Digital journalism has not yet attained maturity in India,
says Anjan Mazumdar of HT Media
Doubtless to say ‘digital platform’ is the biggest ever technological revolution the newspaper industry has embraced till date. This new technological revolution of catching news on smart-phones and other mobile and online gadgets has enormously changed the people’s news reading habit. But it has a different take in the Indian market as ANJAN MAZUMDAR, vice president–supply chain & operations, HT Media Limited, gives reasons why it is so in a freewheel chat with JYANESWAR LAISHRAM.
In a mix of speculation and reality, there are talks in the industry about dying of printed newspapers soon in near future, as in reality some have already dead in the American and European markets. “The dead will not come to the Indian printed newspaper market at the rate of what we assume and expect. The physical copies in our country have a survival period of around two decades down the line, because of certain reasons, which may include the explicit nature of our market,” says Anjan Mazumdar.
Anjan figures out two big reasons why the printed newspapers in India have to stay for some time. First, the digital or online journalism is not yet attained its maturity in the country. Secondly, printed newspapers are tremendously growing in the regional domains, gaining a new ground of readership. “In order to gain mass popularity, online/digital platform first needs to improve its authenticity and essence of pure journalism,” says Anjan, adding that the medium needs to bring full trust to readers.
“On the other side, as long as we look at the growth receiving in the regional newspaper market, India is quite different from what is going on at present in the European and American markets—shutting down of editions and staff downsizing,” exclaims Anjan. He observes that the regional or language newspapers in India continue to receive 11 to 15 percent annual growth rates.
In his growth story of printed newspapers, Anjan brings Hindustan Times on the scene by taking into a deep account of the leading national daily’s current stance in the market, giving a spotlight on some salient features, concerning the touch and feel factor as well as strong journalism (content) of the newspaper. “When it comes to the unique appearance of the newspaper, first and foremost point I like to bring here is its design. Hindustan Times is designed by the world’s renowned newspaper designer Mario Garcia,” mentions Anjan.
“The closeness of Hindustan Times to the heart of our readers, particularly in north India, is due to many vital reasons – one among them being the newspaper’s 90 years of presence in the region,” narrates Anjan, adding that Mahatma Gandhi founded the daily, then afterward his son edited it, and it’s the guidance and principle set by the Father of Nation that everyone in the newspaper still follows.
According to Anjan, Hindustan Times always moves along the trends that come up with the changes in time. He says they have a model called Constant Market Contact Programme specially designed for checking the market pulse and response. “Under this programme, we keep checking what readers want in terms of content and look of the newspaper. And we evaluate the smallest feedback we receive from them (readers) from different geographies. For example, when our readers felt the copy of a particular day was quite toned down or jarring, then we would observe and study why it was so for further correction and improvement,” exclaims Anjan.
“For the feel and touch factor, we closely focus on the selection of products, which include newsprint, inks, other raw materials and presses. Every bit of quality check in printout and colour is done by our team of quality experts,” says Anjan. He adds that even the uniformity in quality across all editions of the newspaper, whether it is printed in Maharashtra or Delhi or other big and small cities across the country, is controlled through their national grids, state grids and regional grids designed for printing the copies centrally under a uniform quality control measure.
Anjan has a final message for everyone in the industry: “We all in the news media industry must be optimistic about the new trends and changes happening around us—let’s always focus on cost and quality.”