To look at the deep and debilitating impact #Coronavirus has had on jobs and salaries and workplaces merely through the prism of journalists and editors in India, would be to take a very limited view of what is a larger, systemic problem, one that haunts those way above the payscale of employees.
Barring the faceless interventions of industry bodies like the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the owners and proprietors of media—the maaliks who make key decisions and sign the cheques—have been mostly absent from the equation, most preferring to let managers and bean counters to convey the bad news.
In this episode of J-POD, a podcast on journalism, N. Ram, the former Editor-in-Chief of the family-owned newspaper, The Hindu, and Chairman, The Hindu Publishing Group, throws light on how he, as the pater families of the “Mount Road Mahavishnu“, views the emerging media landscape in India, post #COVID.
Here’s a brief timeline of the topics “Mr Ram” broaches:
2.59: The newspaper business is in danger
4.08: Newspapers facing an advertising recession
6.12: Indian media was in denial
7.05: After this crisis, all major groups will charge for content online
11.30: The Hindu salary cuts are not going to bail you out, but without it, it will be difficult for the business to go on
16.28: Newspapers seeking government sops compromises independence
19.30: Media criticism of Sonia Gandhi suggestion for ad squeeze shows all that’s wrong with Indian media
25.53: In last six years, a lot of mainstream media have functioned as propaganda arms of Narendra Modi government
28.35: When Modi interacted with media owners before announcing lockdown, many did not get a word in, except a few chosen ones
36.58: Why media communalised #Coronavirus, conflict of interest, and fear of popular sovereignty
40.40: “Some years ago, I used to say, compared to other developing countries, we are in an enviable position. Today if I say that, t would be fake news.”
45.25: How he sees the future of The Hindu, 50 years from now
47.45: How the media industry is paying the price for embracing The Times of India model of price cuts, dumping, dumbing down
52.28: Two pieces of advice for budding journalists. And one piece of advice for journalists apprehensive of their future