THE DIGITAL FUTURE OF NEWS MEDIA

(The article was written for Rasala Publications Brand, PCWorld Pakistan)

The news print industry was believed to be doomed from the very onset of the online media but somehow it survived the decade of the new technology. But now it seems the print end is imminent when the social media and other online tools have taken the news industry by storm. The instant and instantaneous delivery of the online news has made it more better choice than the print. Even the popularity of the print edition seems to be on the decline in the newer generation where the cost of the print edition plays a major part also. After all, who would go for subscription if the same news is available online from some other source?

These factors have influenced some of the big guns in the print industry to finally abandon their traditional means of news and embrace the new media which could eventually earn more revenues for them, and at a better cost. If not, then they will soon face bankruptcy. Similar, is the case with the magazine industry.

The magazine industry has been struggling much more than the hard print copy because of the less targeted audience and user preferences. So, will the new era usher an end to print copy for the magazine industry.

Let us dig out what the future prospects are for the magazine industry after one of the very old name in such regard Newsweek announced earlier this month to say goodbye to print after almost eighty years of publication. The ultimatum set by Newsweek for its hard copy quiet tells the story of the struggling times for the once established player. But is the case exclusive only to Newsweek or for the entire industry. We will find out below.

Is the future all-digital for magazine industry?

When Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown and founder of The Newsweek Daily Beast Baba Shetty announced this week: “In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format,” the decision did not come as a surprise for many who considered the magazine to be lost in its direction for quiet some time since Tina Brown took control of the publication. Although the magazine overall subscriptions were not at all impressive before Brown was assigned the higher role but it even got worse after her appointment, instead of showing some improvement.

Since Newsweek is one of the oldest names in the magazine industry, speculations are high that not much scope has been left for the printed word. But on the other hand, some spectators from the industry believed that the decision is all exclusive to the magazine and will not affect much of the industry. Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University Of Mississippi School Of Journalism believes that the merger of the print edition with the news website Daily Beast has led the publication in its present state, as he said: “Tina Brown took Newsweek in the wrong direction. Newsweek did not die, Newsweek committed suicide.”

The problem with the publication seems to be entirely its own and not of the whole industry. This can be very well justified from the following facts:

-The ad revenue for the industry has risen by 2.6% in US, according to eMarketer.

-In US, about 181 new magazines were launched this year while only about 61 were closed.

The above mentioned facts reflect very well that despite of the decline in the readers’ subscriptions, the magazine industry is still booming. Moreover, the other established players in the industry are not considering any near possibility to completely end their print present.

Contrary to this, the new media is embraced by the established and emerging players for generating more revenues while reaching out to a wider audience who could not avail the print copy in their respective environment. The provision of digital format along with print version will help them keep their traditional as well new channels intact.

Although there is little denying in the fact that the print industry has been severely affected by the new media, it has also gained a lot from it too. The new smart devices and applications have made the publication target the Smart users and reach out more to the ‘once non-readers’. Moreover, the older readers still very much have their preferences for the hard copy, despite having the information available on hand.

Even more importantly, since we are talking magazine industry in specific which provides the analysis and commentary that people like to read in their leisure time and to gain a better insight about matters at hand. In these circumstances, the hard copy can be easily carried while travelling –it is not always feasible to carry laptops and smart devices along.

Hence, ushering an end to print copy is still very much early because of the presence of the magazine in the industry globally. The case for the Newsweek and the rest of industry seems to be less connected than what is thought to be. Therefore, the decision by the publication to end its print presence can not be replicated for the rest of the industry until and unless other prominent players like TIME takes such initiative. Will all the other follow Newsweek in this regard is something premature to predict, but still it seems less of a possibility if one look at the dynamics of the industry at present.

WHO ARE YOU?

Are you the night or the day

or something similar to grey

does your thoughts conform to what you portray

or is it just a reflection of what they say

I came across a status on Facebook that says, ‘In one sentence, who are you?’. I thought for a while but could not summarize the story of my life in just one sentence. This kind of irritated me because I always like the use of minimal words to convey powerful message but alas! I am speechless, clueless to what could possibly the answer to this. So I decided to ask the same question from my different friends to know their responses.

When I confronted others with the same question, I found them as dumbfounded as I am, even some were intimidated by such a question after so many years of friendship. From there on, it became interesting. I got several answers but not the one in a single sentence, rather in form of different words. But it did one thing, it made me realized how oblivious we are in knowing ourself, reflecting on our personality and how approving we are to others’ opinions of ourselves.

But it all took me back to the question to ‘Who Am I’. It took me time to realize that I am a person of conflicting opinions, with varying moods, too involved or detached at times. Hence, I figured out: “I am too predictable in my unpredictability”. I could not think of something more appropriate than this to define me.

However, I realized Self-knowledge is the most powerful yet rarest form in our times. We are so involved in knowing and exploring the outside world that we forget to look inside. All our desires and dreams are inspired from the conformity with the popular. I believe there comes a time in everyone’s life where all things feel superficial, where we happen to explore the ‘I’ inside us….But we are too afraid to take on this journey, too afraid to meet the real ‘Me’ because the fear of unknown rules us.

would you dare to take on this journey of self discovery? If yes, there is a possibility you might surprise yourself with it. Go for it. 

kismet

Sesquiotica

Ah, kismet. The ineluctable, inescapable, yet somehow eternally exotic fate. What has been decided for you by God, your every move just like a chesspiece until, finally… mate.

Mate? You are mated. You kiss your mate. Kiss me, mate: it’s kismet. The attraction is more than merely cosmetic. Though it be a bridging of a chasm, it will take you to the other side surely. Kismet makes no mistake.

Kismet is fate, sure, but fate with an air of the exotic: Baghdad and baggy pants, perhaps – a 1950s version, not the 2000s. Kismet is redolent of foreign spices, as much korma as karma, not mere garlic but a right forest of foreign spices. Which ones? Doesn’t matter, as long as they have an exciting otherness. When you fall in love, after all, you project so many of your own desires on the other person, just as when you swoon…

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Change

(This post is not well written, its just a first draft to write down different thoughts going through my mind)

What I like about change is, it is permanent, constant, new, uncertainty. The routine life and the predictability puts an end to the excitement for something new, hope for better. Whereas the uncertainty gives unlimited scope for the good and bad yet to come.

November is love, the harbinger of change, the renaissance point where life takes a turn for the better. Like the previous year, a new job, new people, new beginnings mark the start of this month. From journalistic writing to academic last year, here I am in advertising this year. Writing, my one and only inspiration, that brought me here. The freedom to use my ideas with creative play of freedom was enough to make me choose this job. But advertising is so much different and fun industry.

I like the fact that I will get to improve my writing, my editing and proofreading in this job – things which have been neglected for over a year in the last job. There was a time I could write 1000 words within 20 minutes but now, it has become difficult to pen down even 100 words.

Things have changed drastically over these two years….I have experience a whole new learning but still could not find it satisfying. Maybe, I can’t track down my progress…maybe the bitter experience and harsh realities of life have dawned on me at wrong time…maybe I had stopped looking ahead and achieving ….maybe I became too adaptable to my circumstances..or just maybe….

But now, I am grateful things are going as per my instinct….I am experiencing 360 degree change with this new job.The nature of work, the people and the environment is quite the opposite to last one but yes, its uncertain. There is this element of unknown which is yet to be discovered. As long as the drive to discover the unknown is there, I am here, ready to learn and take a different look at life…from a creative perspective this time. And the journey begins here……..till the next change comes.

Journalism Today?

What constitutes good or bad journalism is a debate for some other time, but the bigger question here is: what essentially is journalism today? As a media graduate, I find it quite overwhelming and at times confusing how the news makers have become the consumers and vice versa. Although the innovation calls for greater interactivity, it puts a big question mark on the responsible and credible nature of journalism – especially in our country.

Before I proceed, I must tell that I am severely criticized for being critical of the local media and the practices of journalism in Pakistan. I acknowledge that our media is still in its infancy stage and would take more time to develop but I do think also that the initial years are very critical for anything to take on the right course. Ironically, such is not the case in Pakistan.

First of all, let’s talk about electronic media – the over expanding business reflecting our free society. From the current affairs programs to the re-enactments and essentially the news, there are serious flaws in relation to authenticity, objectivity and ethical practices of journalism. Taking on the example of PTI’s Azadi March, the opinion of the two big channels seems conflicted on the same issue. Does journalism in any way gives the news makers the authority to be pro or anti of a situation or even take it to personal level? I think there are more intellectual people to answer this one.

Now take a look at social media: the magic tool to bring you all the news, essentially rumors, today. With the interactivity and accessibility of social media, the role of journalists has expanded beyond the traditional means. Now, we have got the option not just to deliver news but also to communicate one’s thoughts and encourage public discourse and literacy. Not only journalist, but all the other users have got the option to have their say in bigger events in the country. But as much as this has delivered the news makers and people the option to spread the right word, it has become a propagating tool for the wrong and malicious content. The option for easy content generation has also paved the way for sensationalism which contradicts the very essence of journalism. Although it is easy to understand the naivety on the part of general public to believe everything they see and then share on social media; it is sinister for the media personnel to do the same. The very quality of ‘being skeptical‘ seems to be somewhat lost amongst the journalist, whether a freelancer or on-field, which put questioning the information on a later stage. I daily see updates on social media which are found to be not true but shared in greater numbers.

The default lies not only in the practice of journalism in our society but also in teaching journalism. Telling the theoretical perspective of the media is not enough in a content-driven environment today. There is a need to reinvent our perspective on journalism studies while incorporating the essentials of taking the lead in a changing environment. We must know that what journalism was a decade ago is not what it is today. The good and bad thing about journalism is: it is ever changing – but our academic strategies are still the same.

As affiliated with an academic institute of Media Studies and an enthusiast of journalism, I feel responsible to contribute to the development of this profession. Why couldn’t we take a more critical and analytical approach to teach the future generation the rights and wrongs of journalism, to not just be a voice but a distinctive one, to identify with greater journalism goal of public interest rather than corporate or personal interest. Yes we can, and it is high time we realize this too. Ours is not the only nation that has more in the name of ‘distracting-news-content‘ but we should now move towards better now than popularizing the cause of ‘Free (notorious) media‘. We can learn from Stony Brook University’s “News-Literacy” class and can apply similar models here. This might take time but would definitely initiate a process; a right in the right direction.

A little about Me

I tried to drift away for a longer while but writing seems to be my one and only refuge. I don’t write to inspire but just to reflect and build on my understanding of the real world. Being enthusiastic about commenting on major news event, I prefer to write what strikes me the most (sports, technology, politics, movies or relationships). It can take days to find something inspiring or just a moment to pen down a long prose because words and thoughts don’t come by easily.

As for now, I don’t want to limit this blog entirely to news and its commentary but rather to every other thought that can contribute to my better evolution as a writer and journalist. I would welcome the feedback of all who would like to help me on this journey and would appreciate the criticism to improve my work.

I am not sure how long will I go further from here but want to go as far as it takes to establish a reputation of a good journalist/writer because that is what essentially I was born to do. I might have started late but I believe there is no better day than today to begin with.

Choice

Be careful and walk slow

World is worse there, don’t you ever go

I asked how you know

They said that’s the conventional flow

I argued, you might be wrong

They said, the wise believed that for long

I objected to explore and walk my way

They said, you will falter and go astray

I reiterated my decision to take the risks

They said; better live with regret than going that way

I was unconvinced to their call

They said someday you will fall

I said, your perspective is small

They said, you don’t know it all

With an unchanged mine, I decided to go

and a loud laughter then followed

ARE THE TELECOM OPERATORS LISTENING TO US?

Over the last decade, Pakistan witnessed a booming telecom industry with many new players entering the arena. Not only the number of telecom operators increased but also the competition for customer retention and customer attraction. Since customer needs are ever evolving with the technological innovations, the telecom operators can not just sit back and enjoy. Hence, we see the introduction of new services every other day in the market where each cellular service provider seeks to bring something ‘different and innovative’.  But are these services any good from customers’ point of view?

There is little denying in the fact that telecom operators have greatly enhanced the customers’ experience with their newly introduced services while catering to the needs of customers. This reflects how much attention they are paying to their customers.

Today, our focus is on such a newly introduced service by Warid telecom with the name of ‘Warid Talky’. Read on to know how it can be useful for bringing the change in one’s mobile communication.

Warid talky

Although Warid ranks number 5th – the last – among cellular operators in the country; it has remained increasingly active with its services. The Warid talky is such a service to enhance the mobile experience of average Pakistani mobile user, with better accessibility to deliver the message.

To say briefly, Warid talky is a voice messaging service that will enable Warid customers to send on-net and off-net voice messages. The service can be of immense use in the context of Pakistani society due to following reasons.

First of all, as much as the security conditions have worsened in recent times the need for instant communications has increased. Many can type 150 character messages within seconds of time but that does not hold true for all the mobile users in the country. In case of emergency, call becomes a more wise option than message to reach the desired person. But what if one don’t have the minimum balance to make a call? Here, voice messaging can be more feasible than SMS for both the sender and receiver. This will not only save the time for typing but also will help in fixing the typo errors that may result in changing the subject of the message.

In addition to this, the service would be beneficial to a large number of population who can not read or write. With the literacy rate of below 50%, many mobile users in the country can not afford to utilize the messaging services because of their inability to read and write. Hence, Warid talky will provide the chance to communicate with others through a less costly channel of voice messaging.

With the Smartphone apps taking on the market and enhancing both written and voice communication; Warid Talky seems a positive step on the part of cellular service providers to come up with something in this regard. The mobile calls are comparatively expensive than the messages but are more effective means of communication. In regard to this, Warid aims to make voice communication more feasible and cost effective. The service will be charged Rs. 0.6+tax/30 seconds which is much less than the average call rate.

With Warid taking a step towards voice communication, we have to see what might come next from the other players in the industry in this regard. For now, it is certain the competition seems to be fuelling more in near future.

(The article was written for Rasala Publications Brand, CIOPakistan)

TECH GIANTS TAKE ON COMPETITORS WITH POWERFUL ADVERTISNG

Powerful advertising is always persuasive, well-targeted and creative. If an ad campaign fails to meet any of these goals, it would utterly fail. But the persuasion angle in advertising seems to be changing these days –to persuade consumers to denounce competitor’s products while focusing on its negative traits.

Like all the business verticals, advertising holds immense importance in the advertising industry. And with the changing trends, the bad blood between the tech giants seems to be pouring in the advertising too. Today, we will take how tech-companies are using the most creative –maybe ridiculous –advertising techniques to denounce the competitor’s products.

Poking fun at the competitors

Today our focus will be on Apple vs. All –Samsung, Google, Nokia etc –advertising that has emerged in recent days, much after the iPhone 5. The new innovation from Apple has become as much ‘centre of attraction’ for its competitors as for its consumers. And it all lead us to anti-Apple advertisement that has emerged to poke fun at Apple’s claims –The best Smartphone in the world. Before we can proceed, let us remind you the focus here is not whether iPhone 5 is the best Smartphone ever or whether its competitors are better. It is how one can use the advertising communication to push its competitors down despite introducing a new product every time.

One of the bitter foes of Apple –most competitive though –is Samsung. The Cupertino Company pins much hope on iPhone 5 to win back its glory after Samsung Galaxy SIII stormed the Smartphone market. With the extravagant launch of iPhone 5, Samsung could not afford to stay quiet. Hence, it slams iPhone 5 directly with ‘It doesn’t take a genius’ advertisement. The print ad becomes a much talked about advertisement on social media, raging a war of words between Apple and Samsung fans. Samsung mocks at Apple’s new innovation for ‘not being any new’ in the market. The ad features iPhone 5 and SIII head-to-head, with SIII beating its rival with more and better features. Whether it really is the case, Samsung knows very well to play in advertising –no matter unfair. And to more undermine the new device, the ad reads “The Next Big thing is already here” with Galaxy SIII written below.

Besides Samsung, Google is also one of the greatest foes of Apple and it jumped into the advertising game with its ‘iLost ad’. Thanks to newly introduced iOS 6 maps which provided a chance to Google to show how it is ahead of Apple. The ad was first posted on Google+ along with a satirical comment that reads: “Looking for 315 E 15th in Manhattan? Google Maps on Droid Razr M will get your there and not #iLost in Brooklyn.” The ad comes at the right time to show how superior Google mapping services are than iOS –for the time being Apple can only try to fix these problems as soon as possible.

The reason behind the advertising not only shows that Apple has become an old, boring player in the industry; on the contrary, it may very well highlight the rising fear on the part of its competitors from its newly introduced ‘iPhone 5.’

Will it be any good?

The raging war of the tech giants entering the advertising arena shows how desperate are the players involved to denounce their competitor. Since advertising is a very powerful platform to influence the consumer preferences, it may very well benefit them. The popularity of Samsung ads on social networks can very well help it to win Apple customers –it might not be possible also. It shows also that today it is not only about innovation but utilizing the innovative ways of marketing.

But to the very extent it also depicts how insecure and fearful are the top-notch players in the industry of their rivals. Since technology world is ever changing, fear to lose one position is quiet comprehensible in these scenarios. Moreover, it also shows how meaningful advertising is in shaping the competition of the technology industry.

To say the least, it seems the advertising done by Apple rivals is inspired from the following quote of Bernice Fitz-Gibbon:

“A good ad should be like a good sermon: It must not only comfort the afflicted, it also must afflict the comfortable.”

(The article was written for Rasala Publications Brand, PCWorld Pakistan)