Just how clueless is IT? Last week, India Today subjected us to yet another 'Womens Issue' which said just about nothing. And Sallu's fun time in jail - which ToI, EchTee and DNA had decided should occupy 500,000 column centimeters every day for five days (OK, so I'm exaggerating, sue me!) was according just a narrow single column. Then there was that Jessica Lall thing, again, even in Bombay, the papers were going nuts, NDTV seemed to have become a single-issue channel and helped Airtel and Hutch make a lot of money, but IT? Nope, the papers would have dealt with it, so, lets just bury our heads in the sand and pretend nothing happened at Qutub Collanade.
But the current cover story takes the cake. First off, careful readers will observe a startling similarity in the cover shoot to a Man's World issue back in July 2005. But, even better the gadgets and 'Hot and Cool' products they advise you to buy seem to be lifted from a variety of magazines - from three-six months earlier. But, seriously tell me - the PSP as a "movie watching device", whiskey tango foxtrot foxtrot foxtrot! Now if you really wanted to give a guide to buyers - don't make yourselves look like a brochure for Jumbo Electronics. Plus, the iPod, the Moto RAZR V3i, the N91/92 - whats new about these gadgets - most of them have been on the market for upwards of six months. Do the Moto PEBL, do some of new products or upcoming products - and try them out.
Sigh! The sad part is as Rashmi pointed out in a comment to the previous post - ITG has the most screwed-up online strategy which is no strategy at all - which kinda makes anything they write about 'hot' and 'cool' stuff look silly. But then again, to be fair, they did leap out of the blocks early on with The Newspaper Today. But even then, nobody would pay for content.
This is sad, because very occasionally there are a couple of decent stories in IT, none of them by S Prassarajan however, if anybody on the face of the planet can understand what the hell is going on with what he saying. Aren't we all taught to go easy on the language for our readers - in an age where SMS-ese is taking this man makes people endure things like this ...
"...Whose sin was the nation paying for that day in Ayodhya? Was the eruptions of raw emitions that swept away the barricades of reason? Was it an unholy alliance between the profanity of faith and the pathology of politics? Was it anyway a justification for the civilisational hurt of the political Hindu? The vandal and the victim have dominated the moral conscience of the nation for so long and Ayodhya still hasn't declared its redunancy as a slogan that mobilises as well as divides..."What is even sadder is that IT can be so much better - look at the competition. Outlook which despite claiming that their offices are at Safdarjung Enclave should admit that they're based out of 10 Janpath. Then there is Tehelka - which many would consider no competition at all given that they are activist left and after the NDA lost power they have nothing to be activist about. And then there are the two southern publications - Frontline, the latest issue of which I read and had palpitations afterwards - this is seriously loony left-wing stuff. It is as if Sunita Narain and Prakash Karat had a love child. Brrrr.... And then there is The Week, which is living two years behind the rest of India. So India could really do with a nice middle of the road magazine - add a few good technology people (there are none in the market however), add some better lifestyle bits and better movie and music reviews - IT already has a nice Books section - and the magazine could be much better. Like of of the other publications under its banner - some of which are very good and very well packaged. Unfortunately, its been quite a while since Times shut the Illustrated Weekly of India and the ABP Group shut Sunday, both of which were very solid products - but that was all pre-liberalisation (well, not Sunday, but that was a one-man show) so it would be unfair to comment on how well or not well such products would do today. One reason IT manages to do well is because the competition is so sucky. I don't think I thank god enough for the internet.
If I wrote like that, I bloody well pray that I was a very senior editor, otherwise I would lose my job - no not quite, I assume my Executive Editor would have me impaled for writing this. It was painful typing that because the article can't be accessed by me online. Maybe thats a good thing, really!
However, IT's topline grew at a Times-esque 20 percent last year (even though a few years ago its economic prospects weren't so good) and this has led their marketing team to believe that they can shove anything down the throats of their readers. And sadly, much like how editorial teams at the Times were subjugated to the over-riding interests of marketing a few years ago, IT is getting bamboozled by their marketing folks right now. And while the money is good, the product is getting hammered. Eventually, that will show in declining readership and subscriber numbers - in fact it already is. That said, the IRS has lost it - DNA has a readership of 400,000 in Bombay - of course if they plaster the town with advertising there will be recall and if the IRS conducts their surveys in such haphazard manners no wonder you get such weird numbers - if these numbers are true DNA has a larger multiplier than most magazines (a multiplier is the number of people who read each copy of your magazine calculated by dividing readership by circulation and as I said here, Net Paid numbers for DNA are still quite below their expectations). So no-one in the magazine will have a clue when the bomb hits them, because advertisiers are on the ball and they'll be the first to jump ship.
Seriously, if you guys thought the Times was bad, waste 20 bucks and see IT. At least if you spend 20 bucks on the Times (five weekdays in Bombay) you get a few kilos of raddi. With IT you get jackshit. Seriously, if you're a guy and you want to read a general interest magazine, plonk down 60 bucks for a copy of Man's World. And no, I don't work there.