Premised on 30 interviews with newsroom personnel, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has released a country-specific report tracking the digital transition of Dainik Jagran, Hindustan Times and Malayala Manorama. The selection of the three indicated a careful mix of a leading Hindi and English daily apart from essential representation from the regional space.
“Our analysis shows that all three newspapers are investing in expanding their digital activities to pursue new opportunities as digital media becomes more important in India and print relatively less so,” said the report. The amount of money that is being ploughed in digital by these newspapers is more than many of their competitors in the publishing realm claimed the study.
“The focus of the study was not at looking into the financial aspect. We focused more on work practises,” said Vibodh Parthasarathi, one of the four authors of the report. He revealed that a series of such studies were being planned with one of them concentrating on the business part of digital operations.
As of now, Parthasarathi opined that costs were still high with companies more focussed on investment in digital for long-term gain as opposed to immediate profits. There is difficulty in tracking revenues of media companies from digital initiatives also because they are not listed as separate entities.
It was noted in the report that the organisations were investing in not just training their staff but also technology. Jagran has done so by cultivating a CMS of its own whereas HT and Manorama run on third-party software. Journalists at these workplaces have been introduced to digital storytelling tools such as Dataminr and Chartbeat as each of the companies monitor audience engagement data on a real-time basis.
The 40-page report pointed out that while Hindustan Times stands for convergence, Jagran and Manorama have embarked on the digital route by setting up new offices to power Jagran.com and Manorama Online, respectively. The idea at Hindustan Times is to equip the workforce to produce content across platforms i.e. mobile, print, social, web, etc. On the other hand, Jagran and Manorama have focused on “expanding parallel digital operations” distinct from the printing business.
“At Dainik Jagran and Malayala Manorama, much of the push for change has come from the management, whereas there has been a stronger editorial involvement at the Hindustan Times and a greater attempt to engage rank-and-file reporters through training sessions,” it added. By acting in such a manner, Reuters narrated that the former two have avoided the possibility of resistance to workflow changes by the staff which is often accustomed to a certain work culture.
In conclusion, the report observed the uniqueness of the domestic digital transition. “In terms of economics, all three newspapers are operating from a position of strength unlike their Western or many Asian counterparts as their print papers continue to bring in significant revenue which can be channelled towards strengthening digital operations,” the report said.
However, it did not fail to mention that Indian newspapers faced stiff competition from the likes of Scroll, Quint, Dailyhunt and other global technology companies rapidly placing money in the country’s online market.