The various issues concerning India’s newspaper industry came under the scanner at the Indian Newspaper Congress 2008, which was held in the Capital on May 16. The Congress was organised by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in collaboration with exchange4media. Newspaper owners, broadcasters, editors and marketers discussed various issues threadbare, issues that would have long term implications for the industry.
Delivering the welcome address, Bahubali Shah, President, INS hailed the first ever Indian Newspaper Congress. He said, “When I took over, I thought it was a great idea to call a gathering of people from different walks of life for the Congress.”
Speaking at the Congress, Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science & Technology, said, “The Indian Newspaper Congress is a first of its kind. The newspaper industry is worth Rs 200 billion worldwide. There is rapid diversification of the print medium. The vernacular press is quite strong in India, which has newspapers published in maximum languages. Vernacular dailies are also showing growing financial clout. Today, print offerings have diversified and multiplied and there is rapid growth of newspapers.”
He further said, “However, media needs to address the challenges of the 21st century and take up issues that impact the entire nation. Media shouldn’t consider itself in isolation. I think what is happening is a huge churn of the society around the world.”
“Accuracy in a newspaper is very important. With television and the Internet, we are getting news real time, but instant news doesn’t cater to much analysis. We aren’t doing what we are supposed to do. A good journalist places the facts and not give any opinion. Electronic media and print media are throwing opinions at us. We need to be upfront about facts. The story of India is told differently in newspapers. A rosy picture is being painted, but the reality of India must be told to the public. The untold stories are left untold,” Sibal observed.
He concluded, “Media shouldn’t be a theatre, catering to public demand. We need to look at the future of a billion people. We need to think about the future. We need to act differently and think differently.”
Anurag Batra, Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media, said, “This idea for the Indian Newspaper Congress was born in conversation with Ashish Bagga of India Today. Then I brought this idea forward to the Indian Newspaper Society. The idea got approved and with the Indian Newspaper Society we have been able to bring out this event.”
Agreeing with Sibal, Batra said, “We need to restore credibility of journalism. Newspapers have to bring credibility to journalism. But we must not forget the convergence era as we are living in a medium which is 24x7.”