Will All My Friends Be Moving to India Now?

The business woes of the U.S. newspaper industry, and of most other traditional media, have been exhaustively chronicled, most vigorously in newspapers themselves. (I sometimes think that the entire journalism/ music/film/TV industry just needs a 5-year bridge loan to help it safely migrate to the digital future, when online distribution and advertising are robust enough to support them.) So it is nice to see that newspapers are growing somewhere — and in this case, it’s India.

As this Forbes report makes clear, media revenues are way up in India and consumers at a variety of levels seem eager for more content: “Last year, Vogue announced it would start an Indian edition in 2007, and The Wall Street Journal entered into a partnership with The Hindustan Times to launch a business newspaper, Mint, which debuted in February. India’s print media is estimated to reach over 220 million people, and has immense growth potential since close to 370 million literate Indians are believed to not be served by any publication.” The celebrity magazine Hello! has also just launched in India. (The Economist also has a good recent article on the Indian newspaper boom, but only the summary is online; it makes the point that many of the new publications are English-language, since English is not only the international business language, but the language of aspiration for the up-and-coming Indian.)

In the last few years, several of my friends who work in finance have moved to London. I wonder how many of my writer friends will soon be moving to India?


nimishbatra

I hope some of them do.

Quality is desperately needed.

chickenalaking

Hmmm...newspapers and magazines are alive and well in India. I hear the Indian pogo stick market is also expanding at a phenomenal rate over there, as is the hula hoop industry. Additionally, buggy-whip companies are heading for India at lighting speed.

Jaldhar

I'd advise your friends not to get their hopes up. Apart from difficulties such as getting a permit to work in the country (hard for a foreigner,) competition with English speaking Indian journalists etc., computers are even more prestigious than newspapers and magazines. Internet access isn't as pervasive as in the West just yet but it is growing rapidly and is getting within the reach of small-town middle class types. When it becomes mainstream, print media will begin to decline just as they have in the West and probably even faster because they are not as established amongst consumers. TV is even more ubiquitous and has firmly comandeered the attention of the young people who will be potential future newspaper readers (btw there's nothing as surreal on this planet as Donald Duck speaking Hindi!)

The future is digital. Newspapers are dead and the third world won't save them.

furiousball

If I were Indian, the last thing I would want is some American media mogul trying to push their poor excuse for balanced journalism in my country. Screw the news...Where's the KFC? I love their tender herbs and spices.

kellar11

Right, because journalism in India is so fair and balanced as is. There's absolutely no place for foreign media moguls or their furious balls in the Subcontinent. Regarding the chicken, you should really try Popeye's. Then we can talk about tender herbs and spices.

markkkk

Probably the same thing is happening in China, although perhaps not in English.

bankerinindia

I have to say I live in India, been here 6 months, I'm a former investment banker, an avid reader of news and I still like to take a paper in the car on the way to work.
The new WSJ-content paper Mint is actually very good, and fills a serious gap in the Indian market. No I don't work for Mint or WSJ, but I did mention it on my blog about microfinance and the Indian growth story here...
http://bankerinindia.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/02/new_refreshing_.html

bankerinindia

One more thought - the whole print vs. digital conversation here is irrelevant.
Yes, digital will continue to outpace print, but there still have to be newspapers to provide some of that online content, particularly local content in underserved markets. Mint is online as well as in print form. But to think that you can cover the Indian market (or the Asian one for that matter) from a cubicle in the U.S. is much more culturally imperialist than actually going to the country you seek to cover and opening up shop.

G.V.Varma

Indian newspapers (pro-capitalist) welcome globalisation.But with tooth and nail they oppose entry of big foreign newspapers to India! Except a few, most Indian newspapers publish sensational rubbish for many days like the proposed marriage of Bachan's son and former Miss world cum actress Ishwarya Rai or the Shilpa Shetty issue.Entry of foreign news media ,some people think, will provide better analytical coverage and discussion of national and international issues.

G.V.Varma

Indian newspapers (many) welcome globalisation; but they oppose tooth and nail the entry of foreign news media!

bankerinindia

If Indian newspapers oppose tooth and nail the entry of foreign news media than why is the Hindustan Times partnering with WSJ to produce Mint?

I don't think Indian newspapers are any different from any member of an economic sector - they oppose additional competition, unless, they are able to partner with one competitor to dominate another.
Case in point - Hindustan Times (and WSJ) vs. Times of India (and the Economic Times)

ajinkya

Foreign money, marketing n administrative expertise will always be welcome. However i doubt if content creators (writers, media etc) could do better than Indian counterparts when the targeted audience is Indian. India is a culturally diverse and rich, with many nuances that would be hard for a westerner to comprehend. U would hafta live here and become indian to be true to ur creations. but I guess, that could be a greatly rewarding experience for u. i can vouch for that!

THere are a zillion new opportunities to learn new things in India, atleast from a freakonomic pov. :P

@ GV Verma
we r still relatively unscathed with the tabloid culture as compared to US n UK. The advent of western houses will prolly only increase the trashy tabloid culture.

p.s - 'The Indian Express' rules! \m/

avikaul

As is clear Forbes isnt an authority on India and as such what it writes just fuels another imaginary world of India with people full of loaded wallets looking for anything that the western world might have to offer.
The fact is that on literacy levels India stands at 61% i.e 610 million people are considered literate if the population is 1 Billion ( actual is higher ). That would mean a huge market by any calculation. The pity is that in India people are deemed literate if they can sign their name. Hows thats for looking at vast no. of people who will be reading western magazines soon. It is also a fact that 21% of India is below poverty line ...am sure higher oreder needs such as reading newspapers is a bit of a distance away in their must have's. It is also true that stories like these ( the ones by Forbes) are responsible for more and more publishers queing up in India looking for the elusive 500 million middle class. These perception fuelling stories are probably somewhere rooted in financial basis with western money finding markets ..propping them up ( at least till the oil prices are down) ...booking profits and exiting ...and then still come back saying this time the growth is real and the same story of money gets repeated again. In India if you go by latest reports of IRS 2007 ( Indian Readership Survey ) all newspapers have lost readership including the No.1 English and vernacular news papers. In a country of supposedly 610 million "literate" people isnt it strange that the redearship of the highest read daily in English is just 6.78 million.

If India has 370 odd TV channels there is probably a reason . Out of 219 Mn Households in India 112 Mn have TV and 70 Mn homes are pay TV ( C&S + DTH ) . TV is a household phenomena and a single TV household is also part of the social fabric of India where the whole family sits and watches TV. No wonder more than 2.5 hrs of TV are consumed everyday in India and just around 10-12 min per day on Print. TV doesnt call for literacy. As anyone might have guesses i am from India and though i am a firm believer of the Indian growth story , i am also convinced that articles such as these do more harm than good since many publishers looking for their pot of gold and burn their hands and then the cascading effect stops all investment. Especially media companies since if they burn their hands their outlook on all stories is negative even if they are genuine.

Read more...

Prashant Jeloka

I hope many move. There isn't a single publication of the quality of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal or The Economist. I can even offer to help answer some of the questions for those thinking of the move with notes from my own 1 year Delhi experiment: http://www.delhiledger.com

nimishbatra

I hope some of them do.

Quality is desperately needed.

chickenalaking

Hmmm...newspapers and magazines are alive and well in India. I hear the Indian pogo stick market is also expanding at a phenomenal rate over there, as is the hula hoop industry. Additionally, buggy-whip companies are heading for India at lighting speed.

Jaldhar

I'd advise your friends not to get their hopes up. Apart from difficulties such as getting a permit to work in the country (hard for a foreigner,) competition with English speaking Indian journalists etc., computers are even more prestigious than newspapers and magazines. Internet access isn't as pervasive as in the West just yet but it is growing rapidly and is getting within the reach of small-town middle class types. When it becomes mainstream, print media will begin to decline just as they have in the West and probably even faster because they are not as established amongst consumers. TV is even more ubiquitous and has firmly comandeered the attention of the young people who will be potential future newspaper readers (btw there's nothing as surreal on this planet as Donald Duck speaking Hindi!)

The future is digital. Newspapers are dead and the third world won't save them.

furiousball

If I were Indian, the last thing I would want is some American media mogul trying to push their poor excuse for balanced journalism in my country. Screw the news...Where's the KFC? I love their tender herbs and spices.

kellar11

Right, because journalism in India is so fair and balanced as is. There's absolutely no place for foreign media moguls or their furious balls in the Subcontinent. Regarding the chicken, you should really try Popeye's. Then we can talk about tender herbs and spices.

markkkk

Probably the same thing is happening in China, although perhaps not in English.