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Traditional media and internet are part of same ecosystem, say experts

08 October 2012

OneWorld South Asia

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Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor of India's leading daily, 'The Hindu', said traditional media and new media being part of the same ecosystem, should not be looked at separately.

The issue of ‘Internet and Traditional Media: Comrades or Competitors’ was discussed during the India Internet Governance Conference (IIGC) in New Delhi.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, president, Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP), quoting a Medianama research report, said that India had 121 million internet users.

“In the three years to 2011, about 69 million users were added, the report said, giving an internet penetration rate of 10 per cent and an annual growth of 38 per cent against the 8 per cent growth rate recorded globally. India’s population of internet users is about a quarter of China’s but is growing at a rate that the traditional media cannot ignore,” he said.

Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor, The Hindu, opined, “We must not look at traditional media and new media separately; they both are a part of one media ecosystem. In India, we do not face a situation like the US where a steep decline was seen after the emergence of new media. In our country, the good part is both traditional media and internet are growing simultaneously and advertisement revenue of one is not cut by the other.”

“However, in the next five to six years, it is expected that a majority of consumers of media will switch to non-paper mediums. People will migrate to new devices for accessing news. At that stage, we will have to derive a new business model. Also, it will be necessary to keep the new media civil through a body which could act as a curator and editor so that the medium is not misused and address the issue of credibility,” he added.

R Sukumar, Editor, Mint, remarked, “With the coming of new media a few things will not change. We still need to have ethics and integrity in both traditional and new media. A pre-defined code of conduct still needs to be adhered to. We have to define what can and cannot be done just to catch the eyeballs. Also, data journalism is one of the best outcomes of new media.”

Madhavan Narayanan, Columnist/Associate Editor, Hindustan Times, felt, “Without mainstream media, social media will lack a coherent structure. Mainstream media will change but it will have to work with the new media.

“The structure of new media relies on five Cs namely, co-opetition; cooption with traditional media; countervailing or influencing the mainstream media; community policing and crowd-funding,” he said.

R Jagannathan, Editor-in-chief, emphasized that traditional media has narrow goals and vested interests, and for this reason traditional media finds itself sidelined.
“It is the tyranny of the traditional media which is responsible for its failing. New media democratizes information and gives voice to people. Therefore it is becoming a successful medium for dissemination of information,” he said.

Avinash Das, Editor and Founder Member,, pointed out that traditional media works within constitutional restrictions and boundaries and an individual finds his voice being heard through the new media.

Subi Chaturvedi, Assistant Professor – Journalism, Lady Sri Ram College for Women, said that one of the major issues with internet was ethics and credibility.

“New media is not threatening the traditional media because in India, there are still more than 133 news channels and an equal number of channels are awaiting approvals. Newspapers are also thriving and one can see an increase in their numbers as well,” she said.   

IIGC was organised by FICCI in association with the Ministry of Communications & IT and the Internet Society.

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