The story of the sudden sale of The Washington Post to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P Bezos, earlier this month, does not denote the death of newspapers, but is actually a healthy sign that shows the media industry is undergoing a transition, said Earl J Wilkinson, CEO of the International News Media Association (INMA) which has presence in 82 countries.
Wilkinson was speaking at the 7th INMA South Asian conference held in New Delhi, which was attended by top CEOs, editors of Indian newspapers and delegates from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Europe and the US. He spoke extensively on key issues impacting print and digital media in South Asia.
“Indian media has a tendency to compare itself with the West. But the truth is, India is not America 20 years ago, and will not be like the USA 20 years hence. There’s a lot Americans can learn from this country. In fact, India is where I point America to when we talk about innovation in print media,” he added.
The conference, under the theme “Print: Thriving in the Age of Digital”, saw attending CEOs and editors discuss the dynamics of the industry and where India fits amidst global trends. Opportunities and threats facing media companies in the wake of current economic conditions was also highlighted in the discussions.
“In the consumer’s mind every news media has a role: the newspaper remains the trusted elder, the Personal Computer a sage, the mobile phone the lover and the tablet a wizard. As media people, we should focus on using different media to reach out to our consumers,” said Arunabh Das Sharma, INMA, South Asia Director.
“The newspaper industry in the West declined not because people didn’t want to read the papers, but a wrong decision on the part of big media companies to focus their energies on the Internet. But now they are realising that print is here to stay,” Wilkinson said.
The Washington Post, during the announcement of its sale to Bezos, had pointed at “the rise of the Internet” which had “created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies... triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties.”
“But in India, the story is different,” said Jacob Mathew, Executive Editor of Malayala Manorama. “In a country that’s witnessing a literacy and technological boom at the same time, using technology may become important, but good content will always remain the king. As long as we are focused on meaningful journalism and incisive and engaging storytelling, papers will continue to be the harbingers of trust they always were,” he said.