Published On: Tue, Aug 30th, 2016

Media will face a crisis of existence in a decade

13879273_10208004015412729_6711960135217082348_nBy Rajendra Pratap Gupta
The world is going digital, and this is not just about changing reading habits , it is also about the changing business landscape . We need to look at this ‘digitization’ more deeply .
On June 5th2016, we saw the news that, now the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) — an independent body that provides audited newspaper and magazine circulation — is foraying into the measurement of digital properties, to track audience in the online space.This is going to create the biggest shakeup in the media industry. If people are spending more time online, the money will follow there andso, print media will either have to evolve new business models or face crisis of existence. Also, it means that the advertisement spends will now be in the hands of American giants like Google , Facebook etc. This is cause of serious concern .

Let us look at some more facts about how this evolution is taking place

One of the top global magazines;Newsweek, after 80 years, ended its print edition in Dec 2012. This signaled the direction to where the print media is headed about three years ago

Also, Let us take the case of book stores; Barnes & Nobles, Borders and Amazon.

Barnes & Nobles was the largest book store in the world in 1997 (19 years ago) and at one time,Barnes and Noble and Borders controlled 25 % of the book market. But now, Barnes & Nobles (which started in 1886-130 years ago), is making losses and the valuations have dropped to USD 719 million. Also, Borders went out of business last year after being in business for 45 years. Amazon which started as a book store in 1994, 22 years ago, is valued at USD 88 billion. The industry went upside down in the past two decades, and we even don’t need a publisher now…. times are changing andthe message is clear

Changing Role of Media: The Political dimension:Media is now not just a platform, it is a tool

If you wish to fight an MLA election in Uttar Pradesh next year, you need to have 25000 followers online to seek an election ticket

Also, over the past few years, we have seen that the government policies were withdrawn due to the ‘hue and cry’ in social media. So, the online / digital media has a new veto power in politics

Politicians are now reaching out to the audience via twitter and providing relief.The online media is also personalized and interactive, and delivers on the target.This is flipping the power in the hands of the consumer

Social media is very important for politicians as not only,it connects them to their audience, it amplifies their reach, knowledge and impact

Old media could cover news and the new media has the power to create news. This makes it a great tool

My personal experience:How media has changed personally for me? I stopped reading the print newspapers a few months ago,because;

1. During my travels , the news papers would pile up in my study and it was tough to catch up with the unread newspapers
2. With online newspapers ,I can forward ( email ) or save important news
3. I can read when I am traveling and news from any part of the world in any part of the world
4. Also, it is updated live … I don’t have to wait for my newspaper vendor to come late or bring a wet newspaper during rains,and wait for the magazine to come every fortnight or month, when I need and can read the news instantly
5. I can comment and put forth my views. So, the old media is passive media and the new media is active and interactive …. It makes sense to be using new media. Digital media has an edge over the traditional print media
6. Above all, It is free

The new age mediais bottoms up and not top down. You can ‘buy’ the new age media ..‘Trending’ will size you up
Also, the new media is smaller and crisper. I don’t have to read the entire news, I can read the headline and go into the content based on my interest
I believe that in the next few years, twitter will become a news-channel or newspaper, and so will your TV transition into live app on phone, or Youtube may make way for multiple TV channels. The media world will change faster than we can think

Media has evolved from being a newsmaker to career maker and a policy maker
The flip side of the new media is same as old age media … it is getting over crowded too fast. Luckily, it is asset-light to withstand balance sheet pressures

Now, the ‘virtual’ world Is the ‘real world’, and at this time, digital media is complementing the print media but in the near future, it has the potential to replace it, andwe cannot rule out its progression from prominence to dominance in the next few years
Digital is successful because of ‘edge’ and not ‘age’ and those who do not take corrective steps, will face a crisis of relevance and existence both

(Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a leading public policy expert. Views are personal )

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