Dear MxM by Jaisurya Das: How could you stay in an org which pioneered Medianet?

01 Oct,2015

By Jaisurya Das

 

Just a few days ago I changed my profile picture on a popular social site. I didn’t realise however that this would evoke so much of negative response…

 

The contention being my ignorance/ error in judgment about the dynamics of pushing internet.org and the main contenders agenda for consolidation. I may be completely wrong but I certainly stick to what I did. I shall go back to the old picture (if you prefer seeing me without the tricolour!) but not

 

before I say what I have to….

 

Who does anything without an agenda ? Why would a company invest time and money if they get absolutely nothing from an activity or social initiative. Either it’s branding, or a soft sell of a brand/ service most often.

 

The point is that if at the end of it , if there is some tangible benefit to people at large, then it’s worth it. Why should we complain? If basic internet access will be given, then so be it. Are you and me going to be affected? No.

 

Propaganda works both ways and hence all the articles damning this entire free basic internet initiative could also be a well-orchestrated editorial plant. Right?

 

No, I don’t know anyone in these companies. I just speak my mind.

 

Give India a Chance. It’s about time.

 

And before I forget, it’s about time, I take you to our Q&A for the week.

 

As always, Your Questions, Our Answers. Candid yet true to heart.

 

Because We Care.

 

I just discovered last week that my editor carries readymade stories doled out to him by PR agencies with his own byline. I have always treated my editor like my god, he is my mentor. I am shaken. Please advise what I should do?

Error in judgment, my friend. However, don’t despair ; there are exceptions to the rule everywhere. Having said that, I completely understand how you feel about this disgusting habit.

 

It’s unfortunate that such practices thrive even today. The digital revolution has only made it easier I guess, what with ‘copy & paste’ and other ingenious marvels of the computing world taking over our lives.

 

Let me however assure you and our esteemed readers, that this is not how the industry works . Our fraternity has exceedingly competent journalists and content professionals who are more than capable of writing and captivating audiences.

 

The Crutch of Compromised Editorial Content is for the Incompetent.

 

I have been reading Dear MxM for several weeks and I find that you are very ethical. But since you worked with a newspaper group which pioneered  practices like Medianet and Private Treaties, how did you manage to stay on?

Your’e related to Shane Warne, aren’t you ??

 

I stayed on simply because I had a huge responsibility that I was committed to… launching and establishing the TOI Pune’s supremacy within 12 calendar months. For the sake of record, this was achieved in nine months flat.

 

The group had the advantage of probably the best possible team working on this across geographies. To be honest nothing else mattered at that point of time, though I distinctly remember voicing my concern, when Medianet was being discussed by the people who mattered.

 

Private Treaties was a master stroke that paved the way for a financial coup of sorts legitimising the group’s entry into hundreds of companies in the country. I am given to understand that this non-cash synergy created has benefited many companies. I sincerely hope this is true.

 

Medianet is a different story all together as this heralded the end of the sanctum sanctorum of the paper . Its content was on sale.

 

I must confess that this is undoubtedly a brilliant marketing idea that catapulted revenue. Advertising occupied about 50-60% of the city-centric newspapers’ inventory and suddenly thanks to Medianet, it shot up to 100% !

 

Emotion, Tradition, Editors, Journalists, all stupas that meant nothing in this scenario considering that circulation and readership only grew and so did revenues. The rest is history, sweet, bitter… whatever !

 

If it’s marketing, its the TOI group. No argument on this.

 

It is Gandhi Jayanti on Friday. And while Bapu was a lawyer and later an activist and a freedom fighter, he was also a journalist and Editor-Publisher of Indian Opinion. If the Mahatma were to be alive today, what would be his Opinion on the Media? Sorry, this is not an advisory question, but I wanted to have your perspectives on the issue for my own clarity…

Interesting question, my friend!

 

My understanding of Mahatma Gandhi is limited really, to what was written about him and may be a few pieces he wrote.

 

However, given his strong views on a variety of subjects, I would imagine that he would have been fairly disturbed on the conscious dumbing down of content quality.

 

The obvious focus on Infotainment as opposed to news may have been quite an unpleasant surprise for him. I think it’s essentially his propensity to create opinion leaders that would have taken a beating . No opinions, no leaders !

 

On a lighter note, I suspect he would have been exceedingly amused with the news channel and their never ending debates. The Solar System wants to know……!

 

And there never will be another Mahatma Gandhi!

 

Sir, I lived in New Delhi and have now moved to a Tier-2 or Tier-3 capital city. I find that the newspaper which my family and Igrew up on has a truncated edition from the city. While I understand that this happens because of low revenues in smaller centres, from the newspaper’s point of view, doesn’t a half-baked edition mean a loss in brand value?

No, it doesn’t if the brand is already an established name. Newspaper readership is significantly loyalty-driven. It’s almost akin to your toothpaste; colours change, paste becomes gel, tubes get smaller and yet we can’t do without it!

 

The publishing industry is a business like any other and this is something that must be understood. Costs are phenomenal what with raw material (read newsprint) accounting for a bulk of the DVC( Direct Variable Cost).

 

To add to this is the large wage bill that is incurred month after month.

 

As you rightly said, low revenues are a challenge for the publisher and there are only a few options to overcome this blow to the profitability. Either you bolster revenues  (which may not be possible in small markets!). Or you cut costs.

 

Less pages = Less Cost = Brand Remains Profitable.

 

End Of Story.

 

We do hope you enjoyed reading this edition of Dear MxM.

Heady Questions, Straight Answers.
Have a splendid, fun-filled weekend & do take good care of yourselves !
See you next Thursday, same space, more Questions and even more Answers.
Dear MxM… Because We Care.

 

Inbox your questions to editor@mxmindia.com with Dear MxM in the subject line

 

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