Shekhar Gupta of The Indian Express speaks on the business of journalism

Mohali: Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-chief of The Indian Express engaged the ISB students and the staff in a lively discussion on whether good journalism is bad business at Mohali campus. Gupta has worked with some of the best known publications and has been associated with some of the major news stories of his generation. His lecture focused on the debate surrounding the profitability of journalism, a question Gupta claimed he wasn’t entirely sure he could answer and hoped that his lecture would throw some more light on the issue.

Good journalism is an end in itself and it does not matter whether it is good or bad for business, began Gupta. "However, the state of the media business in India today is interesting – in contrast to the slowdown of other industries, there have been a slew of acquisitions in media, most notably Aditya Birla’s acquisition of Living Media and Reliance’s investment in TV18. Both companies were floundering and the stock prices of broadcast companies have plummeted. However, media consumption, even print media, is growing faster in India than anywhere is in the world, " he said.

He further discussed the contrasts in the challenges faced by television and print journalism. Since news channels on television are competing with entertainment channels for the same eyeballs, advertising prices are lower for news channels and in attempt to gain more viewers, there is often an attitude of "never mind the facts." He elaborated that good journalism requires editorial intermediation, but very often in India, journalism is good business rather than good journalism being a good business. He peppered his talk with examples from his long experience on the field -- from elections in Assam during Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership to the 2002 Gujarat riots and from the 26/11 incident to the Lokpal bill movement he spoke about the mistakes that were made and how the press has since learned from the errors.

Gupta ended by noting that the markets respect trust and that what is trusted also sells in the marketplace. "Journalism that is not correct is after all only advertising and when you can not tell the difference between advertising and journalism you are not likely to pay for either – ultimately, good journalism is good for business," he concluded.