Keeping pace with technology is the huge challenge: Jwalant Swaroop

06 Sep,2011

Mr Jwalant Swaroop, who has more than 26 years of experience in the newspaper industry, has been associated with the Lokmat Media Group since 1992. He recently took charge as the chief operating officer of the group’s publishing and events division, based in Mumbai.

In a freewheeling chat with Ritu Midha, Mr Swaroop talks about topics including new challenges to the newspaper industry, the growth of the regional press, and digital as the next big thing.


How has the newspaper industry evolved in the last decade or so?

The newspaper industry has evolved remarkably in the last ten years, both in mindset and revenues. The approach is futuristic so investments have been made in that direction. Just for numbers sake, the industry has shown robust growth of around 15 percent YOY in advertising revenues and about 10 percent on the circulation front in the last ten years.


Traditional media in markets like India is still growing. Would you say that print players have taken the right steps to take optimum advantage of that and push the medium further?

Yes very much. I think digital is being seen as the most potential transition, there are investments being made and backed with complete will to seize all opportunities. However, it is a long-term view and probably it might take another five years to see the real ROI.


Looking specifically at regional press, do you believe it is poised to grow at a reasonable pace?

It will, of course, as the regional markets growth is pretty robust. Therefore regional press will have its share of growth.


Coming to Marathi media competition is growing intense (what with the launch of Divya Marathi). Do you see it helping in growing the market, or could it fragment the market?

Both. Growth brings fragmentation. It is good, of course, making content the King and the consumer the real Hero.


Moving on to your new role at Lokmat, what are the changes and transformations that you intend to undertake as the COO Publishing?

As a company we are poised for the next orbit of the growth and therefore I need to accelerate that pace and make it happen so that the company is future-ready.


On May 15, 2011 Lokmat saw a content and design change to its product. On August 15, Lokmat Samachar saw a similar makeover. Did they achieve their objectives?

Differentiation and relevance are the key elements of the change, and I am glad that both the makeovers respectively, of Lokmat and Lokmat Samachar, achieved this.


What has been the market response to your Hindi compact daily Lokmat Samachar? Do you think the compact format, like in the west, will have more appeal in future as it is easy to read and handle?

Lokmat Samachar is actually a broadsheeter; the compact is the City News Express (CNX), launched in Aurangabad as a bilingual newspaper. That is doing pretty well, both in terms of advertising and circulation.


Do you think that the regional newspapers are doing enough innovation to gain the attention of the advertisers? What are some of the recent noteworthy innovations?

Unfortunately, innovations by the regional press are not showcased properly. We do everything that can deliver the desired impact to the brand communication. Communities and printing innovations are a regular in thing. We are doing several cross-media promotions for many brands these days. We recently published a 3D issue in Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nasik, Kolhapur, Mumbai, Jalgaon and Pune, which became hugely successful.


Digital is supposed to be the next big thing. Do you think that such a threat would not affect the regional players for a long time as the technology, perhaps, has not percolated to the grassroot levels?

Technology reaches the masses rapidly  faster than anyone can think. The huge challenge is actually to keep pace with it. Digital is reality, and why next big thing it is already a big one. Social media is changing the landscape and fast impacting media consumption patterns, and mobile internet browsing will be the defining medium of the future.


How has the year been so far? And how do you see it panning out for the group?

The early months have been disappointing and I hope, as we go forward, things will be better.



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