Das ka Dum with Dr Bhaskar Das: The fears of newspapers carrying Covid-19 virus has been a big blow to an already beleaguered media domain. Do you think this could lead to the eventual demise of print?

27 Mar,2020

Bhaskar DasThe question says it all. So what does newsmedia veteran Dr Bhaskar Das think about it. We took a break from a soft Friday question and asked the question on the print media as part of our Das Ka Dum series. Read on…


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Q. There are many people in our cities who are stopping to buy newspapers because of the fear that the papers could be carriers of the Covid-19 virus. In fact in Mumbai, newspapers have had to temporarily stop printing because of issues that vendors had. It’s a big blow to an already beleaguered media domain. Do you think this could lead to the eventual demise of print? Or is too early to write the epitaph?


A. I doubt if there is any conclusive evidence to suggest that newspapers are possible  carriers of the Covid-19 virus. I also doubt that subscribers have discontinued newspapers on this ground in a large scale. From this point of view, the question is speculative and any observation would be grossly skewed. Having said that, the trigger for picking up a newspaper reader is very distinct and the stickiness to its content is determined by the intellectual curiosity of an individual and to make sense of an information clutter all around them.


I doubt the current disruption in the distribution in many parts of the city is harbinger to the ultimate demise of print as many soothsayers have been predicting but the reality hasn’t followed the trajectory. I think the pandemic-led discontinuity is more a bend, than an end. But it would be prudent that publishers reimagine their way forward strategy on news, rather than on the paper. It can be an opportunity if the mindset is ready for an infinite game. The same game is being played by New York Times. It can be a different country, different topography of competition but the choices they have made helped them dominate the news market again. Markets write the epitaph. Corporates gloss over signals.


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