Mumbai print scene has been witnessing an interesting trend. The key thought of Daily News & Analysis (DNA) communication was the paper that you helped create. On a later stage when Mumbai Mirror launched the communication, it was ‘The paper you created is ready’. Mumbai Mirror went to town about its ‘compact’ format and Mid-Day carried an ad yesterday, claiming to be the No.1 Compact. What is even more interesting is that none are wrong in their claims, at least not technically.
However, the fight between Mid-Day and Mumbai Mirror is evident from the word go. Apart from the same lead story, both ‘compacts’ had various other similar stories yesterday. Most of the present Mumbai Mirror team, including editor Meenal Baghel and other like Hussain Zaidi and Mayank Shekhar are old Mid-Day hands. This makes the game between the two, a little more interesting.
But the most noteworthy aspect of it all is the back page ad that Mid Day carried, which began with “This is the great new newspaper idea according to the Times… We had it 25 years ago… Mid Day, Mumbai’s No. 1 Compact.”
The Times group has spent substantial editorial space in the last few days to explain the Mumbai readers, the virtues of going ‘compact,’ clearly establishing that a ‘compact’ is not a tabloid like international player ‘The Sun’ or Mumbai’s own, Mid-Day. Instead when a ‘serious’ newspaper cuts on size, it called itself a ‘compact’ to indicate that the size is small but the style is the same as broadsheet.
On this explanation, Mid-Day can be accused of making a false claim but not on a technical ground. The claim then stands justified, given that even as Times officials informed that Mumbai Mirror’s circulation is two lakhs, the figure cannot be yet substantiated.
Industry experts said that technically, anything smaller than a broadsheet is a ‘compact,’ ranging from Berliner, tabloid or A 4. The content quality classifies the compact in any one of these groups. Hence, technically Mid-Day is a compact, which is in the tabloid category and hence, it can call itself Mumbai’s No. 1 Compact.
For media planners and buyers, it is a party time. For the readers, whether it is the paper they created or whether it is a compact, the readership will be based on what they feel like reading or what they are habituated to read. But the battle in the fourth estate is speedily moving towards the international scene where the ‘populists’ fight ‘quality’ and the two co-exist.