What is happening to News?

02 Sep

A. Newspapers in India

1. One of the happier features of today’s India is its print media. There are roughly 62,000 newspapers in India. According to the National Readership Study 2006, the print media is enjoying a robust growth. The number of papers sold daily in India rose 33 percent during 2001 to 2006. The circulation of the dailies grew by 12.6 million during the year and reached 203.6 million by the end of year 2006. India is one of the few countries in the world where newspaper readership is soaring.

2. The 2006 National Readership Survey findings show the largest growth rate was in the local language newspapers. The circulation figures for Dainik Jagaran stood at 21.2 million while that of Dainik Bhasker was 21.0 million, both published in Hindi. The Times of India the most widely read English newspaper (7.9 million) was followed by The Hindu (4.05 million) and Hindustan times (3.85 million). The upsurge in India’s newspaper market is due in part to the government’s change of policy in 2002 and to a growth in advertising business. This boom corresponds with more supplements, travel and lifestyle magazines being produced to meet the demands of a more prosperous and inquisitive society. In addition, there are currently 300 television channels and their number could increase by 30% next year, say up to 400.

It is estimated there is still a significant scope for growth of print media, as there are 359 million people who can read and understand the language but do not read any publication. Of this 359 million, 68 per cent read Hindi.

3. All this exuberance is a heart-warming sight for newspaper publishers in India. In most countries, sales and profits of dailies have been declining for years, a slide hastened by a surge of fresh competition from the Internet and TV. That is the reason , as the  newspaper boom rages in India, investors and media executives across the world are looking for a way to penetrate what is probably the world’s last great newspaper market. A growth in the readership is supported by India’s other strengths viz. a vital economy and a democratic culture to make it a serious rival to China for the attention of global media investors.

4.“The growth prospects of India’s newspaper publishing industry are phenomenal, especially when one considers the rising trend in disposable incomes and the direct bearing that will have on readership ” said Naresh Kumar Garg, who manages $49 million, including shares of Jagran Prakashan, at Sahara Asset Management Co. in Mumbai. “Higher disposable incomes mean more advertising.” Relaxed foreign media ownership laws in newspapers in particular have led to more investment from overseas.  Advertising revenues have grown significantly and they cross subsidize the low sale prices of Indian newspapers. Newspapers grabbed 46% of the $2.6 billion spent on advertising in all Indian media last year.

5. An American media person remarked, “Watching the Indian newspaper scene is like taking a trip in a time machine to early 20th century America, when newspapers ruled life and politics. Sales of most Indian newspapers are increasing, and advertising is soaring.” Which in other words mean that down the next decade or so the Indian newspapers may have to grapple with a set of problems that US print media is now trying to come to terms with.

It is better India be aware of the snares that lie ahead, because eventually it will have to contend with those problems. Those are related to the growth in technology and change in financial structures.

Well, what is the state of Newspapers in US today?


B. Newspapers in US today

1. Warren Buffett, the US billionaire remarked,” The newspaper business is bad and getting worse.” While the Newspaper stocks overseas rose 25 percent on average in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, U.S. newspaper shares, by contrast, fell an average of 9.9 percent because   of readers’ shift to the Internet cut into circulation.

2. Daily circulation for newspapers in the U.S. fell 30 percent to 43.7 million in September 2006 from 62.3 million in 1985, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, a U.S. industry group. The Russell 3000 Publishing Newspapers Index, which tracks 11 companies, slid 37 percent since its peak in 2004.  The average international newspaper stock fetches 35 times earnings, while the Russell index of U.S. newspaper companies has a price- earnings ratio of 20.7.

3. “Almost all newspaper owners realize that they are constantly losing ground in the battle for eyeballs,” Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman, wrote in his annual letter to shareholders published March 1. “If cable and satellite broadcasting, as well as the Internet, had come along first, newspapers as we know them probably would never have existed.”

4. “The U.S. is a much more saturated market in terms of the media industry,” said Zhao Zifeng, who oversees the equivalent of $1.1 billion at China International Fund Management Co. in Shanghai . “But in China , we have much more room for development .” The firm owned 2.6 million shares of Chengdu B-Ray Media as of Dec. 31. Investors seeking growth have to look outside the U.S.

5. The newspaper growth rate is in turn related to the growth rate of the economy. As per  the International Monetary Fund forecast, India’s economy will expand 8.4 percent this year, while China will grow at 9.9 percent. In the U.S., growth will amount to 2.4 percent.

In the U.S., newspaper companies will attract investors if they can develop compelling Web sites that ensures they capture readers who give up print editions, said Rogers.  That model has already worked for Schibsted in Norway, said Shrager. The company’s shares have risen 51 percent in the past year, while Independent News is up 41 percent.  “If you get stuck into one mode without reacting, then things are going to turn against you,” said Shrager


PBS, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, a non–profit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation’s 354 public television stations, telecast a set of four programs during Feb 2007 tracing the History of American journalism. The program was telecast in India during the last week of June 2007 by Australia network .I found the Part Three of News war (What is happening to the news?) , most interesting.

Please check the following link to view online the full series. Please also read the highly interesting discussions that follow. .


C. News War

The following in brief are some of the points made out by the program:

1.Change in the ownership pattern

* In the earlier years, eminent families owned the major newspapers like LA Times, NY Times and Washington Post. They while enjoying the prestige of owning a major Newspaper were satisfied with moderate profits. In recent years, family newspapers in cities such as Los Angeles and St Louis have been sold to out-of-state owners. Now the ownership of the papers has moved into the public domain, which in turn means that the stock markets own the newspapers.

** The newspapers in USA usually show a net profit of slightly over 20 percent that is double the rate returned by a Fortune 500 company. It is a very good rate of return. For instance, LA Times grossed about US$ one billion and made a net of US$200 million. Showing a decent profit on an annual basis was not, therefore, the major problem. However, to keep chasing the profit graphs quarter after quarter and post higher and higher profits each quarter to satisfy the stock traders was becoming a nerve-racking task. In short, present is not a problem but the future surely is a threat. In order to keep happy their faceless masters the newspapers cut costs by economizing on the production, marketing and even in the news rooms by downsizing the staff strength. In the process, the reporter on the street who investigated, verified, gathered, and reported the news was served the layoff notice.

2.Fall in advertising revenues

More than 70 percent of a newspaper’s revenue comes from advertising. With the internet spreading into all aspects of life those hunting for houses, used cars, jobs, antiques etc. increasingly resort to internet to search for those items than to run through the classifieds. There is therefore a serious loss in the revenue from the classifieds.

3. News over internet

Internet sites like Google, Yahoo etc. collate news items from newspapers and post them on their web pages. They are not gathering news from the field but are recycling news gathered by the newspaper reporters. The web sites make use of the news gathered by the newspapers.
One interesting question that keeps coming up repeatedly is “Who is going to pay for the news”.

4. International News Vs. Local News

The content of the newspaper is a huge issue. Why does an ordinary person buy newspaper? Is it to find out what is happening in Iraq or to learn what is happening in his neighbourhood or town?

It is not that the internet is “stealing” the readers, or that people are not interested in these issues, it is that these issues are not covered or are covered poorly by the newspapers. Cutting staff will not solve the problem it will only make it worse

There is an argument that newspapers attempt to cater to all needs of all readers. In an attempt to be everything to everybody, there is much more in there than the average reader needs. As a result, the average reader looks only at a proportion of the paper, with the rest being tossed unread. Some buy it just for the news, and toss the rest. Others buy it for the sports, and toss the rest. And so on.

Where do we draw the line? Should we have newspapers, with different “flavors”, each with a different price point? Let us say: 1. a short stripped down version containing only need to know news; 2. a longer, news/op-ed version, focusing on news and analysis; 3. a longer lifestyle version, light on news, heavy on all the other features and departments.; and 4. The traditional version for those who still want it all and are willing to pay for it.

Will it help matters if , say, three newspapers function as international newspapers and the rest concentrate only on local news (hyper localization).

5. Bloggers as journalists.

Anyone who reports a happening is a journalist. Anyone who posts an event on his blog page is a citizen journalist. With the phenomenal increase in Bloggers, there is an explosion of journalists. Do we need specialists who report to newspapers and pursue that as a career?

How far can the bloggers go in this direction? Anyone with a camera, a phone and a laptop may be able to record, but do they have the background knowledge and history to make a proper assessment. Does that person even know whether or not something is new or news? What happens if that person makes a mistake in their reporting? Are there fact checkers? What happens when students, researching papers relies on this news-lite? How do we deal with sensitive issues such as libel and slander? What separates the professional journalists from Joe American the blogger who slanders people online and puts erroneous information on the Web without bothering to check and see if it is accurate?


D. What is happening to the news?

Those were some of the issues that emanated from the presentation and the discussions that followed.

Before you view the on-line videos please read the summary of the part three of News War entitled “what is happening to the news?” given below.


In part three of “News War,” entitled “What’s Happening to the News, ” FRONTLINE examines the mounting pressure for profits faced by America’s network news divisions and daily newspapers, as well as growing challenges from cable television and the Internet. Bergman talks to network executives, newspaper editors and publishers, bloggers, Wall Street analysts and key players at Google and Yahoo! about the battle for market dominance in a rapidly changing world.

Bergman examines one of the biggest challenges facing the traditional news media: As their core audience grows older, the number of viewers and readers who want their news in a conventional format is shrinking. According to a study by New YorkUniversity, a majority of Americans under age 25 get their news online or from programs like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. “To the extent that people look to us as a source of news,” says David Javerbaum, The Daily Show‘s executive producer, “that is 100 percent indicative of other people’s failure and not our success.” While the broadcast news networks still command the largest share of the market, they are losing viewers and advertising revenue to cable.

To stop this slide in ratings, network executives are making changes that have rankled some top news anchors. When ABC executives proposed bringing in Late Show with David Letterman from CBS to replace Nightline on ABC, host Ted Koppel decided not to renew his contract. “To the extent that we are now judging journalism by the same standards that we apply to entertainment,” says Koppel, “that may prove to be one of the greatest tragedies in the history of American journalism.”

“What’s Happening to the News” also goes inside the embattled newsroom of the Los Angeles Times, one of the few U.S. newspapers still covering major national stories. After his newsroom had already lost hundreds of jobs, managing editor Dean Baquet was told to lay off more reporters by the paper’s owner, the Tribune Company. He refused and was fired. “The people who own newspapers … are beholden to shareholders,” Baquet tells FRONTLINE. “They want for the paper to be highly profitable, and sometimes that view of what a newspaper is supposed to be and my view, which is that a newspaper is a public trust, sometimes they come into conflict.” Charles Bobrinskoy, vice chairman at top Tribune investor Ariel Capital Management in Chicago, says the L.A. Times needs to rethink its mission. “There is a role for probably three national newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today. Each has its own niche; all three are national newspapers. We don’t think there’s any demand for a fourth.”

An even greater challenge to both newspapers and broadcast networks is the growing power of the Internet as a news distribution platform, pulling consumers and advertisers away from more traditional media. Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes, talks about CBS’s partnership with Yahoo! News. “We haven’t seen the model for how broadcast journalism is going to end up on the Internet,” he says. “But … it has to go there. I mean, you don’t see anybody between 20 and 30 getting their news from the evening news; you see them getting it online.”

But Internet news aggregators like Yahoo! and Google say that they are not in the business of creating content, relying instead on traditional news-gathering organizations. “We’re in fact critically dependent upon the success of these newspapers,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, referring to the Los Angeles Times and others. “We don’t write the content. We’re not in the content business. So anything that screws up their economics, that causes them to get rid of reporters, is a really bad thing.”

If not newspapers, who will create content for the Internet news aggregators? Markos Moulitsas writes Daily Kos, one of the country’s most popular blogs, which reportedly receives 3 to 5 million visitors per week. “People want to be part of the media,” Moulitsas tells FRONTLINE. “They don’t want to sit there and listen anymore. They’re too educated. They’re taught … to be go-getters and not to sit back and be passive consumers. And the traditional media is still predicated on the passive consumer model — you sit there and watch.”

But is this journalism? Former Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll worries that without the investigative skills of newspaper reporters, an important element of newsgathering may be lost. “I estimate … that 85 percent of the original reporting that’s done in the United States is done by newspapers. They’re the people who are going out and knocking on doors and rummaging through records and covering events and so on. And most of the other media that provide news to people are really recycling news that’s gathered by newspapers.”

The fourth hour of “News War” is called ” Stories from a Small Planet” and is produced by FRONTLINE/World. It looks at media around the globe to reveal the international forces that influence journalism and politics in the United States. The lead story investigates the new Arab media and its role in both mitigating and exacerbating the clash between the West and Islam. Focusing on Al Jazeera and its impact on the parochial and tightly controlled Arab media, this report explores the network’s growing influence, from Muslim communities in Europe to the pending launch of a new English-language broadcast in the United States.

home  + introduction + watch online + interview,9171,1106460,00.html 

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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in General Interest


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