The coronavirus pandemic is leaving impact everywhere in the societies. This is for the first time; people have possibly kept themselves locked at homes. Coronavirus has not only made everyone scared, but it certainly has generated health consciousness amongst many. In brief, coronavirus has already changed lifestyle of the people.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Bangladesh in March, people scared of the pandemic first turned allergic towards currency notes and then the printed edition of newspapers. No one was willing to touch a printed edition of the newspaper, as it was feared to be a vessel of the virus. Within a couple of weeks, circulation of the printed newspapers started declining while the digital version of every newspaper had seen rise in the number of readers. In Bangladesh, currently the number of mobile phone users is above 35 million, while most of them are having internet connectivity – meaning, they depend on their mobile phone sets for surfing on various social media sites, video sharing sites, and of course, news sites. During the coronavirus pandemic, number of readers of the online edition of every newspaper have significantly increased. In Blitz, we have seen a huge rise in the number of readers. For example, while in February, the number of daily readers were 100-150 thousand, in May the number has jumped to over half million.
The newspaper industry in the world has tried their best to convince people stating, printed newspapers are no virus carriers. But such campaign had also backfired. People did not buy the campaign of the newspaper industry and no one ever had returned to the print version.
Young generation in the West do not read printed newspapers for many reasons. They always depend on online edition.
In my opinion, the era of printed newspaper may soon come to an end and after the coronavirus, newspaper industry should be prepared for witnessing a massive slump in advertisement revenue as well as massive fall in circulation. This will continue for a few years, until the economy gets into normalcy and the fear of virus infection disappears from the minds of the people.
Even after a couple of years, if the printed edition of the newspapers sees their advertisement revenue and circulation returning to that or pre-coronavirus time, the younger generation, particularly those within the age range of 12-35, may not ever feel interested switching to the printed version of their favorite newspapers – ever. Meaning, the newspaper industry is actually going to embrace the digital era.
Millions of the printed-newspaper addicts must have already given up their desire of getting the smell of the printed newspaper alongside their morning tea or coffee. They already are reading news on their mobile phones or laptops. They may actually bid farewell to the printed newspaper for good.
During the post-coronavirus era, television channels will also suffer from lack of advertisements, which might force some of the channels in Bangladesh is going off-air. At least 25 percent of the existing television channels will shut down because of acute economic constraint as their income from advertisement will greatly decrease.
Meaning, a great time for the online editions of newspapers, especially those, which are not over-burdened with staffs and massive establishment costs.
Sohail Choudhury is the Executive Editor of Blitz