Courage to fight back a must to be in news industry, says Scroll’s editor


Kochi: Innovative formats and dissemination of vital information are inevitable for the future of journalism as well as democracy, said senior journalist Naresh Fernandes.

Flagging the increasing trend of people disassociating themselves with news, Fernandes, the editor of, said, in a tone of warning, “If we fail to find compelling answers, we will crash and burn.”

He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘the future of news’ at the fifth edition of Techspectations, Manoramaonline’s marquee digital summit.

Citing a recent Reuters study on the falling interest of the people in news consumption and the reasons cited by the respondents, including credibility deficit and overdose of news, Fernandes said, “Innovative formats and vital contextual information to an increasingly exhausted audience will determine not only the future of the industry but also the future of our democracy. If we fail to find compelling answers we will crash and burn,” he said.

He said credibility is the primary source that drives the audience. “If you play footsie with the people on the other side of the wall, that destroys your credibility.

To a query on how news organisations could be true to their duty without being afraid of the possible repercussions from the government, the editor said an organisation should not be in the news business if it does not have the courage to fight.

“Several of our colleagues have been jailed, Siddique Kappan from this state is a prime example. Then there have been lesser degrees of ‘engagements’ like long-running tax evasion charges. Given that the financial system is too complex it's easy to tie someone up at a specific point. Then you shouldn’t be in the news if you don’t have the stomach for a battle. It’s a battle for our democracy too. If citizens don’t get the necessary information to make informed choices you shouldn’t call yourself a news industry, you should call yourself a media industry,” he said in a hard-hitting statement.

Fernandes shared the dais with Binoy Prabhakar, executive editor, Moneycontrol; Durga Raghunath, head, News Partnerships, India, Google India; and L V Navaneeth, CEO, The Hindu. All the panellists shared the view that the industry should go for experiments to survive.

Citing the increase in readers’ interests, Prabhakar said Moneycontrol, despite being a financial website primarily, had to amplify its coverage to serve the changing readership.

“What we do is we have amplified our coverage and expanded into new beats. We try to serve what our audience really wants. We address the questions that really matter to the audience and help them connect the dots better,” he said.

Navaneeth said the future of news is exciting even as the future of news business is going to be complex. He said the traditional yardsticks of quality journalism such as credibility, trustworthiness, and authenticity will stay.

“There should be a balance of creation and curation.” He predicted a scenario where news organisations will have to deal with more reader revenue than ad revenue. He said the future of news is going to be multi-format, multimedia and multi-lingual.

Raghunath also highlighted the possible changes in format and content. “There is an exponential rise in language users accessing the internet. The whole idea of multi-lingual is going to undergo a lot of changes,” she said. Citing the difference in the loyalty various age groups share with news media, she said the organisations will have to devise strategies to address the interests of both the youth and the elder readers. 

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