Print news media trendsThe first newspaper in the country was started in 1780 by the British and was known as Hicky’s Bengal Gazette. This gave an impetus to establish other newspapers that covered the tidings of the British Raj along with local news. Notably, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the country is the Bombay Samachar and was established in 1822. A spurt in literacy rates along with a renewed focus on regional language publications have been the main drivers of an era of printed news flourishing in India.
The most popular daily in the country is Dainik Jagran that is published in Hindi. Among English speaking Indians, The Times of India had the highest average readership in 2019. Regional publications which are read avidly include Malayalam Manorama, Daily Thanthi in Tamil, Eenadu in Telugu and Lokmat in Marathi amongst many others.
Challenges to newspaper printingA lesser-known fact is that Indian newspapers are primarily made from recycled newsprint while being aided by government subsidies, making it an affordable everyday commodity compared to other countries until recently. Domestic newsprint manufacturers struggle to meet the country's demand due to the severe competition presented by cheap imports. To encourage newspaper publishers to purchase their raw material domestically, the government also levied a 10 percent tax on the import of newsprint in 2019. However, the outbreak of the Ukraine war disrupted the supply of newsprint by one of its leading exporters, Russia. This coupled with the soaring price of newsprint within the country has led to the decline of printed newspapers being circulated, forcing most to go digital instead.
As the younger population is increasingly embracing news on their screens, it cannot be denied that some of the print sector has taken a hit in the country compared to its growth trajectory from a few years ago. Moving on, the challenge for India’s newspaper industry is to be able to retain their audiences through digital platforms, while still maintaining enough advertising and subscription revenue to continue the print editions.