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

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

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".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.