INMA 2012: ‘News is not static but dynamic’

08 Aug,2012

By Shruti Pushkarna


Sanjay Gupta
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The International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) hosted its 6th annual South Asia conference in New Delhi on August 7. With its theme of ‘Complexity Advantage’, Day 1 of the INMA conference witnessed some power packed sessions.


One such session, ‘The Future of News’, was moderated by Jacob Mathew, Executive Editor, Malayala Manorama and President, WAN-Ifra. The session saw a lively discussion by the two eminent panelists, Mr MJ Akbar, Editorial Director, India Today & Headlines Today and Mr Sanjay Gupta, CEO, Jagran Prakashan Ltd.


The technological innovations and its resultant empowerment of individuals have significantly changed the way people consume news today. Introducing the topic,’The Future of News’, Mr Mathew raised a few key questions: “Would the existing formats be relevant to the future? How will we ensure that news is available anywhere anytime in any format to be consumed by our readers?”


He added that the growth of print has still not been affected as much in South Asia and that the countries in the region should learn from the mistakes made by colleagues in the rest of the world.


MJ Akbar
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Addressing the basic worry around the future of news, Mr Akbar said: “The reason why news will always be in demand is because man is not a hermit. Man lives in a community and in any community, ignorance is the basis of all conflict. Curiosity is elemental to human experience and as long as curiosity remains a vital part, news will thrive.”  He added that news needs a vehicle and that will be provided by news organizations in the future as well.


Mr Akbar alleged that the real problem facing the society today is not the future of news but the future of a ‘journalist’. He pointed out two traps that journalists today increasingly fall into: “One trap is a fish trap where a journalist looks at the bait and swallows it. This trap is a dangerous challenge to credibility of news as this form of journalism is based essentially on what the journalist has ‘heard’. The other trap is delusion trap where the journalist thinks he/she is more important than news.”


Mr Akbar also compared the newspaper to a ‘thali’ which has a variety of food ranging from healthy ‘dal and rice’ to not-so-healthy ‘achaar'(pickle). He said: “No thali is complete without achaar, but on the other hand, achaar cannot replace dal and rice.”


Coming back to the basic point in question of how big a threat does technology pose for the print industry, Mr Akbar said: “No technology completely destroys another. They all continue to exist together. The only thing that will be destroyed in the future will be your business plans which will have to be reoriented.” He added that there is no essential competition between products (radio, TV, newspaper), every product has its own rationale and news organizations have to be ‘format-driven’.


He concluded: “As long as the newsmaker and the news owner understand that news is not static but dynamic, there’s no reason to worry.”


Mr Gupta echoed Mr Akbar’s views and maintained that there will be news as long as there’s society and as long as there are incidents taking place. He said that the new technology does help in uncovering the truth faster and in an easier way sometimes, but the basics of news is to uncover the truth. It is important, he said, that news media engages audience in a public debate over issues that matter.


Mr Gupta added that good journalism is good business and he concluded by quoting Google’s head of news products, Richard Gingras: “The pace of technological change will not abate, and to think of our current time as a transition between two eras, rather than a continuum of change, is a mistake.”


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