MIRZA, Dec 20 - Social media is surely but silently killing the newspaper institutions by uploading online circulation of newspapers in their media free of cost, following which people have been reading newspapers in their smart phones and computers, thereby dealing a body blow to the circulation of newspapers, besides affecting the newspaper houses economically.
The above was observed by Prasanta Jyoti Baruah, Executive Editor of The Assam Tribune while addressing journalists of the All Assam Journalists� Union (AAJU) after inaugurating the delegates� meet of AAJU at the organisation�s annual session at Azara today.
Baruah said that newspapers and electronic media have now become accessible on Facebook, Whatsapp groups, Google etc., and that a large section of the readers no longer purchase newspapers, for which newspaper houses all over the world have been suffering heavily.
He added that social media has now become a major obstacle for survival of the newspaper institutions.
He added that social media gets many advertisements for uploading newspapers and have thus been earning handsomely from the advertisements, though unfortunately, such funds accruing from the advertisements are not shared with the newspaper houses.
�We work hard and publish the newspapers, but the social media, including Facebook, Google, Whatsapp etc., collect huge revenue by way of uploading our newspapers,� lamented Baruah.
�The government of each country should bring legislation and issue guidelines so that a part of revenue collected from the advertisements by social media may be shared with the newspapers and electronic media houses,� he said. He added that the Australian government has already directed the social media agencies to share revenue collected from advertisements via online circulation of newspapers and other electronic media news.
Significantly, he added that the Vice-President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu has already stressed on enacting a law to enable newspaper and other electronic media houses to get a share of the revenue of social media for uploading of newspapers and reports of other media.
Baruah mentioned that COVID-19 has also created a major crisis in the circulation front, and obviously, survival of newspapers.
�A section of people harbour the irrational fear that newspapers may carry the COVID-19 virus, and hence circulation of newspapers has been hit adversely, thereby creating an economic crisis in the newspaper houses. As a result, newspaper houses had to cut pay of employees for survival of the industry,� he said, and added that many newspaper houses are still struggling for survival due to the negative impact by COVID-19.
�I therefore appeal to the Government to promptly offer an economic package to the newspapers and other media houses in line with similar economic packages which have already been given to the industries and other organisations so that the media houses may tide over the COVID-related crisis,� he said.
He lauded the Assam Government initiative of helping newspapers and other media houses by increasing the number of advertisements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He admitted that correspondents in the rural areas have been deprived of many benefits by the media houses.
�The Assam Tribune Group is perhaps the first newspaper in India which has been implementing the Majithia Wage Board recommendations and thereby benefiting the correspondents, reporters and other staff. I therefore urge the other newspaper organisations to hike pay/salary/honorarium of the correspondents so that they can manage a better standard of living,� he said.
He expressed satisfaction that the Assam Government has been giving pension of Rs 8,000 to 20 retired journalists every year and requested the Government to increase the amount of pension and the number of journalists.
Outlining the fact that journalists have been risking their lives for reporting news of flood and other disasters and working hard for social development, he said that many work and campaigns initiated by the journalists have created major positive impact on the society. Journalist campaign on the Nirbhaya issue compelled the Government to bring stringent law against rapists.
He called upon the journalists to work hard to protect the property and natural beauties of Assam. He lamented that open cast coal mining and illegal coal mining have been polluting the environment and impacting the society negatively.
�The British too mined coal and exploited us, but they never destroyed our environment. Coal mining during British rule in Ledo had not destroyed Dihing Patkai mountains, which are but (hills) today. Coal India Limited has reportedly destroyed the beautiful Dihing Patkai Mountains, which is not good for our society.�
�Journalist should highlight the positive stories along with their political reporting. They should visit the field and try to report with facts,� he said.
It may be mentioned here that the annual session of All Assam Journalists� Union is being organised at Azara from December 19 to 20 with a two-day programme.
The AAJU insigne was hoisted by Pankaj Kumar Nath, president of AAJU followed by Smriti Tarpan by Nakul Talukdar, secretary of AAJU.
Earlier on December 19, the AAJU insigne of Kamrup district committee was hoisted by Nayan Kalita, president of AAJU�s Kamrup district committee followed by Smriti Tarpan by Dilip Nath, secretary of AAJU�s Kamrup district committee.
A new executive committee of AAJU�s Kamrup district committee was also formed with Dilip Nath as president and Abdul Gani Khan as secretary.