to equip its editorial team with the right tools.
It has invested in its journalists by enrolling them in an in-house diploma, which is based on the UK Press Association’s award-winning scheme and provides senior journalists with the skills needed to consolidate a successful career.
Photographers and videographers have also been rehoning their skills and learning from each other to shoot both photos and videos.
– the number of timesofmalta.com page views each month
Apart from this, the company also recently fused its three media – The Times, The Sunday Times and timesofmalta.com – into one structure headed by editor-in-chief Steve Mallia.
“Our team is thinking on its feet and seeing opportunities that work in audiovisual but not in print, and they’re taking the initiative – that takes talent. We have a team that realises you can’t be a monolithic organisation in 2013 and that’s encouraging,” he said.
One of the key changes in 2013 will be the capacity to identify individual markets which have not been tapped in the past, Mr Hillman added.
So why should readers choose The Times?
“I think if you were to ask what our unique selling point is, it has to be the credibility of what we say, what we stand for,” he said.
Mr Hillman said the company’s journalists took everything they wrote seriously and there was abhorrence towards inference or any elbowing away from what they believed was correct and should be written.
“We call it as we see it,” he said. “Our newspaper and online executives are independent, and nobody at any level interferes with the editor-in-chief’s editorial decisions.
“This is a strength, which is extremely valuable in an environment where the media is now heavily diluted and where there is a diaspora of information being diffused, making it difficult for people to decide whether the information they’re receiving is real, false or... shall we say different shades of grey!”