Day two of the Indian Magazine Congress saw five magazine stalwarts – Ashish Bagga, CEO, Living Media; Paresh Nath, Editor, Delhi Press; Prakash Iyer, Managing Director, Infomedia India; Tarun Rai, CEO, WMM; and Dr Torsten-Joern klein, Member of executive board, President-International Magazine Division mull over issues like independent journalism, 360-degree media publication perspective, quality education, a right mix of youth and experience and wish lists. Donald Kummerfeld, President, FIPP (International Federation of Periodical Press), was the moderator.
The Indian Magazine Congress was held in Mumbai on September 22-23 and was organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) in association with Worldwide Media (WWM). exchange4media Group (exchange4media.com, Pitch and impact) and Business Standard were the media partners.
Kummerfeld started off by saying that there was not one big wave, but a couple of waves that would drive the magazine industry in India.
Ashish Bagga called for a change in the present module for both journalists and ad sales people in the Indian magazine fraternity as he anticipated a multimedia style of content and marketing to be the cornerstones for the survival of the magazine as a medium.
Bagga said, “It’s a fact, our journalists have a conventional approach, they follow the old classical way of working, as a result they cannot look at an idea and float it into multimedia style content. This has to change, and for that publishing houses need to nurture and train the present youth, who are both passionate and open-minded, to work along side the experience hands. Only then one can cater to the ever changing needs of the magazine, which is becoming a multi-media platform.”
“Ad sales people, too, need to come out of the present day module and look out for other means of revenues as dependence only on the ads would neither give the medium the impetus not the market share, which is why it is high time that we implant the seeds of the 360 multimedia platform in both journalists and ad sales people, because the fruits of this exercise can be fetched only after five to seven years from now,” Bagga added.
As to his wish list, Bagga said, “I would like to leverage the technology as and when I need it, for the content that I need to read, rather then be controlled by it.”
Dr Torsten-Joern klein brought in the perspective of ‘independent journalism’. He said that magazine journalists in India should not be bothered by external factors that could stop them from doing the kind of work that felt was right. According to him, independent journalism was way magazine owners could create a brand out of their products.
Tarun Rai observed, “Magazines today are becoming a competition to brands like Pepsi and Nokia for being the youth icon of the year, but the catch is for the publisher to come up with the right content that blends with the relevant pictures. Pictures give an edge to both the story and retention time of the consumer, which is going down on a year on year basis.”
Paresh Nath condemned the education system both for the poor reading habits and the content in present day magazines. He said, “During the 40s and the 60s, people used to speak in their mother tongue for the first 13 years or so, and then used to learn the English language, as a result they had a command over the language, which was reflected in the form of content that was written in those days. Today, despite the number of English medium schools, the youth is not well versed in the languages, as a result content is losing its sheen.”
“As a result, today magazines have become like water bottles and sales figures are on top of the publishers’ mind,” Nath lamented. He, however, was optimistic about the print medium, saying, “Print as a medium has survived for the last 500 years, and will continue to do so. And if supportive mediums asked for the content, then we as publishers should loan or syndicate our content to anyone who wishes to promote the same.”
Prakash Iyer was of the view that if the story had to be told in a few words then “we should not overwrite the stuff as it will lose out its sheen and the interest of the TG”. He said, “Skirts are getting shorter, but that does not mean that the habit of wearing clothes is declining. Today, the percentage of both literacy rate and the working class is going up, and as a result people who could not afford to buy magazines are buying them, which is why readership in the country is on an upswing. And if the story has to be told in a few words then we need to find the right medium.”
Iyer further said, “It is very tempting to look at the technological advancements and be threatened by the same. We need to take care of the present, and the future will take care of itself.”
Kummerfeld summed up the discussion by describing magazines as the most flexible and creative medium. He also said that the medium in general had been able to attract many entrepreneurs who were very passionate about their magazines. “New Media is a new trend, but that doesn’t mean magazine won’t grow. Magazines will always have a space in media and they will continue to grow,” he affirmed.