Key developments that shaped print media in 2018

While the Indian Readership Survey results gave print media its biggest high in 2018, issues like fake news and paid news marred its credibility at other times

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Dec 24, 2018 8:09 AM

In 2018, print media in India witnessed its fair share of ups and downs. While the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) results gave the print players their biggest high, issues like fake news and paid news raised debates regarding news credibility and the role of print media in addressing it. 

Year 2018 began on a high note when the Indian Readership Survey was released after a hiatus of four years. The results pointed to a 9% growth in total newspaper readership in the last four years. 

The survey also highlighted that the readership for English dailies has increased by 10% in the last four years and touched 2.8 crore, compared to the last IRS figure of 2.5 crore. Meanwhile, the Hindi readership stood at 17.6 crore, up 45% from 12.1 crore, as released by IRS 2014. 

According to Anant Nath, Director, Delhi Press and Editor of The Caravan, the new IRS survey was one of the biggest highlights of 2018 and reiterated the reach and strength of the print media in the digital age. 

“The release of the Indian Readership Survey after a gap of almost four years was one of the biggest highlights of the year. The new IRS reiterated the reach and strength of print in the digital age. Most publications have shown a substantial rise in their numbers, and overall as a medium, it has remained resilient,” Nath said. 

According to Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, “The most defining moment for print in 2018 was not due to its own making but instead due to the undoing of digital media. The digital media drew flak as it placed advertising in digital books along with companies the brands did not want to be seen with. This prompted advertisers and global MNCs to respect the value of print.”

The print players also witnessed some big debates around issues concerning fake news and paid news. The I&B ministry even proposed stringent punishment for journalists disseminating “fake news”. However, the order was rolled back eventually. 

The rise of the issue of fake news might have become shrill in 2018, but it impacted digital more than the print shares, said Bijoor.  

“The fact that digital media was full of fake news, hate and vitriol further deepened the trust in print, which is a curated medium, as opposed to the anarchy of digital micro broadcasts. These were indeed print's moments of reflected glory,” he added. 

According to veteran journalist and Padma Shri Alok Mehta, the rise of regional media players to the top of the print pyramid has been the biggest highlight of 2018. “In my opinion, the report released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) proves that circulation of print media has increased by millions and Hindi dailies have managed to reach the top spot. Also, defence deals from Rafale to Agusta created new waves in the media and generated awareness among a large number of readers. Normally, defence does not receive such attention.” 

“I wish and hope that in 2019 defence and judiciary will open more doors and windows for the media,” he added.
From the advertisement standpoint too, print players benefitted from the IRS numbers and the faith in the reach of print. The regional media, especially, witnessed a sharp rise. 

Even the Pitch-Madison 2018 report, which was released earlier this year, had predicted a good growth for the print media. The report had stated: “In 2018, the print advertising market is expected to grow by 5% to come close to Rs 20,000 crore, with regional publications leading the growth.

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