The sixth Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) began in Mumbai on September 6, 2010. Organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), the Congress hoisted intriguing discussions on various issues concerning the magazine industry. The first panel discussion deliberated on the topic ‘Editorial Challenges in a World of Convergence’. The session was moderated by Prasanto Kumar Roy, President and Editor-in-Chief, Cyber Media. The panel members included eminent editors of the magazine industry such as Indrajit Gupta, Editor, Forbes India; Mohan Sivanand, Editor-in-Chief, Reader’s Digest India; Saira Menezes, Editor, People; and Jitesh Pillai, Editor, Filmfare.
Convergence in the world of media is an interesting and important development. However, publishers around the board are still cautious about it and haven’t been able to leverage their brands in all the mediums as much as they would have wanted to. Session moderator Prasanto Kumar Roy started off by pointing out instances of convergence and its implications on brands. Print, web, mobile, events and social media are some of the mediums through which media is converging. He pointed out how they were all part of the same domain.
“It is essential to bring all of them together. The question, however, is how to leverage the association around it,” he added. For example, in mobile, India is 350 million strong, but very little has been done with this mobile base yet. He stressed that it was important for the editors to understand ‘what brings revenue’. He cited the example of BBC, which had homogenised its content across various mediums of convergence. He also pointed out the example of Huffington, calling it the ‘bible of those who are trying to experiment with social media’.
Indrajit Gupta spoke about Forbes India and said how the brand was leveraged in different mediums right from the beginning. Unlike several other brands, Forbes India (under Network18) didn’t have a legacy behind it, hence it could afford to look to do things differently. “We had realised that if we remain rooted to print, we will not be relevant, as the consumers today are engaged on various other platforms. Hence, we leveraged the brand in other mediums, too,” Gupta said, adding, “We were clear about the kind of journalism we wanted to create. At the initial point, we obviously focussed much more on print, as it was our identity driver.”
Filmfare’s Jitesh Pillai explained how through these various mediums the magazine brand had enjoyed a greater consumer reaction and relationship. “Through social sites, we have been able to generate audience responses. The idea of creating such social networks is to bring the consumer back to the brand, he said and also pointed out how the digital and mobile association with the consumers was leveraged in all ways possible throughout the year.
Mohan Sivanand spoke extensively about his brand, Reader’s Digest India, and focused on its 50 years of successful existence to drive home his point that convergence of various media forms was actually making life a lot harder. Reader’s Digest tries to leverage its print content through its association with consumers on the digital space. “We aim to have enough digital content to lure readers towards the actual content – the print. It also helps us in garnering more subscription. We don’t have all our content on the digital space. Putting a premium on content is important,” he added.
Saira Menezes of People pointed out, “There is another ‘W’ in the business of storytelling today, which stands for – ‘Which Platform’. Today, we are all consumed in the hiring and recruiting process. We look for people with different media background today as it is better for our editorial prospects.”
Blogging, podcasting, events and so on, are all newer forms of media that are converging all the time. The essence for editors across the board is to be able to leverage the content properly to generate new sources of revenue. The quintessential need of the day for publishers and media owners is to be able to experiment with these converging media to find the right balance.