Ranjona Banerji: Can DNA get back into your dna?

02 Apr,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The most welcome aspect of today’s news is the return of the edit page to DNA. The page was done away with a couple of years ago but returns – together with a re-design – in the April 2, 2013 edition of the newspaper.

 

Rumours suggest that it was the arrival of new CEO Bhaskar Das which brought the edit page back but there is no way of confirming that and it could well be a decision taken by the new editorial dispensation – one of the many which DNA has had in its lifespan of almost eight years. Either way, the prognosis is positive.

 

The edit page is called ‘dna of thought’ – a clear tip of the hat to the domination of the internet and its language, as is evident in ‘dna of mumbai’ and so on. There are two leaders – as is the trend these days – and two columns. Or, that is, it is too early to tell whether the lead article will be an analysis on current affairs rather than a comment as it is now. Cartoonist Manjul is the lead on the edit page with his ‘Politickle’ comment. A section called ‘net pickings’ presents snapshots of columns and opinions from around the world and there’s the mandatory nod to ‘positive thinking’, usually beloved of newspaper owners who feel or are told by their friends and family that their “products” are too negative.

 

On the whole, the return to the edit page is an excellent decision. It anchors the newspaper and makes its own viewpoint clear to the reader. In fact, the second edit the welcoming the IPL is a refreshing change from all the usual fake breast-beating that this cricket tournament brings. (Also ironic, as IPL was verboten in DNA for first season because the then part-owner of DNA had started the Indian Cricket League!) As to why DNA stopped the edit page, those interested in history can look back at a discussion at the Mumbai Press Club which was organised by exchange4media when mxmindia.com founder-editor Pradyuman Maheshwari was editor there:

http://www.exchange4media.com/40971_edit-page-gone-with-the-winds-of-change.html

 

As far as the whole paper is concerned, the design will take some getting used to. Every DNA page always had too many elements in my opinion – a complaint I made even when I worked there – and now that has been compounded by a plethora of fonts. However, I also find Hindustan Times to be a bit cluttered as far as design goes and I have got used to that. DNA is clearly looking to blend with the digital media as well as with up the branding quotient – the DNA name is repeated in various forms through the newspaper. The concept of a large front page photograph is great – if they stick to it.

 

I rather like the gimmick of having the old style on the front page which then reveals the new look as you turn the page and get a letter from the editor. It says, among other things, “…we have made the new paper more navigable, readable and classier”. The website is also going to be more “responsive” which means all that phone-tablet stuff.
There are few questions for the newspaper. DNA was once the second-read paper in the city of Mumbai by a pretty good margin, until it lost that advantage to Hindustan Times. Will this design help to regain its status or is it just window dressing? The content has not so far changed and unless that improves no design can save you. And how do you re-engage with readers who have moved on from you?

 

DNA has many challenges ahead. One can only hope for the sake of the industry that it will find a way to fight an effective battle.

I have to confess here at the end that I worked for DNA for some years, soon after it was launched. Most of that, as it happens, on the edit page!

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Can DNA get back into your dna?”

  1. Ismat says:

    enjoyed this column!

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