The race against the clock for survival has forced the newspaper industry to adapt with the digital transformation. Digital platforms demand a change in pattern in the dissemination of news, starting from the writing style to its circulation. Unlike newspapers, where news editions could bring a detailed report on any event, digital platforms welcome an edition that is a crispier yet informative piece of news stories, catering to serve the needs of the e-readers.
If we dig a little more into the reasons for this affected distribution chain, we will be able to understand that with the advent of COVID19 pandemic and nation-wide lockdown brought a dreadful situation in front of the newspaper industry. Frightened with the rumors, the physical process of newspaper delivery was largely stopped by the readers.
“March onwards, my family and other people in our apartment stopped taking newspapers. My husband subscribed to an online news portal, and till now we are not willing to take newspapers at all. My neighbors in this housing society also stopped taking the newspapers from the vendors even after they renewed their subscription, as we all are frightened that newspapers might carry the virus,” shares a reader from Akshara Swiss Court, Barisha.
Also, the advent of e-paper at discounted subscription rates have accelerated the downward curve of physical newspapers. “We started our paperless edition of the magazine in 2016, and this was welcomed by many of our readers. Our magazine is also popular internationally, especially in South Korea. We have an app called News Beat Media, which is free to download from Play Store where readers can view and download all our editions from 2016 to 2020. We also have our YouTube channels, where we cover a wide range of news,” says Mr. Kunal Roy Chowdhury, co-founder and director of News Beat Media.
But how far is it feasible for the readers across all age groups to read these e-publications? Even though the young generation is constantly shifting towards new media for staying updated with current affairs, the aged people are not. It is tough for them to adjust with the new normal way of reading news, shifting from the traditional way of reading newspapers with a cup of tea in the morning.
“It is tough for me to read the words in my touch screen mobile phone, so I had to stick to physical copies of newspapers even during this pandemic situation,” shares a senior citizen from Behala, Kolkata.
“I had to shift my source of news from print media to audio-visual. Now, I watch TV in the morning around 8 to 8.30 am to listen to the news, while doing the household chores,” added another senior citizen, from Behala.
The advent of digitization and adaptation of e-paper might have saved the media industry, but the newspaper vendors are left in the lurch.
“We are still not allowed to enter many housing societies in and around Behala. Already, the young generation is not in favour of reading physical copies of newspapers, but with the advent of COVID19, there is a huge reduction in our customer count. Earlier, there were subscription offers from big media houses like ABP, but now business is not as before and the selling of newspaper copies, especially English dailies, dropped considerably,” mentions Raja Das, a newspaper vendor in Kolkata.
Monitoring the sale of the physical copies of books from bookshops, it has been noticed that there is a massive reduction in the purchasing power of the consumers across the city. “Very few people are buying books, but those who visit our shop definitely buy, so we are trying to pave our way on digital sale of books and so that readers can order books from our website and also from Amazon, to remain in business,” shared a storekeeper at Oxford Book Store, Park Street.
With terrifying rumors, discounted price and free availability of news online, the unorganized labour sector of newspaper vendors is facing a grim situation and is trying everything it can to remain afloat in the struggle for existence