The editor of LaPresse talks mostly about the video area: "On this we are unbeatable for the next 25 years, having digitized the world's story from a video perspective, constantly using backpacks, makes everything easier."
Marco Maria Durante, president of LaPresse, was interviewed by RaiNews about the future of news agencies. Hypothesizing about what will be of agencies in 10 years “is easier than teaching a child to walk: globalization has created a clear break between agencies that specialize only in text and those that instead over the years have built globally distributed photo-video texts and mighty archives,” Durante says in the interview. “There is no question that in less than 5 years those who do not have a worldwide structure of photo and video texts with capillary distribution will be destined to close down or sell out,” he explains, adding some details on the importance of photo and video.
“As always, we Italians are behind, apart from Ansa, which has always had a photo part but outsources video with minimal coverage at the national level; the others nothing. And that is a pity because having competitors up to the mark enriches the market. Unfortunately, to get to average levels and build a competitive area, it takes investment and many years. We talk about Italy without thinking that we are not thinking globally.”
In this regard, Durante says, “We, for example, have more than 60 million digitized photos since 1911 and videos starting in 1895, all digitized: difficult to compete with such a large structure. The microphones you see around from the various agencies are just marketing to be filmed.” And this is, according to him, the future: “Those who have only text and do not preside over foreign countries and continents with Italian journalists are doomed to closure. Even for those who do not have as we do widespread worldwide distribution in real time. For the others, it will count how much economic resources they will make and especially with what speed and whether only for Italy or for the whole world.”
Still on the subject of video Durante says, “Broadcasters or newspapers are hungry for real-time video of world events, beyond clearly those Italian ones with backpacks, and we seem to me that in Italy we exceed 35. In Italy we have Rai, Mediaset, La7, Sky and the new giant Discovery to which we also do the news, while an internal structure divided by areas creates the clips of all the raw material that arrives from the world and Italy. This part is very important because few people know that the advertising that precedes videos on the Internet, called pre-roll, is the highest paid ever.”
But LaPresse also means radio: “We have a hundred radio stations to which we do the radio news or 4 or 6 or 8 times a day with the weather, and always this department is in charge of the Italian sites LaPresse.it and Olycom.it just started. But we have a peculiarity: in each country where we go, we open a site made by the place with journalists, and so we have Lapresse.us; the one from Spain is starting and the one from Hong Kong. All this is controlled by the supervision of director Alessia Lautone and co-director Nicola Assetta.”
“We are at least eight years ahead of the others,” says Durante, “we have a great text with exclusives and many quotes from the various newspapers, also because we have hired several journalists who today are close to one hundred, but above all I have taken a director who is a war machine in perfect harmony with the editor, with the same goals. Then, unlike everyone else, we have the photographic part that occupies a whole building with archivists: they are constantly researching and digitizing photos and videos, we have more than 60 million digitized photos, over the years I have bought so many archives and when I can I add one. I still remember when, towards the end of 1999, I gave photographers digital cameras, the first ones that were heavy and could do video as well: they would come back to the company and tell me they were laughed at by their colleagues, they made fun of them, but we used to send a batch of 100 photos to the newspapers and the others 10, it was a big difference.”
To the reporter who ventures to call him a ‘soothsayer,’ he replies, “Most give me credit for coming a second ahead of others, the envious say instead that I was just lucky. Either way, that’s fine with me. But to young people I say: study, because nothing is given away.”
Then, he returns to the topic of video: “On this we are unbeatable for the next 25 years, having digitized the history of the world from the video point of view, constantly using backpacks, makes everything easier: receiving world news in real time, we are in the present but with one foot to the future. I’ll give you an example: with these backpacks we did a late-night program on Sky about the royals in 4 episodes for two years, on September 20 in prime time on Rai 1 the documentation wanted by director Zappi “Sofia” will be released.
Clearly everything that people have not seen is kept in the various Italian and foreign catalogues of AP, in September for the anniversary of a great man who left a great void, lawyer Agnelli, we will go on Rai 1 in prime time.”
The relationship with AP
“I had and have the good fortune to have a friendship with the president of our turnaround Gary Pruitt, who as of Jan. 1, 2022, passed the hand to the current president Daisy Veerasingham, I love her and I always tell her: she is a unique woman, a determined woman who sets goals and brings them home, we get along well together, we are equal in approach. At the end of May I was in New York, where we are headquartered on Liberty street, we had dinner one night and talked about expansion. Forty-eight hours later LaPresse was entering the Spanish market at the forefront, and we were integrating into the different areas to give better service to clients,” Durante explains. “LaPresse sent journalists hired in Italy around the world and sent them to the various countries as correspondents, if we need video and photo coverage and distribution even satellite we use AP, we upgrade, we comply and clients are happy to appear around the world.”
How would you define LaPresse today? “The rankings you find around, given by newspapers and TV all over the world, say it: ‘World’s first multimedia agency.'” And where will it go from there? “Well, I would say we have already arrived, we have been fast and concrete, we must continue on this path without distracting ourselves with the continuous confrontation and with the trust and esteem that has brought us so far.”
“First of all, I would like to clarify a basic concept: the whole world works in August, only we Italians close as if this month did not exist,” Durante says again. “The era when Fiat closed and everyone went to the beach is over. Last year, on August 16, I met in Washinton with the Italian ambassador to the United States, Dr. Zappia. Abroad we are mocked for this now prehistoric conception of ours, the whole world spreads its vacations over 12 months.”
Then he also talks about his family: “So much, they are the thing I care about most: my wife with her two children and the oldest, Vittoria, who after graduating in America, with a thousand possibilities of accepting contracts on the spot, decided to work for a big company in London of the Mediaset group.”
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