Do we really need newspapers?


Print media in India is flourishing. If we take the past 2 years of incidents into account, Indian newspaper industry has seen tremendous growth. I am not talking about the revenue of the industry but the choices available to the consumer.  In the past 2 years I have seen at least 3 newspapers expanding in India. That does not necessarily mean that the quality of the content has increased.

Mint which is coming from Hindustan Times has started its operations in key metros. The paper is published in collaboration with Wall Street Journal. DNA has expanded their services in Bangalore. Times went to Chennai which is The Hindu’s bastion. Another regional newspaper(which I know of) Sakshi was launched in Andhra Pradesh. New York Times picked a 5% stake in Deccan Chronicle. All these events are showing the print media industry a rosy picture. But is it really that rosy?


Mint started in Mumbai and Delhi. They started a little later in Bangalore. I was really pissed that they did not start it sooner. Ever since Mint started its services in Bangalore I am a regular subscriber. This is in addition to subscribing to their rss feeds since their inception. Mint is one of its kind newspaper and is a cut above the rest like Economic Times and Business Standard. Its focus is impeccable.

But, now I am re-thinking about the subscription. Reason is not the price. It only costs 2 rupees per day and the monthly bill comes to 50 odd rupees. The reason is the clutter it is creating. I can very well read the paper online. Archiving is a problem for the print version. Why do I need this subscription?

One more story is that of DNA. DNA started their operations only last December in Bangalore. It managed to grab the attention by careful advertising. DNA has used billboards and radio stations to put the bang in Bangalore. It had an offer where you pay for the full year subscription. Since I am a news geek I fell for it. Now I have DNA coming in daily and I can’t stop it. I am even thinking about gifting the coupons to someone so that I can be clutter free. I can read DNA online.

When I was re-thinking about my subscription I came across this post from Seth Godin’s blog. This has reinforced my conviction. I am thoroughly convinced that I don’t need newspapers. My RSS feeds will work just fine.

This of course would apply for the tech savvy. Others are getting their dose of daily news from TV. It is round the clock so you can’t miss a thing. Then they are other channels like SMS alerts and mobiles. Between web, TV and mobile we have covered most of the things. Or so I think.

What are the things you get from newspapers which you cannot get from any of the other channels? Would you switch from newsprint to online media forever?

*Image source : laffy4k via flickr

  1. Sunny Jindal says

    Hi All,

    We are here talking of people who want to bookmark pages, archive news and search of specific topics.

    But , if we look out the window people are not buying newpaper for that purpose. It is a convinience good (costs only 2 rupees). People buy it to just read it and enjoy it.

    The highest circulation papers are the ones with generic news and cartoon strips. Moreover, innovations like local suppliment is making newspaper even more irresistible.

  2. hyder says

    Print media is fighting for its survival but very soon, it will be taken over by virtual newspapers were you get the feel of a paper without the actual use of paper.It will not only save trees but also provide secound by secound updates.I was thinking why not to put this technology in our sun glasses or any normal opticals were you will see the headlines and if any headline catches you eye, it will open to give the full detail of that news.I hate reading news on paper, which makes me feel like a donkey in this digital age.

  3. Sachin says

    Really Its been a great discussion here.

  4. Sriram Vadlamani says

    @Everyone : Though the media across the globe is suffering, Indian media is still young and maturing. Internet penetration is still low but improving. So the trend is going online but the print media will prevail at least for now.

    Best thing is we helped Dipika for her presentation.


  5. Mayank says

    Hello everyone,
    Apart from all the factors proving the printed media to be an important means to communicate news i feel that it is also the connection and comfort that most of us feel in rading from paper. Most of the paper would rather read the version of a book (or newspaper in this context) in paper rather than sitting in front of the computer/ laptop screen and reading it. I am a Computer student and spend most of my time in front of screen but still i find it more convinient to read the paper on the go rather than openening my laptop the first thing in the morning and reading the news on the internet. I have also seen a lot of people doing the same.. they would rather get the print out of the text and read it on the move. Though the digital media is the in-thing and has lots of advantages over the printed medium but, it is also the connection that we feel with the text while reading from paper that makes me (and probably others) vote for the newspapes.
    *This is in addition to all the views listed above in favour of the newspapers like the convinience of taking the newspaper to the loo mentioned by Mr. Sachin. :)

  6. dipika says

    hello everyone.
    i have to give a presentation on digital mediavs print media. all ur comments were of great help. thanks a ton

  7. SmartDude says

    To add to what I said earlier .. There are things that print can never provide over digital media
    1. Abiility to search.. Ever wondered how hard it is to search for a particular news across pages or across news papers…
    2. Ability to bookmark things so you can get to them whenever needed
    3. Ease of archival… You can pack as much digital content you need on tons of DVD’s .. Imagine trying to archive paper
    4. Ability to see videos, blogs on certain topics, etc. Print is oneway communication..

    Apart from the obvious personal benefits to the consumer, digital media provides massive advantage for research, defense, etc

    Print will soon be the thing of the past… It’s just the matter of time.

  8. SmartDude says

    I am from NY and thanks to the hi speed Internet I have never felt the need to read print… And thanks to Apple for inventing the iPhone, I can read news from my toilet.
    However I do agree that print is required in India due to lack of Internet access for most part of the country

  9. gp says

    if some company could provide aam addami Amazon Kindle like e-book reader at subsidized price (which maybe due long-term contract or cut in advt revenue)………….it would end print media as we know it…..and would be great for all us (perhaps save a rain forest….no paper ) and save printing and distribution costs of media companies

  10. Arun Prabhudesai says

    Sriram, very good point raised and very well countered by Yash. yes, it will be surely difficult to replace newspaper.
    My personal experience – I am on the internet for nearly 15 hours a day, however, when I get up in the morning, I literally wait for the newspaper to come. I just NEED it in the morning with my cuppa !

    And secondly like Sachin wrote, newspaper in toilet is bliss :) …you just cant replace that….and let me tell you I have tried wireless lappy…and it just DOES NOT work :)

    Newspapers are here to stay…period !

  11. Dr Srini says

    Digital technology has issues relating to assimilation and analysis; it is meant for perception and immediate reaction (like video games). Newspapers/ print magazines are here to stay since at least some people will want to assimilate the information and draw mwaningful conclusions.

    Pl. see Neville Holmes’ article in IEEE Computer, October 2008.

  12. Yash says

    Newspapers are here to stay, even the techies will need and read them. I am a techie, I read a lot of stuff online but I still read newspapers.

    1. The convenience of a newspaper can not be matched by TV or Internet or even mobile. You can read it in bed, in the loo, while having your breakfast, in crowded bus/train, in your car, in the park, during lunch break etc. May be you can use your mobile to read the news on the go and at various places, but because of problems like miserable speed of mobile Internet and the cost of it and the small screen mobile will never be able to rival newspapers in convenience.

    2. News is not the only thing in the “newspaper”. You have tons of other information and stuff – there is crossword, Sudoku, there are informative articles, stories, gossip, recipes etc. The collective information that you get from a newspaper, if you wanted the same from online sources you’d have to read several online sources.

    3. People like you and me are not the only people in the world. There are housewives, students, elders, people who don’t know English etc. For them a newspaper is much more than just a source of news. have you ever seen a housewife cooking something from the recipe given in the newspaper? You just can’t use your mobile, Internet or TV sources for that kind of use! It’s possible only in a printed medium.

    The biggest factor in the favour of newspapers is its cost. For a mere 50-60 Rs a month, you get a complete gamut of information, entertainment, gossip, on various topics be it current affairs, business, sports etc. RSS feeds will never match that.

    The biggest problem with RSS feeds is that “you” have to chose what you want to read. People don’t have time for that! And people don’t know what to read and where to find it. That’s why Popurls/alltop/original signal is so popular, it gives you a ready mix of things to read. Newspapers do the same thing at fraction of the cots and provide unmatched convenience.

  13. ghosh says

    ‘For most its a ritual that they need to read newspapers over morning coffee or tea.’- I agree with Anand. Newspaper for me is daily ritual just like my morning cup of tea…

  14. Sachin says

    The only benefit I see of print media is we can carry/read it in toilet also. :)

  15. Anand says

    People who have internet access 24/7 dont need newspapaer.
    Answer depends on who really you are asking it? In this case your blog would be read by those who have internet access hence answer is an overwhelming “Yes”.

    But there is majority of population in India atleast which does not have access to these modern medium. So there is need of newspapers. For most its a ritual that they need to read newspapers over morning coffee or tea.
    TV is another option, but its bigger clutter on mind and ear than anything else.

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