Sorry once again

Graph courtesy: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity

The first round of Congressional hearings of the joint Senate Judiciary and the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Facebook data privacy case was held on Tuesday 13th April. A barrage of questions directed at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were faced with customary guile. They were all soft questions that allowed Zuckerberg to explain how FB works. Zuckerberg was profusely apologetic as expected, but did not shy away from giving evasive answers. In fact, he did a fairly professional job of jumping over booby traps, and avoided revealing how Facebook tracks user data from site to site and device to device. He also avoided disclosing how Facebook analyzes the user data that is consolidated by it into commercial information, packaged and provided on the platform and used by thousands of advertisers such as Cambridge Analytica across the world. But these are early days. Analysts state that the US Congressional hearings always begin on a soft note allowing the respondent to give his version of the story without any hard cross-questioning initially.

So Zuckerbeg was allowed to apologize which he did, saying, “I am sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.” But there were few takers of his apology. Senator Blumenthal made it clear that lawmakers were not interested, saying, “We have seen this apology tour before” and by displaying an oversized poster board showing Zuckerberg and his previous apologies in 2006 and 2011. Even visitors at the hearing were unforgiving with young protestors wearing oversized sunglasses with ‘Stop Spying’ written in pink while others wore #DeleteFacebook T-shirts.

The Center for Public Integrity, which has been tracking the lack of privacy concerns in social media, cynically predicted the outcome of the congressional proceeding even before it started. Alvaro Bedoya, executive director at the center, said, “If we’ve learned anything from Facebook historically, it’s that they are willing to tell one story to the public and do something different behind the scenes.” The Center says ever since 2009 when Google, Facebook and Amazon started spending heavily on congressional lobbying, no law on privacy and security of data has been passed in the United States. The accompanying graph gives interesting data on lobbying with Washington power brokers that results in such cynicism. So consumers have little option today. Either #DeleteFacebook or Forget Privacy.


2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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