On the third day of FICCI Frames 2012/03, a session devoted to building and nurturing deeper reader engagement in the wake of the digital media onslaught saw N Ram, former editor-in-chief, The Hindu; and Girish Agarwal, director, Dainik Bhaskar Group discuss the manner in which the digital medium affects traditional media.
In his keynote address, Ram said that the news media is in a crisis. He said, "Of late, we have been hearing in India and the world over about the collapse and disintegration of journalism. The broadcast news media, too, is in a state of decline and the future of newspaper and television is gloomy due to the advent of the digital medium."
Highlighting the paradox that is prevalent in media consumption, he said, "Even though there is constant talk of the print medium dying, the numbers tell a different tale. The increasing readership and circulation figures go against the talk of the disintegration of the print news industry."
Ram mentioned that at the same time, newspaper companies are strengthening their presence online with websites sporting superior content and information. He stressed on the importance of building trust on the basis of content and said, "Trust is the key for newspapers to be successful. As a newspaper, one should be clear about the identity and personality but it's unwise to be obsessed with one demographic. Many newspapers are falling into the trap of targeting demographic."
Agarwal, in his address, stressed upon the need for adaptability by media organisations to ensure that relevant content is dished out every day. He said, "The business of newspaper is all about being relevant. As a newspaper, we are faced with the Herculean task to present information that is relevant. And, this can be achieved by being adaptable to the consumers' needs and requirements."
Agarwal highlighted the advantage for the India newspaper industry. He said, "There is a huge gap between the number of people who can read and the number of people who do read newspapers. This difference in numbers should be understood and used by newspaper groups to ensure more adoption."
He also said that it is imperative that news organisations acknowledge and understand the reader without playing around with fundamentals of journalism.
Answering an audience question on the impact of the digital medium on traditional media, Ram responded, "Digital presents tremendous opportunity. Though different players are putting pressure on newspaper circulation and revenue, the fact is that newspaper reaches more number of people than the internet."