Inside the EHF

Print media meet in Cologne for first roundtable

Björn Pazen / jjr

Print media meet in Cologne for first roundtable

For the first time, the EHF organised a media roundtable for Europe’s leading handball magazines and newspapers on the fringes of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. Eight participants from five countries – including members of the AIPS Handball Commission – grabbed the opportunity to discuss the future of their media and of handball coverage with EHF President Michael Wiederer and JJ Rowland, head of the EHF Media and Communications department.

“The special edition of the 30th anniversary of the Swiss magazine Handballworld was the reason for us to organise this meeting,” said Wiederer. “At the EHF we of course focus on the daily coverage of competitions, but to have this background information delivered by magazines brings colour to the media world. People love to read those analyses,” the EHF President added – and offered the support of the European Handball Federation.

"Rapid changes in the media world"

“We are in a time of rapid changes in the media world. The media coverage and reception completely changed in the last years, thanks to digital media. The media work of the EHF changed rapidly too. We are now a TV station, a media house, a publisher house and look more and more to engage with fans rather than just on corporate communications,” JJ Rowland pointed out.

With the development of social media and the EHF’s own OTT platform,, the EHF has focused on the production of more content for its channels to increase the coverage of the sport. It has also developed a network of journalists across Europe. “Our aim is to inform and entertain our existing fans but also reach new groups of fans,” explained Rowland.

The different participants of the roundtable – mostly chief editors or managing directors of magazines in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands – presented their own publications and the challenges facing the print media in an increasingly digital age.

“Of course it is all about monetising our content,” said Bastian Dörenkämpfer, director of the Dutch magazine Handbalinside, which mostly focusses on the successful Dutch women’s national team. “We have more than 25,000 Facebook followers, but are still working on building the number of subscribers.”

Common agreement that print is not dead

Print magazines face not only challenges from online publications but also how best to embrace social media. However, there was common agreement that print is not dead. “There is still a place for printed magazines, to provide a history of previous events for example or to present partners and sponsors and of course people still like the physicality of a printed publication, said Hubert Gueriau, editor-in-chief of HandMag, the official magazine of the French Handball Federation.

“Although our main product is the printed magazines, we of course offer many other channels for our subscribers. We have social media activities, newsletters and we also organise events and handball travel to certain matches,” said Daniel Zobrist, director of Handballworld in Switzerland.

“We are present in the main arenas with our booth and go where the fans are,” Olaf Bruchmann, editor in chief of German magazine Handballwoche, told the meeting. Zita Newerla, editor-in-chief of Handball Inside published in Germany, also described how the magazine – which is published every two months – aims to publish exclusive stories and promote these through social media channels ahead of publication.

All present agreed that a cooperation between federations and media partners to share content is key to reaching more people in each individual market.

Best practice workshop

The challenges faced by the traditional mainstream media in a changing media landscape were also discussed, with Thorsten vom Wege, Chairman of the Handball Commission of the AIPS, the global association of sports journalists, saying: “The kind of media at major events has changed too, as more and more bloggers and others from online-platform fill the media tribunes, while the financial resources of traditional media does not allow the journalists to attend every event.”

For the future, all participants agreed on the need to implement a network for the magazines to help and support each other. Another idea being considered by the EHF is to offer a best practice workshop at a future event for all media working in handball, not just print magazines but also web portals.

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