Dear MxM by Jaisurya Das: Is it wise for newspapers to cut their cover price to attract readers?

17 Dec,2015

By Jaisurya Das


It’s that time of the year when you go ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and get set to welcome the season of good cheer, great wine, greater food and yes, dear ol’ Santa!

Yes, Ladies and Gentleman, it’s the Season of Christmas!!  Enjoy it to the hilt with your family, friends and countrymen…

After all, the world today believes that ‘community building’ is the answer

Earlier today, I decided to go through my entire friend list on social media only to realise that I hadn’t connected with almost one-third of this list. And all this while I believed that I was good at keeping in touch.  So much for that…!

A very dear friend (from the media) landed in hospital earlier this week, following a scooter ride that went wrong. I was so appalled when I heard that barring a few old cronies like us, no one enquired or visited him.

He has several hundred friends on social media. I guess they ‘liked‘ this or wished him a speedy recovery. How does it matter how he really is? Nursing a broken shoulder among other things he wondered why social media is considered so personal and yet in reality, a stranger that we haven’t befriended till date.

I seriously wonder if this is community building.  If it is, I would much rather be in solitary confinement! Amen.

And the fact of the matter is, that it’s time to get to our Q&As for the week.

So, sit back and read on. For all you know, you may just find the answers you have been looking for…


My son wants to get into an undergraduate programme in mass communication. My husband suggests that rather than mass communication, he should do economics or any pure humanities course. He says mass communication can be done as PG. What is your view?

Honestly, if your son is genuinely keen on mass communication, then the best option would be to go for a professional degree rather than doing three years of humanities.


Today, excellent graduate programmes are offered by leading management and communication colleges across India. I have personally seen the curriculum at some of the best colleges, and they are extremely comprehensive and can compare well with even a PG programme.


Additionally, placement opportunities also exist and hence students can take up jobs, be self-sufficient and then opt to study further down the line. This then gives them a complete view of the industry both from a theoretical and a practical perspective.


I must add that my own daughter is finishing her graduation in media studies (majoring in advertising) and I have seen what the three years have done to her perspective and approach to a variety of subjects. So, while some may say call it a bias , I believe my views are more empirical, rather than impulsive.


However, If still in doubt, then it certainly makes sense to wait and go through a normal degree programme and then decide ahead.


All good wishes to your son for a great career in Mass Communication.


Sir, I read your answer to the ink of newspapers being toxic. So if newspaper ink is hazardous, TV screens emit radiation and spoil your eyesight, ditto with computer screens… so what do we do?

Thanks for writing in with yet another pertinent question!


Let me at first clarify that LCD and LED screen DO NOT emit any radiation, harmful or otherwise. They are perfectly safe for viewing and there is no cause for concern whatsoever.


The comparison between newspaper’s being used for edible substances and TV and Computer screens hence may not be appropriate. None of these screens ruin your eyesight.


Eye strain and symptoms like dry eye and floaters etc are caused primarily by the duration of time one stares at a screen or an object.


It is important to look away from the monitor or screen from time to time coupled with looking at distant objects, every few minutes. This ensures your eye muscles are not strained and will help keeping your eye moist and comfortable. I am sure your ophthalmologist will concur with me on this advice.


Additionally a lubricant for the eye can be used couple of times a day in case you already suffer from a dry eye syndrome.


So go ahead and read your paper (don’t eat in it!) watch that TV show and have a lovely time..


Contrary to what people may think, a roving eye is actually a smart eye!


Is it a wise thing for a newspaper to cut its cover price to attract more readers?

Why not? Finally a newspaper is a business as far as the owner is concerned and as long as you can make it viable, it’s a win-win situation.


The reader gets the copy cheap and the paper is still profitable thanks to its advertising. Simple model. No rocket science really.


The trouble starts when the advertising revenues plummet for reasons of market slow down or lack of strong sales teams etc. Or more recently, the proliferation of options in online, allowing advertisers to flirt with a new medium at low cost.


For the record, cutting cover price was an initiative taken first by a leading Indian business daily where readers were invited to try the paper on its best day, at half the price. The response was phenomenal and many subscribed for just that one day. Soon the price drop was extended to all days of the week save the weekend. And soon enough this brand became the clear leader in the segment and paved the way for media wars using price as a weapon.


The rest is history.


Personally, I see cover prices going upward soon, since most papers have seen a drop in advertising volumes affecting their profitability.


Hence, at the risk of losing a few copies (only helps cost control!), cover prices will get revised upwards to bring it to a sensible price point.


Either way, it’s important to keep reading that newspaper. Amen.


The other day I heard that most Agony Aunt questions are faked. Are Dear MxM questions for real? If you answer this, I will believe that yours aren’t! Hehe.

Well, well ! Now, our very existence is being questioned. Hmmm.


I must confess that this is partly true, however essentially in columns that focus on biological needs (uff!!) desired and otherwise. In these columns one tends to find a question or two that are planted for reading pleasure!


I must confess, this has been done at Dear MxM too, but only the first column every season since the inbox stays empty till we actually publish one or two issues. Post that, we have been fortunate to have a steady flow of questions and mails coming in week after week.


This inflow amply covers our requirement, and in fact, we are unable to carry the entire lot in a given week.


Having said this, I must add that we most often, have to rewrite a few of them, but purely for reasons of grammar. Additionally, we ensure that no question is truncated to protect its essence, no matter how incisive it may be.


I do hope I have clarified your doubt. If you’re not convinced then so be it.


Simply because, we are like this only 🙂


Thanks friends for being with us, week after week ! Means a lot.

Go soak the raisins in the rum and bring on the cheer for before you realise it, Christmas will be here!

Have a fun weekend and take good care of yourself. See you next week, same place, same day with new questions and ekdum fresh answers !


And yes, keep writing in at with Dear MxM in the subject line.


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