By - Rabi Takhellambam
Even as the internet is a blessing for the modern world, it is not so for newspaper hawkers. Reason – most people get newspapers before the hawkers brought them to their doors. After all people don’t have to pay the bill in reading newspaper on cell phone or computer which have internet connection. Almost people today can access internet with a simple smartphone which is affordable by even a person who live on hand to mouth and the newspaper are available through various social networking site as well as apparatus designed for news portal.
Newspaper subscribers has tremendously reduced in the last couple of months particularly in rural areas, Tomba a hawker in Tairenpokpi in Thoubal district told this journalist.
“Earlier I use to have nearly 200 subscribers now the number has reduced to almost half”, Tomba said adding that he is worried that by next year he might loss more subscribers.
“I think I better change my job as I have a family to feed”, he added.
Newspaper hawkers are the most important component of print media industry particularly in the state of Manipur. They brave cold winter season, summer heats and the rainy days and distribute the newspaper to subscribers and that too by buying on cash payment from the newspaper houses. One time the hawkers are so important that media houses were left with no choice but to stop publication if they announced holiday for themselves. Print media use to stop publication during Yaoshang festival for five days (the longest Holiday of newspaper) as hawkers refuse to distribute during the festival.
When asked what make them think of losing their job when print media are advancing more with the advent of the internet, Tomba’s simple answer – “It is the App call ‘Telegram’ in the Whatsapp”. Almost all newspaper are available in the Telegram App and that at the time newspaper was dropped to their doors some simply said that they had read it.
“May be hawkers in Imphal area won’t have that much problem that we in the rural area are facing as they can distribute it earlier, however as for us we received the newspaper for distribution in late evening”, Tomba said.
Tomba is an educated person and he knows the benefit of internet. He don’t have any problem with media houses opening web portal but what affect his work is the uploading of full page e-newspaper in PDF format which can be shared in social networking site.
Tomba said that if newspaper houses can put a restriction to the uploading of newspaper even by taking photo at early hours then somehow the hawkers could be saved.
There are many ways that web portal can generate revenue, but the revenue that they generate from web portal can’t be compared with the income they generate from hard copy print newspaper. Before both the hawkers and media houses lost their way of earning it is time that the media houses owners frame strict regulations not to allow people to share their newspaper through social networking site using any means.
Rabi Takhellambam, a resident of Kairembikhok Mayai Leikai, ThoubaI District has been in the field of Journalism for more than 10 years. Rabi, is well known for his reporting from Thoubal side and Indo-Myanmar border. Rabi is also a member of All Manipur Working Journalist Union, the parent body of Journalist Union in Manipur. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]