In the days before the model code of conduct comes into the picture and various ministries will be barred from putting up pictures of Sonia, Rahul and MMS in their adverts, the ads are roaring in. Today in a 32-page edition of the Times of India, Delhi there were 32x8 columns (the count being done as eight columns across the page). Now that works out to 256 columns of total space in the paper.
But today's ToI only had 84 columns of editorial material by my reckoning (yes, I counted). Even the Op-Ed page was sacrificed to the Power Ministry. That is an Ad-Edit ratio of 67-33 and almost totally government ads and even if you include the ads for 'Massage Services' in the classifieds, which are a regular feature, this is insane!
Here is the funny thing, newspapers are obliged to carry DAVP adverts and the UPA's gift to the newspaper propritors with a 15 per cent hike in DAVP rates means that on average DAVP ads are not going at 60-70 per cent discounts to rack rates but only around 40 per cent, similar discounts to what an Airtel or Nokia would get.
The Government then, or rather its publicity hungry ministers are keeping the flames alight at the newspapers and also the chartered airline business. But these guys are having a direct impact on the dissemination of news. Yesterday was particularly bad, after Slumdog and these ads just about ten per cent of the paper survived to become regular news.
But that said, I have to compliment ToI for highlighting the Aravali issue (nice story today), and I'm surprised that other media houses haven't picked it up. The rampant destruction of the Aravali's will lead to massive water depletion in Delhi and Gurgaon. I can understand that some papers don't have reporters intelligent enough to cover the issue but it is a story that is right ion front of you.
The rush for 'Exclusives' or 'Specials' to narrate the ills of Narendra Modi (and the BJP in general, and I must admit with characters like Muthalik around they do become easy prey) does not mean that papers should roll over and play dead when it comes to news in their backyard. News, that unlike Narendra Modi's actions almost a decade ago can actually impact their readers lives. But some people get gongs and RS seats, so well, who cares about a couple of hills being blasted away.