On winning the IMPACT Person Of The Year 2013 last week, Vineet Jain, Managing Director of Times Group, in his acceptance speech, highlighted the achievements of his company and the important business challenges for all kinds of media—including electronic, TV, apart from print—that lay ahead to cater efficiently to the ‘digital generation’.
Jain said that he accepted the honour on behalf of his brother Samir Jain and the Times Group. He also mentioned how important and significant the award was for him as The Times Of India is also in its 175th year this year.
He spoke about the impact created by the media conglomerate and of technology and society on the media landscape.
Here are some excerpts:
‘We live in confusing times…’
Several years ago, I introduced ‘Times View’ and solutions-oriented journalism across the news pages of The Times Of India. We live in confusing times, bombarded as we are by a multitude of news streams, often of questionable credibility. I felt our readers needed quick, sharp comments on important news developments side-by-side with the stories.
I also felt we needed to go beyond simply criticising to actually providing solutions and action plans for policy- and decision-makers. The idea was to shape opinion and drive change on a diverse range of issues—from de-criminalisation of homosexuality, to fair and transparent allocation of natural resources. I can, with some modesty, claim that governments, legislatures and courts have taken cognizance of our views.
‘We have no political masters; nor do we have any hidden agenda’
Does that mean we seek power or influence? We do not. But we do want to make a difference. I will take the liberty of reiterating what I recently said at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of our 175th anniversary (which Union Minister of Law Kapil Sibal graciously facilitated with a special stamp release). We have no political masters; nor do we have any hidden agenda. If there’s anybody’s side we take, it is that of our readers. We want to make India a better place for our children.
I believe a group such as exchange4media also has an important role to play in shaping the discourse of our times. You follow media closely, and that places a great responsibility upon you. Our industry is truly at a crossroads. The pace of disruptive change will further accelerate in the years to come.
‘The internet will have a profound impact on television’
Technology—be it broadband, or wireless—is transforming the way information and entertainment is produced, delivered and consumed. There’s convergence on the one hand, fragmentation on the other. The rise of social media and other new platforms has spawned a mind-boggling array of sources for news and views.
The internet will have a profound impact on television, especially if 4G delivers on its promise. YouTube is today competing with traditional TV and mobile companies are morphing into media companies. Old business models are being questioned. Newspapers can no longer remain just newspapers. Print journalists will need to develop new skills and talents. There’s been talk of integrated newsrooms and changes in workflow for close to a decade. I believe it’s now imminent.
Many of you must have used the ‘Alive’ app in our newspapers, which moves you seamlessly from print to video through the mobile. Newspapers must embrace multimedia, straddling text, audio and video, in order to provide a 360-degree experience across devices and screens.
‘We haven’t fully tapped Young India’
The Times Group, with its presence across all platforms, will work to enrich the experience of the millions who consume our content daily in various forms. Timesofindia.com is among the Top 10 English newspaper sites in the world. But we are still scratching the surface; the potential is enormous.
We haven’t fully tapped Young India. Almost 40 per cent of our population is 18 years of age or younger, and more than half are 25 years or less. We must meet, and anticipate, their needs. Every time Arnab (Goswami) shouts, “The nation wants to know”, you must wonder, what or who is this “nation”? It is our huge population of the young and restless, who are impatient with the status quo.
Besides these important business challenges, there are broader issues that are equally critical. We need to unite as an industry to resist attempts by governments and other authorities to trespass on the freedom of media, often behind the smokescreen of regulation. Freedom of expression – indeed the very idea of democracy – rests on the foundation of a free and fair media.
In conclusion, I’d like say that if the Times Group has survived and grown for 175 years, it is because our core values have remained constant: Our commitment to the truth and our commitment to our readers, viewers and listeners.
Instituted by the exchange4media Group and in its ninth year, the IMPACT Person Of The Year award recognises excellence in the advertising, media and marketing domain. This year, Vineet Jain won the title in a ceremony attended by industry bigwigs, for his industry-shaping initiatives that have redefined media consumption in the digital age, setting a benchmark with young and vibrant media products and leading the paradigm shift to adoption of technology in the media and entertainment industry.
IMPACT Person of the Year, 2013 had Colors as the presenting partner, and Chitralekha, Comedy Central and Godrej Properties as associate partners.