Skip to main content

Fear of losing dedicated readers? Newspapers struggle to survive Covid-19, lockdown

By Nava Thakuria*
Newspapers in India face an uphill task to maintain its readership index as New Delhi declared for a complete lockdown till the middle of April because of pandemic Covid-19 outbreak in the large country. A shutdown that instantly prevented the vendors to deliver morning newspapers at their doorsteps of buyers and the rumour that the paper itself can carry the novel corona virus forced many publishers to drastically reduce their circulation figure.
As the China-originated deadly virus started smashing almost all the countries on the planet resulting in affecting over a hundred thousand people and casualties up to few thousands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to front to lead the fight against the deadly virus. Modi in a televised address to the billion-plus nation on March 24, 2020 declared a total shutdown to break the chain of infection so that the spreading of Covid-19 can be prevented.
As the pandemic infected around 1,000 Indians with tens of casualties, its immediate impact was observed over the circulation of newspapers in Mumbai as the vendors ceased to work because of Covid-19 outbreak.
Managements of all print media houses after a meeting with Brihanmumbai Vruttapatra Vikreta Sangh resolved to suspend publications till 30 March. The decision finally resulted in no newspaper day for the residents of Mumbai as well as Thane, Pune, Nagpur etc.
However, managements of "The Times of India", "The Indian Express", "The Hindu", "Hindustan Times", "Mid-Day" etc. made it clear that even though no physical editions would hit the stands on account of the new-found restrictions their newspapers would be thoroughly available in the internet. Many media houses started sharing the PDF version of complete newspaper free of cost. Acclaimed news magazine "Outlook" also suspended its print edition pushing its digital edition available to nurture the need of readers.
After Mumbai, it was the turn for hundred thousand residents of Bangalore, Hyderabad along with Guwahati, Imphal, Agartala, Aizawl in northeast India to miss their favourite morning newspapers as the local distributors decided to suspend their works because of the virus outbreak. Guwahati newspaper-hawkers’ association, Manipur hawkers’ association, Tripura and Mizoram-based newspaper vendors separately came out with the resolution that they would not distribute the newspapers for some days.
The region witnesses the publication of over 50 morning dailies in different languages including English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Boro, Meitei, Karbi, Khasi, Mizo, Nagamese, Nepali, etc. Few viral posts on social media indicating the newspapers as a potential career of corona virus created panic to the newspaper agents and hawkers along with other media employees. Even many apartment societies and families prevented the vendors delivering newspapers to them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has however asserted that newspapers are still safe to touch by anybody even though the corona virus can live on some surfaces for several days. The papers used in print media outlets are produced in highly automated mills and the process hardly needs human hands.
Moreover, the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes Covid-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low, it added. But reports relating to suspended publication of physical editions because of Covid-19 started pouring from different parts of the globe.
From Sylhet (Bangladesh) to Colombo (Sri Lanka), Rabat (Morocco) to Rome (Italy), Vatican City to Jordan, Oman, Yemen capitals along with American cities like Pittsburgh, Seattle, Missouri, West Virginia, Lewisburg etc. witness temporary suspension of newspaper productions. Those media outlets have already committed for entering into the digital platforms completely.
Newspaper is sold in market at a lower price than actual cost. Deficit (also profit) is managed by commercial advertisers
The largest democracy in the world today supports over 82,000 registered newspapers with a cumulative daily circulation of 11 crore estimated to be a Rs 32,000 crore (5 billion USD) industry. As India has been improving its literacy rate up to 75 percent, more citizens now develop the capacity and resources to access newspapers and digital forums. More middle class Indian families now start using the internet for various activities for the first time in their lives.
Prior to declaring the 21-day nationwide lockdown to fight against Covid-19, Modi interacted with some selected media barons in the country and received suggestions from them over the issue. It is quite amazing that Modi did not organize such interactions with news media owners prior to the shocking announcement of demonetisation (2016), abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir (2019) and paving ways for the citizenship amendment act 2019.
Even Indian Union information & broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar commented, “Do not believe in the rumours. You will not get infected by reading newspapers. There is just one rule to follow — wash your hands after doing any work.” A former journalist, Javadekar asserted that newspapers have tremendous credibility and those can play a constructive role in the time of crisis.
Understanding the heat of changing social engineering, various print media houses opted for boosting their presences in the digital media.
As millions of Indians now start using smart phones with internet connectivity, the media owners come to the realization that they would now prefer to get all necessary and almost free news contents from the digital platforms rather than paying for newspapers or even news channels. So the advertisers have also substantially shifted their focus to the digital media space.
It need not to be reminded that a newspaper in India is sold in the market at a lower price than its actual cost. The deficit (also profit) is managed by the commercial advertisers. They want a newspaper to reach more people (with a price or even without it) so that their products get necessary visibilities. Minus circulation, the advertisers would not support the newspapers anymore. So no distribution of newspapers (even it is duly published) simply means low advertisement flow for print media outlets.
The situation can emerge alarming for regional newspapers like those published from Guwahati, Imphal, Agartala, Aizawl etc., as the owners may not be able to sustain their publications for a longer period. It would directly impact the employees including thousands of scribes in the region. A number of media bodies came out with statements against the rumour that newspapers can carry the corona virus. They also appealed to the governments to support the media houses to deal with the situation.
A host of Guwahati-based media houses including "Asomiya Pratidin", "The Assam Tribune", "Dainik Janambhumi", "Niyomiya Barta", "Dainik Asom", "Amar Asom", "Purbanchal Prahari", "Sadin", "The North East Times", "The Meghalaya Guardian" etc. made a collective statement that there is no scientific proof for newspapers carrying the corona virus to the readers. The managements also asserted that a section of electronic and social media outlets spread the unauthenticated news.
But countering it, many social media users put a harsh question to those media houses if they could assure their valued readers of authenticated, credible and balanced news here after! The world would return to normalcy fighting against Covid-19 in some day, but will the traditional media houses in the region ever get its dedicated readers back in the post-corona era, a difficult question to be answered indeed!
---
*Northeast India-based media activist

Comments

SAMIR SARDANA said…
Media Ethics !

The DNA of the Indian Media (as Black mailers) and their nexus with drug dealers,smugglers,bootleggers,illegal gambling,prostitution, trafficking, slave labour,organ trafficking …………….. is EPITOMISED BY THE GOAN MEDIA

The track record of the corrupt,inept,semi-literate, heathen, parochial, chauvinistic, racist and debauched Goan Media ,whose actions and utterances are well known, and in the public domain (such as the case of the Casino extortion FIR filed on Goan Herald,or the FIR on Goan Herald staff for rape,or the FIR on Goan Herald for advertising, sponsoring and operating a Ponzi Lottery) , and is known to survive on extortion money and induced advertisements from the matka, gambling and prostitution industry

• The owners of the media in Goa, are Business tycoons in the mining,resources and property sector – which are the primary cause, for corruption in Goa.It is natural that there is no intellectual or ideological motivation, behind these media ventures.The Goan media thrives only on the advertisements of the vice sector – which is the primary cause of the crimes related to drugs, trafficking, prostitution,pimping,organ trafficking,matka,lotteries,illegal gambling etc.Without these evils,there would be no entertainment industry in Goa, and thence, no media.
• In Goa.,the Media runs on the gambling,matka,drugs and liquor sector and adverts – by direct and indirect methods.The salaries of the Goa state, are paid by the taxes from casinos and alcohol,and the state is financially bankrupt
• As as example,Goan newspapers till a few years ago,used to carry advertisements,in their newspapers on MATKA strategies.
https://www.newsgram.com/politicians-policemen-named-in-fir-against-matka-gambling/
• As an example,The Goan Herald has had an FIR on the newspaper management,for extorting crores from Casino Pride in adverts – as a barter to NOT carry negative casino news in their newspaper.The CD of the extortion is in the public domain and there is no chargesheet,even after 4 years
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/FIR-in-casino-case-against-local-English-dailys-officials/articleshow/53470453.cms
http://asu.thehoot.org/media-watch/media-practice/an-extortion-sting-implicates-goas-herald-9490
https://www.opindia.com/2016/07/sting-videos-reveal-paid-news-racket-of-media-rs-25-lacs-pm-for-no-negative-stories/
• The same newspaper had started and sponsored a Ponzi scheme of investment returns in Goa
• The newspaper serves and has served as a mouthpiece of the Church,and has been used in the past to drive the Congress out of power in Goa
• Till some months ago,the Goan newspapers used to carry tips and advertisements on matka gambling, on a special page – and the newspapers sales used to spike on those days. The Goan media has no domain expertise, in any subject,and has carried as 1st page news,subjects like Goa Police arrests “Chaddhi Chor”.
• In other words the Goan media is owned by the prime drivers of corruption, and their revenue is earned from the primary sources of crime.In addition,the Goan media is fully aware of the calibre, worth and ethical matrix of the Goa Police.Further,the Goan Media is run by Orthodox,Conservative and Jingoistic Hindus and Catholics ,who are primarily concerned with pushing and protecting the interests of their ilk.

WHEN I HEAR “MEDIA ETHICS CODE” – I DO NOT KNOW WHICH WORLD THE LAW MAKERS ARE IN ? dindooohindoo

MEDIA = Modi Engineered Demagoguery in India

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Industries dumping effluents into Narmada, destroying Adivasis' organic farms: Medha

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar believes that it is not just rehabilitation issues which nag the Sardar Sarovar dam affected people, especially Adivasis who have lived along the Narmada river for centuries.  The river water is now facing excessive sand mining, on one hand, and effluent discharge in Narmada and its tributaries, on the other, making people increasingly restive, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part 2*): *** Q: Apart from rehabilitation, which other issues, in your view, are affecting people living next to the Narmada river today? A: Since in 2019, when they filled up the dam to the full reservoir level, 138 metres, we notice, the river is going down and down and down... Q: Is it because of the climate change? A: Partly, but the main reason is illegal, unbound, unwanted sand mining. Just as Yamuna got finished, Narmada is following the same pattern. We won the case against illegal mining. There are also a number of judgments, like

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Ukraine: Why Gandhi's thinking offers serious alternative to today's 'violent' civilization

By Prem Singh*  Splintered lies the ethics, In varying degrees Which both have bent The Pandavas less, the Kauravas more Oh, when will this bloodletting end …? – 'Andha Yug', Dharamveer Bharati. The Russia-Ukraine war shows no signs of ending. However, there continue to be constant statements, discussions, and write ups from leaders, diplomats, experts, officials, scholars and ordinary citizens on various aspects related to the war. Whatever the significance of this whole exercise in the discussion of the causes, implications, effects, consequences etc. of war, it has been if little help in exerting any positive influence. It seems that modern violent civilization doesn't appear to have many options, not only by politicians and diplomats, but also by various experts and scholars who have taken their stand on the war. It can also be said that that they do not perceive modern civilization as violent. The UN general secretary says that the Russia-Ukraine war is an absurdity, a

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o