By- Bidyut Bikas
The recent and the latest Indian Readership Survey (IRS) have revealed depressing figures for the news and media industry of Assam. Almost all dailies have lost significant number of readers in Assam.
Amongst Assamese dailies, the highest circulated Asomiya Pratidin, which reaches out to 74 per cent of Assamese daily readers in the state, has lost a huge readership of 4.66 lakh readers in the last 1.5 year. It enjoys a current readership of slightly over 55 lakhs. Asomiya Khabar, at second position has lost about 6 lakh readers in the same period with current readership standing at around 25 lakh. Dainik Agradoot, which stands at third, has lost the highest readership with over 8 lakh readers stopping to read it any more.
The figure on English dailies shows a similar trend as well. The highest circulated English daily in the state, Assam Tribune has also lost around 42,000 readers in the last 1.5 years with The Telegraph is the standing at number 2 loosing as many as 1.37 lakh readers. The Times of India has also lost about 41,000 readers in the state.
From the above decline in newspaper readership, it is being considered that the days of late Parag Kumar Das has disappeared for the news and media industry of Assam, with people no longer trusting the newspapers which they read. During the days of Late Parag Kumar Das, he alone declared a war against all corruption and vandalism forces in the Government which had kept the people’s trust intact on the media. But in recent times, it is being observed that most newspapers or news channels act only as puppets of political parties in fulfilling their own agenda. The concept of yellow journalism is a household name and journalism is no longer considered as a symbol of truth and voice of the people. It is rather considered as a business, a means of making money by blackmail and hiding or manipulating the truth.
In addition to the people loosing trust on the media, two other factors which have led to the decline in newspaper readership are the rise of the News Channels and the internet editions of newspapers. With the presence of several satellite news channels in the state such as Newslive, DY365, NE News, News Time, and Frontier TV as well as locally operated channels, people are no longer interested in reading news one day later which they have already watched live when it happened. Even newspapers like Sentinel and Asomiya Pratidin have understood this fact and have invested in satellite news channels in the recent past.
On the other hand, almost all major newspapers of the state, both vernacular and English, maintains a web edition in the internet which is available across the world. However only few of them have been able to attract much visitors to their site on a regular basis except for the likes of Assam Tribune. It is to be mentioned that newly launched alternate media news portal Times of Assam has recorded a phenomenal growth in just about seven months from its launch, with its current global internet ranking keeping it at the top all news and media sites from Assam. Assam Tribune’s web edition currently stands second to Times of Assam in global visitor count.