Das ka Dum with Dr Bhaskar Das: Given IRS2019Q4 findings, do you think it’s true that lesser number of people are reading newspapers? And have newspaper publishers been complacent?

11 May,2020

Bhaskar DasThe writing was on the wall and now the latest Indian Readership Survey findings confirms it: that print is declining in India. We asked Dr Bhaskar Das, who is a print media veteran, on his views given the report. Presenting the May 11 edition of Das Ka Dum. Read on…

 

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Q. The new IRS numbers are out, and we now have data for all four quarters of 2019. While a deep dive may show a more nuanced result for some publications, the broad findings (as per the MRUC deck) say that newspaper readership has de-grown. I have two small questions:

1. Do you think the findings are true – that newspaper readership has de-grown? Let me put it in a different way: do you think lesser number of people are reading newspapers?

2. Do you think newspaper publishers are to be blamed for being complacent?

 

A. a) The meta principle of any research: the findings are indicative, and not exhaustive. Hence, there is no scope of  contemplating that findings are true or not. Secondly, if number of readers is not growing, it must be a dominant pattern from the sample. In fact,  if one observes, one would notice that the younger generation is accessing news more online/ real-time. So news consumption is still high. Consumption methods are varied depending on the demographic/ social cohort one represents. If future research encompasses news consumption across devices and formats, one might get a better indication of news consumer and their ever-evolving preferences.

 

b) It’s not about complacency. From hindsight, it’s easy to be critical. Whatever strategy publishers have followed has worked. The proof is that print was the largest medium in terms of investment by advertisers. As in the case of every strategy, its shelf life expires. If research trends are indicating a definite pattern interrruption, it may be the right time to calibrate a renewal strategy for news in general and formats of delivery in particular.

 

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