News Next 2020: It’s not yet time to write the obituary for TV news in India: Navika Kumar
At News Next Conference 2020, Navika Kumar, Group Editor, Politics, Times Network, spoke about how TV news channels have been adapting to the changing requirements of audiences
Is television news dying? If not, then how is it surviving the competition from digital media? According to Navika Kumar, Group Editor, Politics, Times Network, in India, television news cannot be written off the book anytime soon.
Talking elaborately on how television news channels have changed themselves over time to adapt to the changing audience requirements, Kumar put out an interesting perspective on news on TV at the News Next Conference 2020 held in Delhi on Saturday.
“Our biggest enemy is the remote control. People surf and flip through channels and that is the reason why your news should be different from what others are offering,” said Kumar.
The Group Editor, Politics, Times Network, said she didn’t want to ignore the growing power of digital media but thinks TV news is also adapting to the needs of people and is not ready to be forgotten by the audience.
Talking about how digital was growing, Kumar said, “Many people have talked about the fact that digital is going to take over TV in a little while from now and news as we know it on television is going to change forever. Every media house is spending more and more time and resources in getting their own websites up with full of long form, original news, clips from TV news in smaller formats et al and these offerings are only growing. The number of internet homes in India are about 150 million and about 350 million to 400 million social media users. Clearly that is the medium that is going to come in because people are on the move and people want news in smaller and shorter formats. This is the way we are all trying to do it now. However, I don’t think we can write off television news in India as it may have happened in some of the developed countries. It is not yet time to write the obituary for TV news in India.”
According to Kumar, in India there is still a huge chunk of people who communicate when someone is talking to them. “The whole process of understanding news and that of disseminating news and engaging with your audience and how well you do it is something that keeps people glued to the TV,” she explained.
News has become the best reality TV, Kumar said. “People like listening to stories. It is part of our culture. From the times of Amar Chitra Katha we are fond of the entire process of story-telling and listening. Story telling is something that has been on and will go on. The only thing we journalists should do is to keep changing ourselves and adapting ourselves to the changing requirements of our audience,” Kumar said.
“When I do my news hour debate in the evening, I know that no one is going to watch a 50 minute TV programme but we are aware that some parts of the entire show might go viral. An interesting exchange between two panellists on my show gets instant views in millions when put up on digital media and it keeps growing. So digital is a medium where we have to be present and be smart about what we are presenting,” she added.
Kumar further said that news during the day is generally development-based and in the evening it is more like an edit page of newspaper where we debate and argue and reason out. The whole process repeats itself in the next morning. In between, we are making crisper versions of this news for other mediums. So news is something that is never going to go out of fashion. But there are 402 channels and we have to be smart enough to format our news in a manner that we stand out and the basic rule of getting that right is to get news that is full of data or information that is not available to all. The core of good news is in the news itself and how well you add value to it.”
Kumar signed off on the note that if one does good work it is recognized in due time and as a journalist the biggest test is to make sense to viewers every time they present news to them.
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