I waited for the second edition of Mumbai Mirror to hit the stands before venturing an opinion. Here it is.
The Mirror may scream itself hoarse 'we are not a tabloid, we are a compact' but the fact is it IS being benchmarked against Mid-day. In fact, Mid-day made a telling point in an ad it published on the back page yesterday which said: "This is the new idea for a paper the Times group has... We had it 25 years ago."
As for content. On day 1, both Mirror and Mid-day had the SAME story with a different headline: Ajitabh is writing a tell-all book on Amitabh.
On day 2, Mid-day - depending on which edition you pick up - has its usual tabloidy stories. The afternoon edition has a detailed graphical rendition of how a bullet entered a man's back and exited from the other side on page 1.
Mirror on the other hand has a 'serious' story on how insurance to policemen is being withdrawn because too many of them are popping off in accidents every year. I didn't think it had 'page 1 pull'.
What's the buzz
I asked a few young people what the buzz is on the Mirror and I quote:
"It has more to read than Mid-day... so good for train journeys. But Mid-day is Mid-day..."
"I picked it up today, just to see, but I am planning to stick to Mid-day".
"People are talking about Mirror because it has a lot of free stuff in it."
Yes, they do have 'lots of freebies' but considering that they have announced a 2 lakh print run, 150 free tickets at Fame Adlabs per day and 800 redemptions of iced tea at Tea Centre is not enough.
And all this can only help to get trials in the initial days - in the long run the paper has to attract loyal readers on its own steam. It also needs some kind of 'killer app'(Mid-day's growth, for many years, was fuelled by its page 3 'Mid-day Mate').
One positive point to note is that so far (except for the Planet M Rs 50 discount offer) there is no visible plugging of TOI group activities eg Radio Mirchi, Zoom, etc.
Personally, I think that:
a) It is amazing that Mirror has actually been launched in 3 months flat. Shows you that when the Times group wants to get something done it will not hesitate to pull out all the stops.
b) It is well designed - though I don't think the masthead is youthful enough. They could have gone for a sans serif font. (serif fonts are more old fashioned and fuddly duddy)
c) It is a good read - but not a compelling one. I don't know why - it just isn't.
Bottomline: Mid-day has a unique character which can be summed up in a single word: bindaas. Mirror, despite being competently and (quite interestingly) presented and produced will take time to develop a distinct attitude. The question is will it be given enough time - and space - to do that?
Watch this space tomorrow, for my view on that!