Believe in organic growth in news while ratings should be a by-product: Sudhir Chaudhary

Editor-in-Chief at Zee News, Chaudhary, says the biggest challenge in the news industry today is credibility and countering fake news

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Feb 20, 2020 3:21 PM


Sudhir Chaudhary Zee News

In the game of TRPs and maximum revenue, news dissemination and consumption patterns have changed tremendously.  Digitisation has set the pace of the industry with technological evolutions adding newer avenues of news consumption. Television journalism has gone through a series of changes and now become instrumental in shaping viewers’ opinions.

Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief at Zee News talks to us about changing news consumption patterns, digitisation of news, technological disruptions, news trends setting the pace of 2020 and more.

Edited Excerpts:-

What are the biggest changes newsrooms have seen in 2019? Any disruption that you would want to talk about?

2019 was a very exciting year. As far as news is concerned we had not just news heavy weeks, but months. We had so many events like Balakot, the General Elections, revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir and others.  It was a very exciting year and full of news.

The biggest challenge in the newsrooms was how to counter fake news. One of the greatest challenges now is not just to cater to the news or the packaging of news but also to verify the news. So, a big difference is that now we have multiple sources of information. Information is just flowing from everywhere and we have much more unverified sources and unverified news. The competition is tough. People want to break all sort of news whether they're verified or not. It is becoming extremely difficult now to filter the news as the volume is so much.

Digitisation of news is another major disruption. People are divided on various screens for the consumption of news.

Better and bigger use of technology is also of paramount importance. With newer technologies booming every day, news consumption patterns are also evolving.

 At a time when digital media is seeing huge growth, do you think it is a threat to TV news channels?

In my opinion, digital media is not a threat to TV news channels. All the forms of dissemination of news will co-exist in the system and add value to the viewers' lives. Digital has become another medium to facilitate the consumption of news.

 2019 was a news heavy year where news viewership sometimes exceeded that of GEC offerings. What were the three biggest news pieces that Zee network ran in 2019?

Zee ran a lot of important news last year.  But, in my view, Kathua Rape case was the biggest investigative news story that Zee covered in 2019. We saved the life of a youth from being falsely implicated in that case. The abrogation of Article 370 and the CAA-NRC coverage were also amongst the biggest news coverages.

A lot of technology is being introduced in television journalism, for instance, MoJo and others. What kind of technological integration do you have in your newsrooms?

At Zee, we have started an initiative called “Integrated Multimedia Newsroom (IMN)” to change the workflow of the newsroom.  So, it acts like a common kitchen, where we are producing content, which is ready to go on air, on TV, on digital, social media, long format, short format, radio, print, everything. So the same team is catering to digital, to print to TV, and to other formats and long format and short form, depending on the viewers and the results of consumption of news.

Second, we are going beyond boundaries through our international channel, WION. We are connected to almost every part of the world. So, the news is becoming more and more technology-based.  Everybody is using Mojo kits and so are we. The bigger and heavier equipment have been replaced by lighter, mobile equipment which have made the work easier and faster.

Tell us a little bit about how busy 2020 will be in terms of news as compared to 2019. Any major disruption are you expecting in TV journalism in 2020?

2020 will be even bigger and exciting as compared to 2019. News is going to become even more important than ever. People are becoming opinionated. They don't want to see or consume just the news, or the breaking news. They want opinions. I believe more and more people will hook on to news channels. The number of news is getting bigger and larger, day by day. So I believe in 2020 is going to be even a heavier year than 2019.

Speaking about the future, I feel that as we are moving ahead in times, the credibility of news is declining. People are losing reliance on news channels. This is mainly because of 2 reasons; first is declining credibility in the bid to win maximum TRPs and second is the agenda based journalism. News channels have to combat these two hazards in order to do the right kind of journalism and fulfil their duties as the fourth pillar of democracy.

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