Digital transition in newsrooms

S M DuttToday the digital media is a new shift. There is a visible digital transition in the newsrooms of newspaper houses in India and abroad. Big newspapers in Europe and America, such as The Guardian and The New York Times that have faced sluggishness in their print business, are moving ahead for big-way digital transformation. These big players have successfully transformed their newsrooms from print only publications to multimedia news providers, bringing out both print and digital editions side by side. This is an ongoing but a costly process for them.

But in India, the scenario is a bit different, especially for language newspapers in the country whose print business is still profitable. The Q1 report of IRS (Indian Readership Survey) 2019 shows an upward trend in consumption of printed newspapers as 1.8 crore additional readers have been added since the IRS 2017. Contrary to what we generally assume, the Indian newspaper houses are quite comfortably investing in digital platforms. They are taking stringent steps to capture the growing digital audience in the country.

While digital transition in the newsrooms of leading national dailies in India is carried out very similar to English-language newspapers abroad, language newspapers have adopted the approaches that are specific to their regional niche audience. National dailies refurbish their existing print newsrooms to do print as well as digital and mobile journalism. In the meanwhile, to break a new ground on the digital platform, language newspapers focus on launching digital operations with separate newsrooms housing new digital staff for producing purely digital media products, which are not limited to news.

As overall production and distribution of digital contents is handled by a team of digital experts from a separate newsroom, newspaper houses keep their traditional newsrooms protected from any difficulty that could arise while moving into digital. In general, print reporters are not directly involved with the digital publication. But they continue to be the primary source of news for websites and mobile applications.

In the digital newsroom, reporters adapt their workflow in accordance to the demand of online space. Although breaking news and some prominent features of online news have been made a priority for all reporters, journalism remains the same. The only difference is that those in digital media have to break the news themselves either directly into CMS or via WhatsApp or other apps, while print has the whole day to produce the story.

Digital newsrooms demand the use of new tools and methods to gather, publish and distribute news. This has resulted in the emergence of new kinds of newswork performed by a new category of news workers who are social media savvy and have an eye for trending topics. This is indeed a new paradigm shift in the world of news media.

SM Dutt

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