Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt disoriented if you couldn’t find the newspaper? Or if you just find a part of it and had to hunt all over the house to see who had the other half? Chances are many of us have experienced such situations and have our own quirks and associations with the newspaper. We start our day by reading the news, sipping on a cup of tea. It is one of the oldest and most common routines that transcend households around the globe.
Our childhood initiated us into this routine through the comic strip section and as we grew older we moved towards the other more ‘grown up’ sections. Before we knew it, the newspaper became an integral part of our morning daily routine – one for which we would go to any length – like reading the back of someone else’s newspaper on an early morning flight. As journalist Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) said: “Routines are made up of a three-part “habit loop”: a cue, a behavior and a reward. Understanding and interrupting that loop is key to breaking a habit.”
But habits do change and give way to new behaviour which then become new habits. Technology has always been a key factor in creating new behaviour. In our times, technology is changing the idea of time itself. Time is no longer a place to be or a schedule for acts and activities. Technology has empowered our idea of time and allows us to control time at our convenience. With smart phones and social media we live in a more connected world and we consume time at our own whims.
In the case of the newspaper, technology has not only changed the habit of reading but has changed the way in which we express and the forms in which we consume news. In fact, in this digital age, technology has made all of us both consumers and producers of news. We all tweet, update status, keep ‘our’ world informed of our life and comment on the worlds happenings.
For many Indians connected 24/7 with the digitized world, a newspaper is an also-read device that fills us up with latest advertising and obituaries. The newspaper in India is still miles away from being redundant in India, for in India newspapers serve so many different purposes. Old newspapers fetch us some bucks from scrap dealers, they serve as a protective layer in our cupboards, and sometimes we wrap food in it and maximize its worth. However some Urban Indian homes will surely do without it and find newspapers online and on apps. They will read curated content and will build and live in a bubble of their own at their own time too.
What remains interesting to watch is how this new behaviour will encourage many people to join in? How this will give rise to newer habits? What will replace the morning newspaper reading time? Will twitter become the new public space and adda where Indians opine and profess? Or will an entirely new social or virtual platform evolve? Will families still congregate and share what news they picked or will it be re-tweeted or shared? How will marketers address this new behaviour?
In a nation of paradoxes wherein the world’s largest selling English broadsheet is published in India and yet the same newspaper doesn’t figure among the top selling newspapers in the country, every new trend, behaviour, outlook will find some niche, traction and followers. In a nation of 1.3 billion people even a small percentage makes for a substantial number to explore possibilities and opportunities. Newspapers are not going to die any time soon in this country, but every new trend, behavior or outlook is worth following and exploring till you find that unique thread that becomes a billion dollar idea.