Often most eager to tap the local market, tabloids explore news that is closest home and reflect the concerns of the neighbourhood. With globalisation and Indians moving abroad, websites of local papers create bridges for non-residential citizens to catch up with news back home. “Our audience is that of a diaspora, and since we are local content providers, it is the audience here as well as in other places that we must cater to,” said Abhijit Pradhan, Director, Sales and Marketing, Mid Day, Mumbai’s local tabloid. As the demand for connecting to this NRI reader is increasing, tabloids are also realising the need to penetrate through cyber space.
Mid Day’s website grew to the current www.mid-day.com from the original chalomumbai.com. It has seen some changes in recent times too, which include the new e-paper system. “Our site is very relevant to the audience, and we are not treating it as an add-on, but integrated with the editorial,” Pradhan said.
“At the time when the Internet boom happened, our inspiration was to build a Mumbai community on the web. Somewhere along the line, the mobile boom overtook and today, we are at the crossroads of mobile and Internet. People are consuming in a multi-dimensional manner,” he said, adding that Mid Day still faces the challenge of going completely digital with SMS alerts and web mailers.
Like most others, Mid Day also has its entire revenue coming in only from advertisements. “Although subscriptions might work, people may not want to pay for online material,” Pradhan expressed.
Hindustan Times’ business paper Mint (www.livemint.com) was launched in February this year. Rashmi Chugh, Head-Internet, said that the website and paper were conceptualised simultaneously. “The idea was that it should not just be a newspaper. We have elaborate content management systems. Currently, it is like a translation of the paper onto the web, but soon in the coming months, it will be very different,” she said.
Mint currently functions through a small team and has several teams off-location too. “There is a development team in Chennai, a design team in Italy, and the entire infrastructure is housed in Atlanta, where the servers are.”
A linkage with flagship brand HT and being part of the HT media group is an advantage, feels Chugh, as the quantity of content is never a problem. She feels that the print medium doesn’t suffer, but that the web is only a further extension. “Twenty-five per cent of the content on the website is from the paper, whereas the rest is exclusive to the web. Print is a personal habit. The feeling of holding a newspaper in your hand still remains. I think there is a parallel boom in both print and web. It is about how you engage the person, but the medium keeps changing.”
While they feel that subscription can be possible, if made to work, Chugh said that they have no plans to start any right now.
Mumbai Mirror (www.mumbaimirror.com), the compact daily published by the Times Group, has also revamped its website recently. While initially it only had print articles online, the team is now creating content that is exclusive for the site. They have an e-paper, a replica of the morning and afternoon editions.
It has introduced sections that cover Mumbai’s history, Mumbai’s map and civic initiatives. “We are taking in a lot of youth writing. The team is full of young people. Even if they are not the greatest writers, they have fresh ideas,” said someone from the web team who did not wish to be named.
Mirror does not have breaking news on the mobile. The revenue is again largely through advertisements and the opportunities that they are exploring for generating ads is currently through a free classified section, and cursors that point to consumer locations on the local Mumbai map.
Recently, the monthly youth tabloid JAM also launched a new portal www.jobokplease.com for students and freshers. “For a small publication without a dedicated classified department, an Internet job site with a payment gateway is the most economical method of attracting employment advertising,” said Rashmi Bansal, Youth Trends Consultant and Editor, JAM Magazine.
“This is a tried and tested business model. We are only creating a new vertical within it which is in sync with the audience that we have been catering to through JAM and jammag.com — the youth aged 16-24,” Yatin Bansal, CEO, JAM Magazine, said.
This transition phase towards new media has seemed to almost run parallel to the growth and popularity of tabloids and the compact format in the market.