Sigrid Kirk, Group Publisher, and Tom Quinn, CTO, from are the second session here this morning. It’s more of a moderated discussion with Bill Dawes as moderator.

They started by saying that while News has been at the digital game as long as their competitors, they haven’t really “attacked” it as hard as they could have. That, however, is changing fast.

News Lab is a new site they have where they are experimenting with new services they are trialling. They are prepared to experiment and see what works. They have been very pleased with the success of their blogs.

Their biggest challenge is to take their 3000 hard-bitten old world journalists and move them into the new world but they have been surprised at how keen to get involved in the new space many of their people have been. The challenge then is to skill those people up.

Focusing very much of RSS for the future. Starting to experiment more with AJAX. They also see video as very important and have been pleased with how their relationship with ROO Networks has delivered content for them. They were able to put their toe in the water with video pretty quickly and get access to lots of content.

Tom talked a bit about their approach to capacity planning. Steve Irwin’s death created so much traffic on News’ sites it was 3x their previous peak. Peter Brock’s death was 2x their previous peak.

Adelaide Now is a new site which is an online version of News’ Adelaide masthead which is a weekly newspaper but is now producing news daily for the site. They also have Perth Now. Local content they see as being very important in the future.

They have a small multimedia team but are planning on ramping it up soon. They will produce their own video content and make them available to the entire News network. They want to produce as much of their own video as possible but it’s very expensive so they plan to source it from a wide variety of sources, including UGC.

Rod Tobin from their multimedia team said they are currently streaming using Windows Media but want to move to Flash. One reason is that people are watching the video from work and employers are taking media players off corporate PCs.

They see UGC as fairly resource intensive as they need to have people on staff monitoring the content for defamation, etc. Here’s something I didn’t know – MySpace have rooms of people in Puerto Rico monitoring everything that goes up onto MySpace. 40,000 videos a day are uploaded and they have to check every one?

Tom confirmed that advertising dollars are moving from print and TV to online and readership of newspapers is declining year on year. And while they advertising rates online are lower than in print, the costs of production and distribution are lower as well.