'No Newspaper for 21 Days?' As Coronavirus Lockdown Kicks in, Uncertainty Plagues Print Media

Image for representation. (Getty Images)

Image for representation. (Getty Images)

Even though media has been put under essential services, which means that the service will not be affected during the lockdown, many complained that they did not receive any newspapers.

Sana Fazili
  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: March 25, 2020, 1:53 PM IST
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The night after Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of a complete 21-day-long lockdown in view of COVID-19 pandemic across the country, many Indians woke up to the fact that newspapers were not delivered on their doorsteps.

Even though media has been put under essential services, which means that the service will not be affected during the lockdown, many people complained that they did not receive any newspapers.

“Got no newspapers today. I subscribe to 10. Anyone know why (sic),” journalist Swati Chaturvedi said in a tweet. There were many other people on the micro-blogging website who made a similar complaint.

Another netizen from Vadodra claimed that the police had said the distribution of newspapers has been stopped for the time being. “Did not get newspaper in Vadodara today. Yesterday city police had issued advisory on their social media page that newspaper delivery is not allowed (sic),” said the tweet.

PM Modi in his address to the nation on Tuesday evening announced a complete lockdown for 21 days to arrest the spread of the Coronavirus which has claimed 11 lives so far in India and the number of cases has spiked to 562. He, however, maintained that the essential supplies will be maintained and there will no shortage.

In view of the virus scare, many resident welfare associations in Delhi had already banned the entry of outsiders in the apartment societies, a move deemed necessary for social distancing. Some had even asked the vendors to stop delivering newspapers for some time as it may spread infection, even though there is no clarity if newspapers are carriers of the infection.

According to reports, no newspapers have been printed in the financial capital Mumbai for the third consecutive day today as the vendors refused to deliver newspapers over fears of contracting the infection.

Outlook magazine, too, has suspended its print edition in view of the pandemic situation, even though its digital edition will continue to operate.

As the print editions of several newspapers are not reaching the subscribers, people are likely to turn to the online editions to remain updated. But what does this change mean for the Print media which was already at the receiving end in view of digital media boom?

"Lockdowns and curfews — important and necessary measures to stop the extremely contagious virus jumping from person to person — mean we cannot distribute the print version of your magazine," Outlook’s editor-in-chief Ruben Banerjee wrote in a post on the Outlook website. "Even if we print it for record’s sake, it will be mere tokenism."

Banerjee said that the magazine will hit the stands again once the situation becomes ‘conducive’.

"As a matter of fact, I am looking to the time when we win this war against the pandemic, we are all safe, and Outlook magazine is back as an integral part of your life," he wrote.

Outlook, Times of India’s Mumbai edition, Mid-day are some of the media publications which have suspended their print operations for the time being.

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