Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Print Media : On the Decline?

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.


  1. We dont have much to worry KT, well in the East I mean. People whose business it is know these things say that though the circulation of newspapers have considerably gone down in the West with the advent of news on the internet and TV channels, in Asian countries, the print media has been growing more popular over the recent years. Source of information suggests materialism behind the decline in West which according to him, was not quite catching in the East.

  2. hmm...
    we get what we deserve..
    People like to read gossip/masala... and hence the glamourization of media..

    One might argue, that newspapers have a responsibility...But will such newspapers survive?

  3. fully agree to the all points mentioned except this one...

    "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. "

    I think if you look at countries where already the reach of internet is good the relevance of print media is still high..its good in a way that we have a parallel media which can bring other side of the story ..however popular online media is ,people still look to newspapers as "legitimate" source of information...

  4. Hi,

    Well opinated article... I do accept that in some cases the 4th Pillar goes over the prescribed limits and misuses its freedom., There have been plenty of such incidents where in the sensationalism has taken priority over the sober issues..

    Your article gave us some glimpses into the working of local newspapers.,.regarding your prediction of the future state of newspapers, i would prefer to adopt a wait and see policy.,. Though the obituary importance in today's newspapers is something which is a kinda mystery.,.

    Seems like you have devoted this blog to explore the insides of Kerala and tell about them :)

    I would appreciate if you could share your feedback about my blog.,.,



  5. @ all
    very useful info, cris.
    "newspaper must have a responsibility" -ideally yes.Like u said, deepak, it is a survival problem.
    i think, mathew, people are growing cynical about all media -
    yes, prasanth sree. lets wait & watch - -but i dont think i am far off the mark. shal be visiting ur blogs-it's something sitting in a journalism class:-). i enjoy reading them

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  7. heheheheeee, actually even though i dont echo this feeling, it seems as if our media giants are already feeling uneasy about new technology and systems kicking in...

    Manorama, for instance, seems hell bent on campaigning against orkut, blogs, bluetooth and co... lol...

    Didn't you hear, our GoK is investigating the blogsphere for alleged conspiracy against Communism through it...:), jeez, i may be taken in soon, as I've not wasted any chance to bash the bunch of jokers...be it communists, congress or bjp..

    Oops, that another offence, no?:)


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