Journalism Meets Marketing

In the print version, published in Gramin Sanchar, Vol. 1, No. 4 as:
Adhikary, N. M. (2011, April 17). Journalism meets marketing. Gramin Sanchar, p. 9.

Some opine that marketing tends to reduce the newspaper just like any other commodity at the cost of conventional responsibilities of journalism. However, there are others who consider that marketing would further strengthen the newspaper business thereby helping them to attain economic security and independence. According to such view, when journalism meets marketing, it reconsiders the significance of the audiences; however, in new perspective.

Commercial newspapers have two powerful and potentially conflicting obligations: to play a decisive informational role in their community’s life and to attract enough readers and advertisers to achieve financial stability. The dual nature of a commercial newspaper often forces uncomfortable compromises based on what the readers want, what the revenues will allow, and what the publisher expects. There are many newspaper experts, such as Joseph Pulitzer, who believe that the “profitability” is the only sure means to editorial autonomy and full independence for a commercial newspaper in a democratic society.

If we ask question what is journalism for? Then giving the answer is not so easy. The newspapers are mainly private, profit-making business with a special role: delivering information, opinion and entertainment to people. Thus newspapers have a social responsibility and are granted special freedoms protected by the Constitution. In other words a modern press or any type of media institution has a dual aspect: primarily, it is a medium of expression and communication of information and ideas; and it is also an industrial and business establishment that is carried on for profit.

The business/profit aspect of newspaper is getting more importance in these days. Likewise, the need of marketing and management approach in the newspaper business is accepted more and more. To meet various challenges, newspapers have been turned to marketing -the basic business function that has had helped other companies adapt to changing customers and environment. Various newspapers have changed their management functions as part of the incorporation of professional marketing.

The newspaper has been the public’s traditional source of news and the principal medium of advertising for business. But it enjoys no monopoly. The development of other means of imparting news and advertising means the newspaper must battle for its business. There are some basic factors that considered while evaluating the newspaper: annual volume of business, actual circulation, actual revenue per inch of advertising, goodwill and prestige, etc. After all, newspaper is a production that the circulation department has to sell. And, today newspaper circulation is recognized as commodity of value to advertisers. Newspaper publishing is a profession as well as a business. As a business newspapers survive by earning a profit.

In marketing term, a newspaper is also a “product”. We define a “product” as anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption and that might satisfy a want or need. Broadly defined, products include physical objects, services, events, persons, places, organizations, ideas, or mixes of these entities. Thus it is clear that products include more than just tangible goods in the context of marketing. Service is a form of product that consists of activities that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Marketing experts say that a company’s offer to marketplace often includes both tangible goods and services. Each component can be a minor or a major part of the total offer. At one extreme, the offer may consist of a pure tangible good, such as soap, toothpaste, or salt. At the other extreme are pure services, for example, a doctor’s checkup. Between the two extremes, however, many goods and services combinations are possible.

Today, as information become more and more commoditized, the need for creating value for customers of any newspaper is felt much more than ever before. So many newspaper publishers are moving to a new level in creating value for their customers. Customers are those who purchase the newspaper or space within it; they include readers and advertisers.

To differentiate their offers (that is the particular newspaper), publishers are trying to develop and deliver total customer experience. Whereas products and services are external, experiences are personal and take place in the minds of individual consumers. Newspaper businessmen that market experiences realize that customers are really buying much more than just a printed-paper while purchasing a newspaper. They are buying what those “products” will do for them- the experiences they gain in purchasing and consuming these newspapers.

Research on why readers use mass media has found that media satisfy dozens of psychological needs such as cognitive needs, affective needs, intra-personal integrative needs, and interpersonal integrative needs. Research revealed that readers use mass media also for escapist needs related to easing tension. As a product, newspaper purchase and use represent a conscious decision, whether habitual or new, made by someone with a particular goal in mind. Knowing what those goals are aids circulation sales. When developing products, marketers first must identify the core consumer needs the product will satisfy. They must then design the actual product and find ways to augment it in order to create the bundle of benefits that will best satisfy consumers.

Some opine that marketing tends to reduce the newspaper just like any other commodity at the cost of conventional responsibilities of journalism. However, there are others who consider that marketing would further strengthen the newspaper business thereby helping them to attain economic security and independence. According to such view, when journalism meets marketing, it reconsiders the significance of the audiences; however, in new perspective.

Adhikary is Assst. Professor of Media Studies in Kathmandu University and member of the UNESCO Steering Committee for the Media Development Indicator (MDI) Assessment Research 2011. He has authored/edited more than two-dozen books. Formerly, he was the Head of the Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication in Madan Bhandari Memorial College, Kathmandu.
Email: nirmalam.adhikary@gmail.com

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