The problems confronting the small and medium newspapers with special focus on North East was deliberated upon at a seminar organised by the Indian Newspaper Society in Guwahati earlier this month.
Initiated by Sunil Dang, Chairman, Small And Medium Newspapers Committee, the seminar turned out to be quite successful in identifying the difficulties and problems of member publications in the North East, and saw the participation of around 40 member publications from the region.
In his inaugural address, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of State for Planning and Development, Assam, welcomed the initiative of INS and assured that the Government of Assam would extend full cooperation to the INS in further strengthening the press in North East and would help in organising similar conferences in the future.
The inaugural address was followed by an ‘Open House Session’. Initiated by R K Guptan, Deputy Secretary, INS, the session had participants like Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, Member, INS Executive Committee and Editor Aji; and Anurag Batra, Managing Director, Publisher and Editor in Chief, exchange4media group, among others.
While highlighting the element of terrorism in the North East, Dang enumerated lack of social security, unavailability of latest technology and weak content as key factors challenging the small and medium newspapers in the North East.
He said, “Small and medium newspapers need to be taken care of, efforts should be made to make them more credible in terms of content and support them also in the shape of advertisements.”
The day-long seminar also touched upon the significance of using modern technology through a technical presentation on “Use of modern technology and reduction of cost”.
Kicked off by Apurba Sengupta, Vice-President, Anand Bazar Patrika, Kolkata and moderated by Sandip Mitra, Deputy General Manager, Indian Express, Kolkata, the session highlighted various issues concerning the application of modern technology, which called for higher investment initially but has the advantage of cost reduction in the long run.
The speakers pointed out that small and medium newspapers in the North East could overcome the numerous problems by the formation of a consortium and also laid stress on the fact that agents should be offered higher discounts in order to bring in more efficiency in the distribution.
The post lunch session saw eminent personalities, including D N Bezboruah, Founder Editor, The Sentinel; Pradip Baruah, Editor, Prantik; and Manash Chowdhury, CMD, Shillong Times highlighting the challenges of the press in the North East.
K N Hazarika, CMD, North East Development Financial Institution addressed the participants.
In the concluding session, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in his address laid stress on the current phase of development in Assam and underlined the role that press could play in this endeavour.
He also advised the press to reduce their dependence and patronage on government advertisements and heed the rules of the market place. He felt that the small and medium newspapers should give importance to the content and concentrate more on regional developmental issues.
Though organised for the first time in the North East, the issues concerning the small and medium newspapers have been addressed previously through different seminars organised by the INS at Delhi, Bhopal and Amravati.
To sum up, the seminar touched upon four key factors in the small and medium newspaper segment – the inadequacy to market themselves to the advertisers and media planners, the need to evangelise and promote their regions, the necessity to increase the DAVP advertising, and last but not the least, the essentiality of promoters to train their key managers properly.