How New News Is Challenging Old News In India

Posted on May 31, 2012



What does the word ‘news’ mean to you? What’s happening in the world right now? Instant information? Or something to read when you get chance…? In India, new news sources are challenging the long established daily newspapers which have been the love of India for decades.

On a trip to India a couple of years ago, I spoke at GoaFest, Asia’s preeminent Advertising and Marketing Conference. During my presentation I showcased examples of work my agency StrawberryFrog was doing in the US and in Europe such as the branded App Hello Baby for Pampers, which had been created for the birth of Apple’s very own iPad. The reaction from several in the audience was that India was different than other markets, and that digital, social media and mobile were a long way from coming anywhere near traditional media. India after all is perhaps the only country on earth where new newspapers continue to be launched.

A lot has happened in a short time in In India. Now, there’s a new movement underway to bring the news to the masses. Whilst the world at large turns to the internet for its daily fix of up-to-the-minute, real-time headlines, in India it’s the morning newspaper which has long been the source of what’s happening ‘right now’.

And so there’s the problem of course – it’s not ‘right now’ because by the time the paper hits the stands, the news is old news and things have moved on. In fact, when you think about it, any news as soon as it’s published – in whatever form – instantly becomes stale because stories develop and change over time. But that’s not the only limitation. Paper publication doesn’t allow for any interaction at all between editorial and readership.

SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 02:  An attendee holds t...

(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

But Firstpost.com aims to change India’s preference for the paper by breaking the news as it happens to a generation who think the iPad 2 feels better in the hand than inked newsprint to read a day after the news breaks. It’s also attracting some heavy advertising hitters such as Hyundai. It’s the dawn of the digital news age – and so far, a year after the launch, people are switching onto the benefits. Now they can comment on the stories, share them instantly, participate in what’s happening and simply get involved. Combined with news analysis, blogs and natural social media interaction, it’s little wonder that Firstpost has already attracted over 160,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and over 28,000 followers on Twitter and rising. Technology has helped Firstpost leapfrog the established brands, but more the brand reflects the spirit of next generation names which are more attractive to the rising generation than the brands that defined earlier eras. The same is true of course in the US and in Europe, where the same kind of innovative brands are seizing the high ground from long established players.

But like in life so too in commerce, I for one would not count out the established players. They are rising to the challenge as well. And some carry extraordinary weight. But like in advertising where the big corporate agencies such as BBDO and WPP are still around, they do have a lot more competition today than they did just a short time ago. New technology flattens the playing field. New challengers force everyone to run faster and worker differently…and in the end they change the game and moreover the business model.

So if this is what’s happening in a country where the morning paper has always been the trusted media, what does this mean for newspapers in general? It could become a generational gap – whilst the young view the headlines on their tablets and phones, the tried-and-tested newspaper may still find favour with those of a certain age who don’t and won’t embrace the idea of right-now news  – that’s what the TV news is for, right?

Or maybe, newspapers will just become a massive indulgence, a chance for us all to take a break and instead of tapping on our touch screens, enjoy the feel and sound of a crisp newspaper as we leaf through the news at our leisure. You can bet you take longer to read a newspaper than you do the news online.

But in a world where waiting is fast becoming a thing of the past, what will tomorrow’s headlines be for the medium of printed news? Because think about it for a moment – how many times did you read the news online today? Would you read a newspaper over and over again?

Scott Goodson is the founder of StrawberryFrog. His first book, Uprising about building your brand in the age of uprisings and movements has been published by McGraw Hill.

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