The third session of NewsNext 2010 saw a very interesting discussion between LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, and Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now. The two industry leaders shared their views on ‘News Television – Up close and Personal’.
Krishnan kickstarted the session by asking Goswami how much print journalism influenced TV journalism and how it would be in the future. Goswami replied by saying, “Print is where it all started. But over time, television has changed, which is a natural progression. Print hasn’t changed much, but will have to undergo forced change.” According to him, in the future this difference will only grow as more and more audience, especially the youngsters, were moving towards TV.
Goswami further said, “I am very generous towards and not competing with it. Print is used as a force multiplier today.”
Krishnan then asked about how news is covered differently by television and print. To this, Goswami replied, “I always look for stories that have the potency to make more sense on TV than on print. The Election coverage and Commonwealth Games are examples where TV and print can work together to enhance the impact.” He cited the example of the fake IPL player whose identity Times Now had revealed. When asked whether he would go to print, Goswami answered in the affirmative as it actually led to greater impact of the story.
He further remarked, “What I have learnt is that when one is less experienced, one says simple things in a complicated manner. But when one has more experience, then one says complicated things in a simple manner. I also learnt another thing. There are two basic choices in journalism – cover the scam or interview the scamster. Times Now will usually cover the scam, while others usually interview the scamster.”
When asked about Times Now’s association with Reuters in the beginning and the reason for breaking up of the association later, Goswami replied, “We have begun learning faster in our own way. Reuters was a fantastic collaboration. When I had 27 reporters in 30 locations for the US Presidential elections, Times Now was complimented on its brilliant coverage and channels in the US asked me how much I have spent. When I told them that I had spent a fraction of what they themselves were spending, I realised that we were better at it and were learning faster and better.”
The conversation between Goswami and Krishnan wrapped with a special address by Union Minister for Coal, Sriprakash Jaiswal, who spoke about the role of news channels in today’s world. “Media’s avatar will progress at great speed. But some progress needs reigning in as well,” Jaiswal pointed out. He further said the electronic media had always looked after the fact that the people of the nation were not hurt. “The presentation of news at times is such that the people and their sentiments are impacted. But it is the channels’ responsibility that anything that they said or did not adversely affect the society,” Jaiswal stressed.
Following Jaiswal’s address LV Krishnan gave a short presentation, titled ‘News in today’s world’, on TAM analysis and some interesting findings regarding trends. He initiated the presentation by pointing out the changes news television over the years. From the earlier single channel scenario, today there were multiple channels. There had also been a distinct movement from politics to entertainment. While earlier there used to be a fixed time for news, now news was aired 24 hours a day.
He pointed out that today there were nearly 100 news channels and the genre was growing. Today, there were 96 active channels that had a reach of 79 per cent and came third after GECs and movie channels in terms of viewership. News channels had a whopping 150-plus million viewers per week.
“What it takes to achieve success for the news genre is building a connect with the people,” Krishnan emphasised. Of the nearly 100 channels, 28 were the ones connecting with people and enjoyed 80 per cent of the viewership. The top 10 stories contributed 55 per cent of the audience. “Inviting the audience is easier, catching their attention is tough,” he pointed out.
According to Krishnan, there were basically five rules to stay ahead of the competition. Firstly, Breaking News should not be something that has already broken on other news channels. The channels should go beyond the headlines as viewers can watch repetitions only 2.5 times. Secondly, a big piece of news is multi-channel and can span multimedia coverage. Furthermore, big anchors/ critics add confidence to news and views as there is a need for conclusive points of view. Next come the 3Cs that always appeal – cricket, cinema, crime. This is because they have mass appeal and are common denominator news. Lastly, voices of local issues want to be heard and claim space over national issues.
Other findings include that while crime and entertainment draw audiences, weather, too, is becoming critical in Hindi news. Politics has scaled up in English news. Entertainment in the afternoon, politics and sports are primetime for Hindi News, while for English News, Political & Social News are primetime. Krishnan concluded his presentation by saying, “Law of diminishing returns holds good for news channels as well. A story after it loses its relevance has no audience.”
(exchange4media.com will carry more news on the NewsNext 2010 sessions tomorrow, September 3, 2010, as well. Do log in.)