Is Indian Newspaper Industry Flourishing or Floundering?

This past week saw multitude of news stories featuring on the print media industry, and surprisingly all telling varying tales. They commonly talked about the limitations and threats faced by the most ancient form of mass media, which traces its roots to the pre independence era.

However while some news stories gave a rosy picture planted with some mind boggling facts about the print media market share which was estimated to sky rocket by 2012, others whined about the apparent decline of publications, thanks to the digitising world.

Going by the rosy aplomb, Indian newspaper industry is slated to grow manifold, with growth rate circling around 6%. Its market share is projected to grow from Rs 56,300 crore to Rs 92,900 crore by the end of 2013, as per the research done by the Pricewater house cooper.

Incidentally, Hyderabad is hosting the 62nd annual world newspaper meet, which would see bigwig of newspaper fraternity confabulating upon the limitations of the current business model, and the apparent changes that are in urgency to be brought about to fight the challenges posed by the new age media. Well, Isn’t change in business model and that too in the one that has been there from time immemorial, thought of only when the industry is fumbling or facing some kind of unease in functioning the regular way?

Also, Indian readership survey 2009 postulates that almost all of the English dailies are losing readership at a rate much faster than the rate of their growth. Many of them including the biggies such as Times of India and HT have reported slump in readership as compared to the IRS 2008.

Aren’t these news feeds about the Indian newspaper industry paradoxical? This ambivalence called for an analysis, and here I go scavenging for the answer if newspaper industry really suffering from recession of public need.

Notably, the fierce bout from the new media, mainly internet, has of late been giving publications nightmares of capitulating to the threat from alternative media that’s gradually come on to stare at the face. And now with the innovations like that of Amazon’s Kindle, the going has just got tougher for the tangible newspapers. Technologies like that of kindle, a type of digital book, leave absolutely no breathing space for the publications, as every earlier perceived strength of the traditional media, have found slick alternatives.

Archival quality of newspapers was assumed to be one of the biggest assets of newspapers, however this strength has soon turned out to be a drawback, as people feel troubled to store newspapers and hence prefer , internet reading , which gives them access 24*7 without demanding storage.

In America, the balloon has already gone up, with newspapers publications dropping down the curtain as things like readership go waning to the extent of leaving no hopes for survival. But, when advertising is concerned, newspaper advertisements are trusted more than the internet advertisements. Internet ads are considered to be phoney and kind of sham, with forthright purpose of alluring people into some bogus deal

However, declining readership in no way means declining demand. The only reason for the publications calling quits being the high fixed cost of print publishing, making the major metro newspaper business model unsustainable in a world that increasingly wants information to be free.

Nonetheless, this whole idea would assumingly take generational time to subsume completely in India. The present situation in America also owes to the fact that the newspaper sales are mostly done through paper stands and stalls, which needs consumer to buy the paper daily. In India, the sales are largely door to door, one of the biggest reasons for the sales of the newspaper to go on as usual without soaring epaper readership doing much damage.

The reputation enjoyed by newspapers is far more trustworthy and reliable than that of any other mass communication medium. Newspapers are still the primary and at times the only source of news available. Especially in India, people have a certain sense of loyalty towards the paper they read, and that’s the relationship that’s hard to be cracked.

Ofcourse, tough time is calling and even business model cries for revampment but not to the extent that newspapers cease to exist.

Tanya Jain

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