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Medium for the Masses: How India’s Local Newspapers Are Winning Rural Readers

A few years ago many were debating the existence and relevance of newspapers once the internet penetrates the largely rural area of India. People were ready with numbers that predicted a decline in the print share and an increase in internet usage. To decode what happened and why newspapers continue to exist in India and why more than ever local media is in demand, we need to go back to 2016.

Internet was available for free in India thanks to Reliance’s Jio network. Rural India which by that time was also in a process of digitalization hurried its process due to Jio. Jio gave tools to many to read and write-enough to read a newspaper in Hindi or a local language.

India’s Local Media is more relevant than before:

At a time when newspapers are folding in other countries, India’s media scene is admirably buoyant, thanks to the country’s burgeoning rural, local-language newspapers. According to the New Delhi-based Indian Newspaper Society, India has 62,000 newspapers, with a staggering 90% of them in local languages. Indian news publishers are doing relatively well.

Anatomy of the local newspaper:

A typical, 24-page local edition will have the regular fare of national and regional news, in addition to eight to 12 district-specific pages with coverage of local events, spanning business and politics as well as social news and profiles of, say, village heroes and villains.

Masters of the game:

Whatever their origins, local papers often depend on the diversified revenue streams of their parent companies for survival. The media group that publishes Eenadu, for example, also makes films and has a sprawling studio in the south of the country, which it rents out to Hollywood and Bollywood producers.

Despite a favorable environment, newspapers face massive challenges. Illiteracy still continues in India, internet penetration is still low but, despite all these, we need to understand that local media is more approachable for localized and hyper-localized content but they are also making a mark on the national front.

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