Friday, June 5, 2015

"Darling, switch to that advertisement channel please, I want to catch the news in the breaks."

Any product manufactured, has a life cycle. There is a phase of development and launch, followed by the growth and the maturity phase, leading to decline and then the end. So do media products follow a similar life cycle? If not similar, what kind of life cycle do they follow? Do they have a life cycle at all? 

(Image source: http://notesdesk.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/product-life-cycle-stages-plc.jpg)

In this post, lets speak of the economics of news media products. I had a lot of fun when I had presented a paper titled 'The Life-cycle of News'. As soon as I uttered the title, there was a sanctimonious uproar by some members in the audience who actually felt insulted, that I called 'news' a product. Some agreed with what I presented, some did not. I still reiterate - 'news' is a media product. I cannot fathom why some people feel it cannot be so. Interestingly, my friends in the news media agree, but some who 'study' media, don't.

Let's consider the following:

News does not come free.
It costs a lot to produce news, probably more than reality shows or a scripted show.
Some news stories are followed up, are reported, broadcast over a period of time.
Some news stories are one-time.
The popularity of news is rated just like other shows.
The news readers become celebrities, just like actors in shows.
The news bulletins are given fancy names.
News, newspapers are advertised.
News is sold to advertisers, and advertising rates decided on popularity/readership/viewership ratings.
News is also advertised. Oh they actually make promos of the prime time news bulletins, so they can be sold to the viewers.
And there are ads in between news stories.

Isn't this enough to call 'news' a product? And I am not even making a comment on news and news media being an important part of society, being the fourth estate, the watchdog of the society, the keeper of social justice, being the moral police, being judgmental,  conducting media trials, exposing corruption...... oh well!


(Image source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-32dn2Ceg8H8/T_A_L9eTvQI/AAAAAAAAAF0/JufxudynDjM/s300/hindi.gif)

Vineet Jain said in an interview, "We are not in the newspaper business. If 90 percent of your revenues come from advertising, you are in the advertising business." No one could have put it better. So like it or not, in media economics terms, 'news' is a product, and it is produced and 'manufactured'  like any other product in any industry. But unlike other industries, its a media product, so news as a product is advertised, but in turn, also advertises other products. More about that in another blog post. 

Just one thing, so that my stance is clear - Journalism, by itself, is sacrosanct. News IS a product.

So I am justified when I say, "Darling, switch to that advertisement channel please, I want to catch the news in the breaks."