‘Print Is Proof’ needs wider collective commitment

24 Apr,2019

 

By Sanjeev Kotnala

 

Sanjeev Kotnala

The coming together print publishers is a rare celestial aberration. However, this is not the first time when some of the largest print houses have got together. We know when they collectively questioned the IRS and hence MRUC some years back. Even at that time, people viewed it as a disturbing disruption, but it led to something good, a better more robust IRS.

In the current era of the voyeuristic audience with limited attention, video-led consumption, social platform-based news sharing necessitating instant gratification, the print is unfairly being treated as a media that has lost its sheen.

May be a bit late, but the Empire is trying to hit back with a simple communication celebrating Print in its regality.

A few weeks back, major print players – Dainik Bhaskar Group,  The Hindu Group, Hindustan Times, The Times of India, released their campaign on owned media. Full-page advertisements shoutig ‘Print is Proof’.

It will be great if the HT campaign ‘Print is the Answer’ or another such campaign can get teeth by print coming together in a heightened B2B initiative.

There is no doubt that print is still the most credible media by a margin. The barrage of fake news and the impulsive sharing of it is something everyone has experienced. I hope that many other print houses bury their hatchet and believe in each other’s intent to join the movement. Even if it may just be doing a post-purchase dissonance correction among the loyalists…

Print proposes and wants the audience to believe that in the fastest-finger-first digital media, tracing the origin of news is a tough proposition. And that only in print the story before it is printed and delivered to you goes through multiple filters and crosschecks.  Unfortunately, the argument is not without holes. And the current generation does not believe the statement print makes: “If we don’t have the facts, we don’t print the news. It’s that simple. For us, the starting point of any story is verification”. Or ‘if a digital story doesn’t check out, it can always be deleted’.

In its current avatar, the new generation feels that print is also as much about sensation, colouring, tinting and or manipulation of news. In the polarised and pressurised ecosystem prevalent in the country, it is foolish to believe that ‘No one edits the editor’. However, a large part of the audience from the print dominant era still believes ‘What’s Printed Is True’.

India is one of the few countries where print still holds its position and continues to grow in circulation.

I would be personally thrilled if the print houses can come together and do a collective correction in cover pricing. It’s much needed. In my view, it will still deliver a better financial position, even if the fringe readers drop out. Print needs it.

Whatever may be their reasons to join the initiative, it needs to continue its momentum. More groups need to join in and help sustain the campaign and widen its reach through multimedia exposure funded by a collective kitty. Being in print alone is not the answer.

Some other print advantages are capabilities to keep the story alive till its natural conclusion, share-and re-share the ground facts and developments, address individual sub-segment differentially and place advertisements contextually. But, just ‘Print is Proof’ may be a weak war cry that can lose steam fast.

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DISCLAIMER: I must confess I have not been able to check if the campaign has a digital, TV and or an outdoor avatar. It will be great if it exists and or the collective takes the initiative in this direction.

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