There is no dearth of prophets of doom making predictions about the immediate life threat to the print media. I am an avid fan of both print and electronic media, but of late there has been a change in my consumption of the print media.
There was a time when I used to sit with a gigantic cup of tea and the newspaper in the morning for no less than an hour, and then another half hour in the evening with an equally gigantic cup of tea, going through the editorials which I always kept aside for my evening tea. Today, consumption of one cup of tea in the morning- not necessarily gigantic - is enough to cover the entire newspaper. If a newspaper accompanies my evening tea, it is definitely a different newspaper which I read just out of curiosity to see the how it fits in the events of the day within its ideological frame.
The reason for this change in the pattern of reading the newpaper is obvious. The channels exhaust all news. The local channels exhaust local news. So this makes newspaper reading a little tedious - I always have that deja vu feeling without the supernatural element attached to it. The discussions provided by the channels with various experts usually discuss the issues threadbare, with the newsreader's position (left, right, extreme right) reflecting the agenda of the channel. But that does not take away from the charm of the editorial, which , I find always offers a unique perpective and some good language encounter(sometimes they slip here. very sad.
This explains the way the print media has given itself a make over in the recent times. It now targets readers who are hooked on the entertaintment and serial programmes in the electroninc media. This category of readers has to to be mesmerised by sheer sensationalism. Hence the sensationalizing - sometimes ugly, sometimees indelicate, sometimes indecent, sometimes totally unsanitised, sometimes totally irresponsible - of news.
Another starategy employed by the print media(malayalam local papers) is the expansion of the obituary space. I know people who read the newspapers only to check out the obituary pages. Of course this is a service rendered by the media, and the print media in Kerala has discovered that this service will keep it alive for a long time. So one can expect another page added to the orbituary section.
Allow me now to add my drop to the ocean of predictions - though Cassandra like in my case, I know - regarding the future of the print media.
With the ever increasing reach of TV and the internet, the print media will have to micro focus on local news, local events and local services. Then there would be a minimum three pages of orbituary, sports pages, entertainment pages and one page of national and international news. How they will order it, I have no idea. Since the consumption of sports and entertainment pages will remain high for a long time, these pages would indulge in novel ways of sensationalism, perhaps highlighting sectarian interests in the spotrsworld where the local sportspersons will always be shown as underprivileged, or peeping into the bedrooms of adullterous relationships or deviant sexual practices of film personalities and other celebrities. In short, the newspaper of the future will be tabloids in the vernacular and English Language.