News as we know it today has changed tremendously over the years. In a bid to trace its growth and track the road ahead, a conference titled ‘The Future of News’ was held in Delhi on August 1, wherein the discussion centred around the morphing nature of news across media – be it print, TV, online or mobile. ‘The Future of News’ conference was organised by Afaqs.com.
The first session of the day saw the panelists discuss ‘How much is too much news’. The speakers included Sanjay Gupta, CEO, Danik Jagran; Rajat Sharma, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India TV; TN Ninan, Editor & Publisher, Business Standard; and Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO, Rediff.com India. The panel was anchored by Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands.
According to Sanjay Gupta, “The titles may be many, but the penetration of these titles is not enough. It is not the kind of news that we should be reading or listening to as it will not take us far. I don’t think there is enough news. There is a difference between news and information, and it has to be distinguished. News today is being driven on the pretext of crime and masala.”
Giving a different view, Rajat Sharma said, “Television news has expanded the horizon of news. TV channels and newspapers are very different from each other, what can be made available at one click on TV, may not be the case in newspapers. Today, the definition of news has changed like it is happening in sports, entertainment and others, so news cannot be far behind.”
Ajit Balakrishnan noted, “Today, with the expansion of the Internet, it is taking away some serious readers. At the same time, I don’t think there is enough news for a country as big as ours. There isn’t enough diversity of knowledge being promoted. Penetration is not as big. I feel it’s just the beginning and there is a long way to go. The last few years have seen a lot of capital inflow, which is giving a chance to TV channels and newspapers to try various new things, and I think that is exciting.”
The second and third panel discussions focused on localisation of content and whether it translated into revenue. Bharat Kapadia, CEO & Managing Director, Jagran 18 was the moderator, The panelists included Arvind Kalia, National Head - Marketing, Rajasthan Patrika; Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder & Managing Director, 9.9 Mediaworx; media consultant Vanita Kohli-Khandekar; Ashok Venkataramani, CEO, Media Content and Communication Services, Star News; Basant Rathore, GM - Brand Development, Jagran Prakashan; Dilip Venkatramab, CMO, IBN Network; and Maheshwer Peri, President and Publisher, Outlook Group.
Bharat Kapadia observed, “In places like Delhi, the circulations will be large and so will be the advertising. In rural areas, per copy readership is very high as compared to urban areas. In the bigger markets, the stakes are higher, while in the local markets the brands are big, but the quality goes down. The reach of English dailies in the rural area is 7 per cent and the advertising revenue has dropped from 75 per cent to 64 per cent.”
According to Arvind Kalia, “There is a tremendous potential in the local markets. There are a lot of panchayats and district elections, where people use newspapers as a medium to communicate their achievements.”
Ashok Venkataramani noted, “A lot of people have stopped thinking on what values they are bringing to advertisers or people who provide content for us. Obvious steps need to be taken in this regard.”