How e-commerce giants are reinventing news

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It's the companies and people they work for that make Shailesh Prakash and Gary Liu interesting.

Washington Post chief information officer and vice president for digital product development Prakash works for the Jeff Bezos, the man who built Amazon, while SCMP chief executive Gary Liu's boss is Alibaba owner Jack Ma.

WAN-Ifra gets the two in the same room in November as part of its Digital Media Asia programme, and isn't shy of asking, "are Alibaba and Amazon reinventing the news".

Amazon chief Bezos bought the Post for $250 million in 2013, and has turned around prospects for the 140-year-old newspaper. Readership has exploded, its content has become more digital-friendly, and WaPo is now looked upon as one of the most innovative news media companies in the world, with Prakash one of the key architects of this transformation.

He has also been behind the use of Big Data to develop the personalisation features and automation tools used to boost digital subscriptions, and an inhouse-developed CMS which has made the newsroom more agile and efficient.

The South China Morning Post is another venerable news media institution, bought by Amazon's stronger competitor Alibaba Group in another surprise move two years after Bezos's Washington acquisition.

What does Ma want with the 113-year-old "grey lady" of Hong Kong, and what is Liu - who was previously chief executive of news aggregator Digg - bringing to it? Organisers of Digital Media Asia (Singapore, October 31-November 2) promise answers to these and more questions.

SCMP is currently undergoing transformation which has included taking down the publication's paywall, and Liu is expected to share his company's vision for the future of news and what they are doing to get there.

A California native who lived in New York for nearly two decades, having grown up in Taiwan and New Zealand, Liu has a degree in economics from Harvard, and a reputation for innovation during his term with Digg.

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