The professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University spoke at the convocation of Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Friday

As traditional newspapers search for ways to stay relevant in the age of the Internet, news business is undergoing a transformation.

A radical restructuring will increasingly shift news access to online platforms, sometimes behind paywalls, said C.P. Chandrasekhar, professor of economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, on Friday.

He was delivering the ‘Lawrence Dana Pinkham Memorial Lecture 2013’ on ‘The Business of News in the Age of the Internet’ at the 13th convocation ceremony of the Asian College of Journalism.

Prof. Chandrasekhar said, alongside the shift to online news access, there could be a split between news sources that are global and those that are local. There will also be a divide between online ventures combining paywalls and advertising and those in which provision of news is a free add-on to a host of other services.

There could also be a closer alliance between technology ventures or Internet companies with a pricing and advertisement revenue-sharing pact to make news business viable. If successful, this could involve a redistribution of revenues between the news and Internet businesses, he said.

“How that will influence content, in terms of combination of fact and opinion, credible information and sensationalism, and progressive versus regressive viewpoints, is a matter for speculation,” Prof. Chandrasekhar said.

He noted that unfortunately, the behaviour of most print media businesses in mature markets had been countercyclical; ignoring the Internet when the times were good and rushing to it when things turned bad.

Sliding revenues and thinning margins had triggered cost and staff reduction. According to a Political and Economic Weekly report in the US, nearly a third of adults had stopped turning to a news outlet because it paled in comparison with what they were accustomed to, he said.

In India, the crisis was imminent but yet to arrive, said Prof. Chandrasekhar. This threw up a different set of questions: would the industry discipline itself and invest adequately in an online presence before the downturn comes, and find a workable business model.

More In: Chennai | News