Future of Print Media in India
A famous saying in all newspaper newsrooms about print media journalists to be extra cautious while filing a report because a newspaper report is a CAST IN STONE, is a definite concern of discussion.
No matter what happens, you can’t change the content after it’s published because it’s in print and have been sent out for distribution. That means the ball is already thrown in the air, and you cannot UNDO the same.
Such was the culpability towards authenticity for cross-checking of every report that newspaper houses often had a hierarchy that started from trainee sub-editors and ended at editors in a longer run.
And between them were sub-editors, senior subs, chief subs, assistant editors, deputy news editors, news editors, resident editors and finally the editor.
This was the just the editorial side of it, forget an entire battalion of a bureau, who too skimmed through every line of a source to pass on the report to the edit team, proudly called THE DESK.
COME BREAKING NEWS
With the advent of breaking news in 2012, speed news started trending since 2013. Stories that even television media couldn’t break because of infrastructure handicaps, smart phones took the lead. That’s where technology played its charm in this industry.
The theory behind instant news was not to sideline print media but the churning was so competitive that it somehow got sidelined. When news was fed every minute, not many cared about their morning newspaper delivery. Because by then, phones were part of the breakfast tables.
According to a recently released data by Media Research Users Council India (MRUC India), newspaper readership is on a slow decline and this trend could be seen across Hindi, English and regional languages
But there’s a catch, according to the latest Indian Readership Survey 2019Q4 data, based on a rolling average of data from IRS 2019 (Q1), (Q2) and (Q3) and fresh Q4 of IRS 2019, Dainik Jagran clocked a total readership of 68,667 in Q4 against 68,667 in Q3 and an average issue readership of 16,872 against 17,496 in Q3.
Highest read English daily, The Times of India, had a readership of 17,344 in Q4 against 16,986 in Q3 showing a rise.
Other than Times of India, the Daily Thanthi, The Telegraph, Lokmat, Hindustan Times and the Hindu are some of the newspapers that have seen a rise in readership even in this slow market.
During the 2008 recession, thanks to Lehman Brothers, sackings in the media houses were up front. You go to the office, your boss tells you we can’t have you because our balance sheet shows we can’t afford another person.
There were, however, some notorious media groups, who very conveniently shut editions even during the 2008 recession and asked the full staff strength to look for other jobs.
Sakal Times, which was being run from Maharashtra, was one such newspaper house that one fine day shut shop in Delhi. It shut the entire Delhi bureau overnight and was not even ready for talks. The plight was such that employees couldn’t even take their belongings from the office drawers.
About 80 employees of the Delhi Bureau were literally on the road. For days they protested on the road in front of its ITO office in Delhi, and all they were given was 3 months CTC, that too after seniors in Delhi office pleaded to the bosses calling the shots from the Pune office.
CUT TO 2020
There’s a jargon in print medium STOP PRESS. It is rarely used but it’s always there at the back of your mind.
It means SOMETHING BREAKING AND NEEDS INSERTION IN THE OUTGOING EDITION.
When Covid-19 struck the world unawares it was almost STOP PRESS in literal terms for every print media entity, as they lost out on advertisements (the primary funding required for every day edition) since March when the lockdown started.
Almost every media house leaped at the crisis and called off further hiring and then stood at the gates to stop the existing staff from entering.
Not because they were Covid-19 positive but because most of them were sacked over WhatsApp or Hangouts or mails and most of them who were sacked didn’t even know they were sacked.
One after the other, media houses shut down editions and forcefully asked the staff to resign citing dried up funds because of Covid-19.
From the best-seller Times of India to the anti-establishment and widely known The Telegraph, everyone took turns to deprive people of what they needed the most during a pandemic — a social existence and means to survive — A JOB.
Almost 4,000 journalists and non-journalists were asked to resign in a span of 3 months starting April.
If we multiply one job loss by 3 members of a family, it’s 12,000 people affected by the rampant sackings that had no planning and no intimidation.
The future of newspapers is not bleak, otherwise the same dailies, which cut staff strength by half, are hiring again and if insiders are to be believed, this number will only go up by 50 percent.
Had people stopped reading newspapers, the colossal newspaper houses would have shut shop long back when internet media was making a penetration back in 2012.
No matter what, print is here to stay but how we use it in the age of breaking news is what we are seeing and have more to see.
Newspaper reporting will always provide back-end support to no matter how much internet intervenes or intrudes our lives.
It would be the SEO, Keyword, and also the relevant Tags for future news mediums to come. Now, when the technology is evolving every single day, the media industry is also adapting to the new normal of same.