Print media across the country are turning towards paid journalism and that has been the trend to survive in the economy. Print is the hardest hit, due to dwindling ads and disruption in circulation, with myths and paranoia about coronavirus spreading through newspapers only adding to the problem.
Bengaluru: India’s dynamic news media industry, among the few thriving in the world, with its crores of readers and viewers has been hit hard by the unprecedented economic standstill brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In view of the large number of layoffs and salary cuts announced by several media organisations, the National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) have accused media owners of using the nationwide lockdown announced to combat the spread of COVID-19 as “an excuse for retrenchment and arbitrary pay cuts”.
In a statement, they said the novel coronavirus was “a national crisis and the pain of dealing with this crisis must be accepted by media companies and their shareholders, not passed on to vulnerable employees.”
The financial health of many media houses across the country is not in good shape and this has led to many vulnerable employees bearing the brunt instead of the media companies and their shareholders.
Revealing how the hierarchy on the platform works, Soumyadipta, a journalist said, a friend of his working in a Left portal told him that there is panic at her office as money and funds have dried up.
A friend works in a Left portal. She told me, there's panic at her office. The money has dried up from sponsors and there's no substantial public donations.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
"It's a yellow light which will soon turn into red," she said while describing the financial health of the company
This is a fresh and more severe blow as sections of the industry had already been hurt by India’s economic slowdown. Pay to read content has been the most recent trend but all media houses aren't opting for this.
She says that readers aren't inclined to pay for the content they read and Google Adwords pay paltry sums despite decent pageviews. So, incomes have dwindled to a minimum from Google Adwords and public donations.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
The only saviours are patrons, client advertisements & paid content
Digital subscriptions have grown particularly quickly, thanks to the easy access of the internet. Contributors, patrons and members have been avoiding to further dwell into the matter of funds, leaving the companies in a lurch.
Moreover, many companies are refusing to associate themselves with the “Left portal” because of their blatant “anti-national content”.
Patrons: Some patrons are not donating because they have restructured their budget allocations due to the pandemic. Obviously so.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
Some have also decided to stop all donations now and divert funds towards public health, PM Cares etc which is in national interest.
Result: No money
Client Ads: This is most interesting. Many companies are refusing to associate themselves with the portal because of their blatant anti-national content.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
They are just not responding to sales pitches.
This is something that the portal never experienced before the pandemic hit us.
According to reports, media owners are claiming that they are severely affected by the lockdown, that circulations, page views and advertising have fallen and therefore they are resorting to huge salary cuts.
However, it has been the vulnerable employees taking pay cuts in their mere salary while top editors are freed from these measures, claims Soumyadipta.
Salaries: The top editors are paid large amounts (5 lakhs per month and upwards) when they are not bound by "exclusive" contracts. Meaning: They earn money from other sources.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
Most of these editors haven't taken a pay cut and mostly don't do day-to-day work.
What do they do?
They just sit there and tweet mostly. They write columns on the portal. They hobnob with the top management and organise editorial meetings.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
These Edit Meets are nothing but long, elaborate discussions about being in nothingness. Or, a pep talk about an impending revolution.
While most journalists are toiling and pushing themselves hard to get their content visible, these editors are not doing anything but giving elaborate gyans in meetings and wasting more time. Most don't even have an idea about the daily work flow.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
Result: Massive discontent.
The coronavirus crisis has engulfed even top media houses, which have resorted to pay cuts starting from April. In 2016 the media industry misused the demonetisation decision to enforce mass retrenchments, and today some media companies are threatening to turn the lockdown into a lockout.
There have been salary cuts. Some journalists have been laid off while freelancers have been asked to stop contributing. The existing staffers have been asked to produce more content.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) May 9, 2020
All this in the name of "things will get better" & "a revolution will come in journalism again"!
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Last Updated 10, May 2020, 11:43 AM