Structural shift!
S K Khurana

Apparently, newspaper publishing industry has been passing through qualitatively, quantitatively and technologically challenging media environs, remaining under stress owing to the adverse impact of global recession and simultaneously, fast increasing internet penetration resulting readers migration to on-line. So far, it was generally considered ‘broadband’ is posing the problem mainly for the industry in the west, but the result of the recent survey by Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) showing widespread drop in circulation of Indian English dailies is being deemed as an alarming sign for the domestic newspaper industry. However, India leads in paid-for daily circulation, surpassing China for the first time in 2008, which may be due to burgeoning number of national dailies’ editions and improving performance of vernacular dailies as well.

Still, there is no need to be apprehensive because of this ‘dual stress’ prevailing all over. Notably, during the current decade, the concept of content collaboration widely accepted across the world and in India as well. Resultantly, several joint ventures came into existence over the years such as between India Today group and Associated Newspapers for Mail Today, and between HT and Wall Street Journal for Mint, etc, which also proved successful. No doubt, in the editorial+marketing> prepress>press>mailroom>distribution chain, newspaper publishing houses generally have expertise in descending order of the segments. That’s why, for the last segment, outsourcing has been happening since the beginning. There is a set of distributors who have, over the years, developed infrastructure and are able to handle the newspapers of all publishing houses and see that these are delivered door to door. Now when, the outsourcing has become integral part of business in every industry, why not newspapers should go fewer steps ahead in this direction as the trend has largely started in the North America with fast emerging players as Transcontinental? Enlarging chain of contract newspaper printers in India may adequately help them face the evolving challenges. And those who already have quite sophisticated printing facilities can fully utilise their infrastructure catering commercial jobs in the vast Indian market.

If we vastly adopt the similar concept for prepress and press as well, it may be fruitful for the industry collectively feeding adequate jobs to the printing facilities making them all time busy. The only bottleneck in implementing this concept at large may be ‘the transparency on the circulation’, but it can, sooner or later, be resolved.

With the revenues earned through these initiatives, more cutting-edge technologies can be procured that will ensure much better quality products. Since publishers will be able to relieve themselves from production related issues, more concentration on upgrading the contents focusing innovative journalistic approach may be possible in a bigger way. Besides, there shall be ample time and resources to amplify circulations stemming from new editions. Technology developers have also been striving relentlessly to come out with more innovative solutions to effectively help newspapers profitably sustain the on-going transition phase of change and ensure the growth continuing. And needless to mention, the pervading vogue ‘transforming from print to multimedia businesses’ implicatively earmarks to effectively surge in ‘consumer-controlled media’ scenario where challenge is to reach new audiences retaining exiting ones.

Obviously, the future of newspapers is much brighter than ever before, with radically changing sources of revenues. Ultimately, there is need to anchor the prestige in the fast emerging diverse media industry, by effectively harnessing the ‘power of digital’ to strengthen multimedia platforms, focusing on syndicating contents, exploring new business models and marketing strategies, which would mark the currently occurring ‘structural shift’ more constructive to our nimble establishments!



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