"What needs to be questioned is the duplication of delivery of the same type of content?" asked a media analyst. With news channels building on various analytical news programmes, is news analysis as a category slipping out of the pages of weekly news magazines? The question is important in the light of the stagnation in the reach of the magazines. As per NRS, the overall reach of the magazines declined from 93.8 million in 1999 to 86.2 million in 2002.
News Magazines are not showing signs of worry yet, though it seems the efforts are on. 'The Week' is focusing on its subscription scheme 'King of Offers,' to attract more readers. It is also promoting its various supplements in the dailies, to push the retail pick up of the magazine. India Today has initiated a several promotions and events, including the latest 'Making Sense of India Today' contest.
Alongside, News magazines are focusing on differentiating content from news channels by going 'deeper' into the issues.
Sanjay Malik, Asociate Publisher, India Today commenting on the Making Sense of India Today Contest says "India Today is a mass brand and interacts with a cross-section of profiles
and demographic groups. The positioning of the brand is clearly defined as 'Making Sense of India' and the editorial and marketing task is to deliver this promise consistently to growing and relevant target groups. India Today is a part of the lives of over 13.4 million readers and our efforts are continually focussed on enriching this relationship. Continuing evolution and renewal is a sine-qua-non for successful media
properties. This evolution will continue in content & packaging, in the manner it is made available & accessible, in the manner in which the brandinteracts with the readers at various levels. India Today has always kept pace and going forward, our endeavor is to be in sync with the rapidly changing beliefs, expectations and aspirations of consumers in the country. We would also be exploring possibilities of leveraging the equity of India Today by way of brand extensions, ancillary programmes etc."
Says Swapan Dasgupta, Managing Editor, India Today, "The most important question news magazines address is that they ask, 'How.' How did an incident happen? For example in case of story on Gujarat Elections, by the time we come out the results will be about 5-6 days old, but in our stories we would tell the reader, how Gujarat elections were won by whoever won it, and how Gujarat elections was lost by whoever lost it," explains.
India Today's opinion contest "Making Sense of India Challenge" was created to involve readers by empowering them. The contest consisted of eight questions, with options, started in September 2002 issues of India Today. Each week 'India Today' raised a question which summarizing an issue, and a set of options to choose which readers believed were in the best interest of the country. Officials state that the response has been 'fantastic.'
On the issue of response to the contest ,a happy Sanjay Malik futrther shares, "We received over 10,00,000 responses. That is 15.7% response level. When marketers launch a direct marketing campaign they usually gasp at 2% response rates."
Earlier India Today had successfully created 'India Today Conclave', a platform to raise and debate issues and set the agenda. Its Swar Utsav, a three day music festival in Delhi, was also considered to be a successful 'goodwill exercise.'
With many more news channels to hit airwaves soon, it seems such promotions and events by News Magazines will become the order and like many innovative initiatives that India Today has done in the past, there might be more in store for readers.