Print will never lose its relevance: Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Chairman & MD, Jagran Prakashan

In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, Jagran Prakashan, spoke about the growing relevance of print in India, challenges in practicing independent journalism and dealing with the rising cost of print publishing

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Apr 30, 2018 9:00 AM

Print media continues to hold its ground in India despite the growing popularity of digital. With the rising cases of fake news on digital, print players are once again swearing by the credibility of this age-old medium.

In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, Jagran Prakashan, spoke about the growing relevance of print in India, challenges in practicing independent journalism and dealing with the rising cost of print publishing.

Excerpts:

Print is on decline globally, though India presents a unique case. What steps are print players undertaking to stay relevant in the long run?

If you look at print in India, it is the English news readership which has declined over the years. It has not been growing. However, the language press is growing. The reason is that literacy is still growing in India and also the maximum population resides in the Hindi (regional) belt. I personally feel that for the next 15 years, we will continue to witness growth in print owing to language press.

How is the digital vs print debate shaping up in India and how do you see it settling down?

I personally feel that digital cannot replace print. Newspapers are playing a vital role by providing more analysis and in-depth information. Digital is only good for getting speedy information. Look at WhatsApp, which is part of digital media; it has raised concerns about fake news. Given this scenario, print will never lose its relevance.

Coming to the recent Indian Readership Survey (IRS) data, do you think the results were on expected lines?

It was expected. There was no surprise. We have continued to hold leadership position in the market for the last 20 years. Before this, there were certain mistakes in the data, but it never affected us at all because we have a genuine readership base.

Have there been any attempts to muzzle independent media?

I think no government could control the media earlier also. Efforts are always there by everyone because whosoever is in power does not like to see any news against them. I don’t think the media can be controlled and we are quite a free nation and we will continue to be. For Jagran, I can say that we are very open and we are not a party paper at all. For us, the reader is supreme. We are concerned about the interest of our readers. We want to solve their problems and make their lives better.

The media can criticize and it is doing that job. But for electronic media, I have my reservations. We did venture into TV once, but we had to sell it off because of credibility factor. The credibility of electronic media has gone down as it tends to exaggerate everything.

Finally, with paper prices going up by 15-18%, how are publishers coping with this rise?

We are already having discussions on this and I think it can be tackled either by revising the price or the cost of the advertisers will go up.

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