Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Bennett Coleman & co (the publishers of the Times of India) would have us believe it is launching Mumbai's first "co-created newspaper". This, 2 months after DNA - Daily News and Analysis from the Zee-Bhaskar group - had plastered Bombay with its hoardings asking you to help create its soon-to-be launched newspaper.

No doubt the DNA survey is more an exercise in making people feel their opinions matter than a serious exercise in market research. But, you know it has actually taken place. You've seen the surveyers in their purple uniforms, they've rung your doorbell - or that of someone you know.

On the other hand, Bennett's 'massive direct contact program' is something I have learnt of through an article published on page 1 of today's Times of India.

This does not mean that the almost-ready-for-launch Mumbai Mirror will not live upto its claim of being the 'first paper designed for - and by - the young Mumbai reader'. You don't have to survey 11 lakh people to design such a paper.

The Mumbai Mirror has a good - and young - team in place which may well deliver on its promise of being a no-nonsense paper for the young.

But in the same spirit of no-nonsense, why this nonsense that we-too-have-done-a-survey. The 'survey' idea is owned by DNA, by trying to appropriate it you become a me-too.

Secondly, whatever survey Bennett undertook was at a scale far smaller than DNA. Hence it is likely to be viewed as a false or exaggerated claim. Which again is something young people are extremely allergic to.

To thine own self...
In actual fact, the 'Mumbai Mirror' survey is a door-to-door sales exercise. Says a student who is on the sales team," We are going to housing societies with the dummy copy and signing up subscribers. It is Re 1/- per day ie Rs 30 per month and we have to get a minimum of 8 subscriptions a day or we don't get paid for that day's work."

Bottomline: If 'Mumbai Mirror' is to truly 'cut the faff and connect with the new reader of today' - as is its stated intention - it needs to treat the young with a great deal more respect!
And it first needs to look into the mirror and be true to itself.


  1. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Having a youth oriented paper isnt a bad idea, hopefully it wont have more adverts than real content. One thing i don't understand is why do papers such as the Times or Hindustan use titles such as "GEN X or Y" for Youth? I mean what the heck does that mean?
    btw you are right bout treating the young with more respect.


  2. There are very few articles, leave aside entire newspapers, that capture the essence of the "Indian" youth. To those conducting surveys, newspaper big-wigs and everyday janta alike Indian youth means the following:
    1. BPO job hunters
    2. SMS junkees
    3. LAN gaming dudes
    4. Night club addicts
    5. Struggling actors
    6. Study Abroad geeks
    My listing above is in no way a comprehensive picture, nor will any survey ever be. The point is that which "youth" paper today is looking beyond these stereotypes? Which newspaper provides information about courses in Agriculture, Philosophy and Dance as much as it propagates MBA at XYZ University in the UK? How many graduates in Journalism from Indian Universities are actually involved in the creation of these youth newspapers and if they are, why isn't creative liberty, social consciousness and the zeal to better the Indian way of life, coming across?
    The Indian youth, the workforce behind the DNA data collectors gathered at the small park in Bandra (W) every morning, the gang of Engineers that have coffee at Hiranandani Gardens at 3:30 am while on a break from the graveyard shift at e-Serve, the young lawyers running behind auto rickshaws at Bandra court, needs a medium of expression more than another SMS-based 'reality' show. If there truly is a newspaper that provides this avenue... sign me up.

  3. although I can't claim to be "youth" anymore, I think that having a "cool" paper means a paper designed and administered by cool paper, which does not mean young people necessarily...I mean if I could read Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and Tom Peters in a paper I might find it cool...

    Media publications devote too much time to surveys which churn out the same rotten data without "insight" ! No pathbreaking idea is ever going to emerge from a media entity that came from a survey report...people really don't know what is cool beforehand...so asking them what they want in a paper/mag/channel is a stupid idea...imagine if they had done a survey on "What is the kind of VJ you would like?" do you think we'd ever have a Cyrus Broacha?

  4. Anonymous11:18 PM

    All said and done,why does a newspaper like the TOI has to introduce a 'Youth oriented paper' in the first place is a big question!Does it want to say that they are now going to print stuff just for the people who fall above thier definition of 'young'?or is it another of thier 'Zoom'ing ventures aimed at setting a red carpet for thier mega-IPO in the future?....Madness said it all...we dont need a newspaper that speaks about us...we need a newspaper that speaks for us...absolutely right to say the young need more respect.

  5. TOI will somehow remain TOI. It reminds of so many familiar, yet, corny campaigns by them.

    Somehow, these newspaper wars are giving me a nice feeling...

    Hopefully we will have some great news to read than just page 3 stuff...


    PS: By the way, I just bought a JAM today.. will start writing something soon. Its been a long time...

  6. It’s been exactly a week today (June 6, 2005) since Mumbai Mirror launched with much fanfare. Prior to its launch on May 30, I was very anxious to lay my hands on a copy of Mumbai Mirror. This was basically for two reasons:
    1. It's a product from The Times of India stable and
    2. Since I myself was a SENIOR COPY EDITOR with The Times of India, I have a lot of sentiments attached and still hold the organisation in high regard.

    But after closely going through the first few issues, I feel Mumbai Mirror has been far from impressive. Even in today's issue, I spotted certain errors, which were unpardonable. I use the word 'unpardonable' here as over the past one week I have noticed numerous such mistakes in the online edition.

    The first error was in the story titled 'Small Peg' and the second one was in another story titled 'Hollywood rip-offs return' by Subhash K. Jha.
    In the story titled ‘Small Peg’ 'biggest' has been spelt as 'bgiggest'. And in the other story 'Hollywood rip-offs return', ‘Re run’ has been spelt as ‘re-runn’ with an extra ‘n’ and that too in the intro. How can a copy contain a mistake in the intro and that too a copy written by Subhash K. Jha? I am sure every film buff would have definitely gone through this write-up. In the same copy ‘Bollywood’ has been spelt as ‘Bollywod’.

    These mistakes, on a regular basis, can seriously hurt a newspaper's reputation. During my one-year stint with TOI the thing that I learnt the most was "QUALITY COMES FIRST". Why is this absent in Mumbai Mirror?? Considering the competition in the Mumbai newspaper scene, I hope the Mumbai Mirror editorial fastens its seat belts soon. I sincerely hope Mumbai Mirror doesn't fail in the "DNA" test.

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Disqus for Youth Curry - Insight on Indian Youth