Unlocking the future of news media in India

Digital content consumption has skyrocketed during the pandemic and indicators are showing this shift to continue. With the widespread adoption of smartphones, 4G and 5G transforming data speeds, and a large, young demographic fascinated by social media, the future of content consumption is digital. At the same time, however, print will continue to have a significant following in India and cable cuts may not be a dominant trend when it comes to television. Even as news media approaches the digital age, what does the future of the industry hold?

Two decades ago there was only print media with the growing popularity of television. Today, content consumption has increased many times over. How can publishers maintain an endless supply of personalized content to keep up with seemingly insatiable demand? In the midst of a sea of ​​content, how can they continue to grab audiences’ attention with messages? More importantly, how do they manage to stay profitable? In a country where print media is still thriving, the news media industry must meet the needs of audiences in the ways they want, while being innovative and profitable.

Where is the news media headed in India?

As an industry that has historically relied primarily on human judgment over technology, the news media is at a crossroads. The transition to technology is inevitable, as is human adaptability. AI is the next disruptive technology in news media.

Praveen Someshwar, MD and CEO of HT Media Group offers some insight. As one of India’s oldest media companies and a leader in the industry, HT Media Group embraces AI and is emerging as a new-age content company. Someshwar believes that a lasting news organization must rest on three pillars. First, news must be authentic, even in the face of disruption from new technologies such as AI. “A credible single source of truth where you provide reliable information,” as he puts it. Second, curation or personalization is important. The world of news cannot be limited to one print newspaper for everyone; Rather, audiences today want hyper-personalized content. Third, delivering differentiated content and insights is key to monetization because great content is the only way for publishers to generate subscription revenue. This is where technology comes in, and AI becomes all the more important in the media.

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However, the big question remains: how does news media use technology to work seamlessly with the human mind?

AI-powered algorithms have immense potential in multiple areas of news media: content creation and distribution, word pattern and fake/fabricated news detection through deep learning, real-time fact checking, automatic audio and video transcriptions, advanced search for highly focused news topics and industries , translations and presentations, personalizing content for more engagement and modifying paywalls to convert readers into subscribers. AI not only helps increase content volume, but also reduces the workload of journalists and other media professionals. With the right insights, the human mind can evolve into a more supervisory role while the AI ​​carries out the manual tasks.

Someshwar says he is very excited about the future of news media, which will embrace authenticity at its core and technology that offers a better return on investment for both publishers and audiences.

Neeraj Sharma, Managing Director – Communications, Media and Technology at Accenture in Growth Markets, also provides insightful insights into the development of the industry. Sharma works with multiple media companies on their digital transformation journey. In order to grow, Sharma says, news media must “evolve from the information business to the interaction business — meaningful interactions enabled and enriched by communities … whether interest-specific, language-specific or regional. Specific.”

In order to move into a tech-driven future, Sharma adds that news media need to take a fresh approach to products, content and monetization. Businesses need to work towards developing audience cohort-based products and offering more than just information. For example, a financial publisher needs to go beyond just financial news and become a financial wellness platform that allows audiences to understand their financial wellness needs and meet those needs without leaving the platform.

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The next step is to deliver faster, more insightful, and hyper-localized content in short and long formats that are reused across different channels. Content should not only serve information, but also insights, interactions and intentions. The use of AI, contributors, and citizen journalists in content creation needs to be explored. Businesses should also be able to package content across formats, including audio, video, images, and text.

In terms of monetization, media has the opportunity for sustainable revenue growth through diversification beyond advertising and subscriptions by adding events and commerce to the model.

Master the challenges

For Someshwar, one of the biggest challenges for news media is reaching an increasingly fragmented audience that consumes news across a range of platforms. Solving this problem requires investing in technology to understand audiences and their consumption patterns, and to deliver personalized content across formats. Building content creator skills in an evolving environment is another critical area. As technologies advance and the use of AI becomes more prevalent, content creators need to step out of their comfort zone to adopt new practices that contribute to better outcomes.

While big tech companies depend on media for content delivery on the one hand, and media depend on these companies for content delivery on the other hand for large numbers of viewers, a balance between the two is essential to achieve a win-win to create situation. In addition, news media should carefully consider resource allocation and invest for both today and tomorrow. As technologies such as open AI are on the rise, the industry must be able to balance resources to unlock future opportunities.

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Sharma believes the biggest challenge is the mindset. Instead of thinking about being print or digital first, news media companies need to take a consumer-centric approach and then focus on growth by working on product management, technology, data analysis and reskilling of employees.

How can you avoid falling into the raw material trap?

While it’s often said that “news isn’t a commodity,” many readers and advertisers treat it that way. To avoid falling into this trap, the industry must focus on producing quality journalism that differentiates itself from the competition while building a loyal readership and generating new revenue streams. Publishers can thus create a sustainable and successful business model for the future that meets the needs of readers and advertisers.