Newspapers stand their ground against all odds
Karachi: At a seminar on Ã¬Newspapers in the age of televisionÃ® held at the Sir Shanawaz Bhutto Auditorium of the Sindh Madressatul Islam College (SMIC) on Monday, speakers expressed their views on the resilience of the print media in an era in which most people turn to information technology and television for their news.
SMIC Principal Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh said that while the circulation of newspapers had declined by 10 to 20 percent all over the world, the global readership of papers accessed online had increased by 25 percent.
Commenting on newspapers published in the developed world, he mentioned that the Washington Post was forced to close two out of four bureau offices due to financial constraints. He added that despite the hardships that the print media had been facing in advanced nations, the value awarded to newspapers in developing countries was relatively higher.
The head of the Media Studies Department at the Institute of Business and Management, Professor Dr Shahida Qazi, expressed her opinion on the importance of the print media, saying that newspapers provided an enormous wealth of information along with in-depth analyses on a vast variety of pertinent subjects, including infotainment, education and other social issues.
She also believed that columnists writing for Urdu newspapers in Pakistan provided more information than those of English publications. On a personal note, Qazi said that reading the newspaper was an integral part of her daily routine, even more important than eating or drinking. She also extended her appreciation of the research papers presented on the occasion by students studying at the SMICÃs Mass Communication Department.
Professor Inam Bari of Karachi University (KU) countered the common misconception that the traditional news medium of newspapers was increasingly becoming less popular around the world. He cited examples of newspapers published in India, Japan and other countries, saying that despite the fact that the Japanese were known to be very high-tech, around 50 million copies from various publications companies still made their way across homes and offices all over Japan on a daily basis.
He said that Malayalam was only one of 92 languages spoken in India, and yet the newspaper published in this language circulated around five million amongst its niche market. Prof Bari added that newspapers had even facilitated television through their revenues.
Noted businessmen Amin Hashwani said that the global media industry was expanding and society was currently facing an information revolution much like the agricultural revolution and industrial revolution of the past. He advised the SMIC students to stay clear of the ultra- rightist stance that the US media had adopted, adding that it was important for them to remain open-minded in their future endeavors in Pakistan’s media industry.
The world was experiencing a rapid increase in poverty in many parts of the world, and true change in those societies could only be brought about when the efforts were home-grown, said Hashwani. He reminded the SMIC students that they carried the immense responsibility of carving out the path that society was treading towards.