Suspending publication for a dayUnderstanding Ad revenue
This was the first time and there was nothing desirable about it. No major newspaper in Manipur hit the newsstand on December 16 following a cease work strike called by the Editors’ Guild Manipur and the Manipur Hills Journalists Union on December 15 to lodge a strong protest against the failure of the BJP led Government to clear the outstanding bills incurred by way of Government funded advertisements. The message was simple enough. Silence obviously has its pluses and the press going silent for a day was meant to deliver a blow where it mattered and the Government seems to have been jolted by the blow that was delivered by just keeping mum. The silence seems to have jolted the Government to its senses if the hectic preparations being made, at the initiative of the Chief Minister himself, is anything to go by. This is not the first time that the media has shut shop to ring out a message but this is the first time, at least in the 22 years old history of The Sangai Express, that the media has preferred to go mum against the indifference of the Government and this is where the BJP led Government will seriously need to sit down and look back at where it went wrong. In N Biren Manipur has a former Editor as the Chief Minister, a man experienced in the field of journalism and one wonders how things came to such a pass that the media here had to shut shop, even if for a day only. This is where serious deliberations are needed and let this be the first and last time for the media to go mum to lodge a strong protest against what it deems is the indifference of the Government. Now with the Government having responded positively to the loud protest by going silent, one hopes that the finer points of running a newspaper is not lost on the people who matter. Not surprising that there have been some dissenting voices from some of the concerned citizens of the land on the press suspending publication for one day, and this is perhaps where a little explanation is called for.
Let it be very clear that media professionals are not a bunch of pressure groups or rag tag army. The newspaper which reaches the readers everyday to be on time with their morning cuppa comes with a printed price of Rs 4.50 paise for a 12 paged newspaper. Others with lesser number of pages may come at a lower price. Then again for a newspaper with a selling price of Rs 4.50 paise, it is handed over to the distributor or hawker at Rs 3 per copy with Rs 1.50 paise left as the commission for the delivery boy or hawker. This said, let it register in the minds of the readers that the ink, newsprint (the paper of the newspaper), colour, power consumption etc all means huge expenditure. In such a reality, advertisement is the oxygen that keeps a newspaper breathing and live and it is from the revenue earned through advertisement that the expenses and salary of the staff are met. And when one talks about the raw material needed to publish the day’s paper, let it also dawn on the consciousness of the people, particularly the avid readers that the cost of a truckload of newsprint shoots up when it arrives at Imphal. The unseen, unacknowledged cost is stupendous. The same thing carries for the other raw materials such as ink, colour ingredients etc. Advertisement revenue from the private bodies is almost negligible, unlike the major newspapers published in other parts of the country where there can be handsome revenues from the corporate bodies. This point should also be acknowledged by the State Government. Failure to pay the outstanding advertisement bills to the different newspaper houses will amount to striking a stand ‘Let the media bat on its own, we will pay when it is at our convenience’ and nothing can be more farcically tragic than this. Let the outstanding dues be cleared immediately so that media professionals can go back to their job and resume their duty of keeping the people informed, including the Government. Amen