In a recent interview post by ContentSutra, The Hindu‘s Editor-in-chief, N. Ram spoke about some interesting pointers about the industry which is showing slowdown worldwide but fortunately showing good growth in India. He touched on the topics like How The Hindu is coping with the recent slowdown, How The Times of India‘s entry into Chennai has affected his daily, and most importantly his new media strategy. What I want to present here are excerpts from that interview about how subtly he might be showing us a trend in print media.

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Following is a question that was being asked to him and his response below. On the question, what are the Hindu’s new-media efforts? Do you see a future in that direction?

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He replied (catch the highlighted bold text):

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We are in a good position because our old media is still growing. And growing quite healthily, until this (economic slowdown) happened. I think we have probably 3-5 years—may be less, but that is my perspective—to get it right on the new media front, to find the balance between print and new media.

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Whether mobile telephony, which has taken off hugely in India, will provide a credible platform for news? I don’t know. I definitely use it. Can it scale up? I don’t know. Whether journalism can do well on that platform? I don’t know.

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Internet penetration in India is not even close to a stage when you feel cannibalization (of print) will occur. That gives you some comfort.

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I’m very pleased with the present situation, when print is still growing, and you can do as much or as little as you want on the Internet. When Internet penetration reaches, say, 200 million users, then the game might change. But even then, where’s the revenue model?

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I don’t know about what you guys are thinking but the way I perceive is quite simple – Confusion! And rightfully so since internet ad dollars can’t be the single point revenue engine for an elephantine newspaper/print industry. Also adding to the misery is the internet population of India which clearly stands not more than 5-6% of the total population.

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So where does all this lead?

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Though prediction is something which easier to do than walking-the-talk but as Ram pointed out that in next 3-5 years when India’s internet populace will hit around 200 million (which now is around 30 million -according to ComScore), things are going to change for sure. How it’s going to change is hard to predict but yes, few things can be predicted:

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1. Internet will become an ubiquitious medium when penetration increases.

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2. With growing mobile & internet usage, information won’t be capsized to a small mass. So authenticity and transparency will rise with time and users will want more control.

3. Along with that advertisers will ask for buck for buck and get hold off where and how those ad dollars are being used.

So what are your thoughts on the same? Do you see the dollars shifting from traditional to new media in your industry? My interactions have given me enough fillers to say that it has already started shifting (but slowly). So what are you experiences on that? Would love to hear from you guys…

Image courtesy: nimboo

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