The pertinent topic of ‘Do readers know what they want?’ came up for discussion in an interesting session at the Indian Magazine Congress 2008, being held in Mumbai on September 22-23. The two-day Indian Magazine Congress is being organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) in association with WWM, Worldwide Media. exchange4media Group (exchange4media.com, Pitch and impact) and Business Standard are the media partners.
Eminent speakers like India Today Group’s Aroon Purie and Outlook Group’s Vinod Mehta deliberated on who decided what was good content for readers – editors, marketers or advertisers. The session was moderated by Hindustan Times’ Vir Sanghvi.
While the discussion was ended with a consensus that ‘content is king in publishing business’ and publisher and advertiser have to work together to enhance the credibility of the publication.
Mehta felt that media journalism was being often confused with entertainment. He also pointed out that brand managers were incapable of understanding the content, which was more important than anything else. New journalism was entirely about gauging the reader’s interest and work accordingly, he noted.
While discussing what was good content for readers, Mehta said, “A good editor must decide on what readers want and should know what readers expect. The editor is the only one who can distinguish what is good content.”
Purie added, “A journalist, be it in print or television, has a social responsibility. You need to listen to your readers and gauge their interests through research.” He further said that the basic principal was “good content sells” and the rest of the equation would balance out. “If the magazine is a news magazine, then hot news definitely sells,” he said.
Tongue-in-cheek, Mehta said, “Editors and politicians can never be friends, because an editor is in the business of truth and facts. Editors can access a politician but cannot be a friend of a politician.”
The issue of talent crunch in the niche magazine space cropped, where it was stated that good people were moving out from magazines to join newspapers or the television industry. Disagreeing on this point, Sanghvi said, “I don’t think people are moving only from magazines to newspapers or the television industry, but movement is happening both ways.”
Mehta observed, “There is a talent movement happening because some people feel there are not enough opportunities in a particular industry or organisation. To avoid this, an organisation has to create an environment where its budding talent can thrive and there won’t be any lack of opportunities.”
Replying to a question on why some magazines remained ‘masala magazines’, Purie said, “Every magazine follows a certain format, if they don’t do it right, the market won’t buy it and demand for their product would be lost.”