Newspapers will have to fight for survival
Marcus Brachuli occupies, arguably, the most powerful position in business journalism. As managing editor of the Wall Street Journal at 45, Brauchli is described as a change agent of the digital era. He was in India to participate in the HT Leadership Summit. He spoke to Vipul Mudgal on a variety of issues:
On the India that can be
India doesn’t need miracles. It has a vast resource of enormously talented people. The world recognizes that today. Nobody should bet against India. I am not an expert on the Indian economy but India’s growth story is real. High growth rate is sustainable when you make the right kind of decisions.
On India’s newspaper revolution
India has seen an enormous proliferation of newspapers. Its print industry publishes millions of papers, but that hardly seems sustainable. I think the industry is moving towards a consolidation. It will have to be more of a shakeout than mergers or buyouts. You are already feeling the pressure from the Internet, so the redundant newspapers will have to go. Young people are already more engaged with the Internet.
I have a half-baked theory that only one major newspaper will survive and people in influential positions will choose to read fewer papers. Right now, many newspapers are competing for the same reader. The same rule would apply to India’s regional and language press because the readers’ incomes would play a bigger role than their numerical strength. TV and Internet would leave very little time for newspapers everywhere.
On the global print industry
In most countries, including the US, there is room for one national paper. It will be like an island of clarity and authority in the vast and undifferentiated ocean of information. The dividing line between business and general interest newspaper is also blurring. Our goal at the Wall Street Journal is to provide the one newspaper you need to read. We also have a fairly engaged community of advertisers who see a great opportunity with us.
On Western papers franchising editions
We at the Wall Street Journal want to see quality before collaborating. We are very happy with our relationship with Mint (HT Media publication). It is very much the standard of the Wall Street Journal. We have to be very careful to allow our name to be franchised or licensed because we want to provide journalism of our standards.
On India’s national papers
They are among the truly independent newspapers of the world. They view their role as providers of information to decision makers in an unbiased way. They have undergone tremendous improvements since the early ’90s, which is quite visible to me. Clearly, competition drives change and makes us better.