Patrika is a very progressive newspaper group: Siddharth Kothari, AMD, Patrika Group

exchange4media spoke with Siddharth Kothar, AMD, Patrika Group; Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor and Saurabh Bhandari, National Head Marketing to understand .

e4m by Nishant Saxena
Updated: May 9, 2018 8:58 AM  | 9 min read

Exchange4media spoke with Siddharth Kothar, AMD, Patrika Group; Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor and Saurabh Bhandari, National Head Marketing.

Here are some excerpts from the interaction:

Would you like to share the vision and thought behind Patrika?

Siddharth Kothari, AMD, Patrika Group: Rajasthan Patrika was started by my grandfather, Karpur Chandra ji Kulish whose vision was to create an organization which will pursue journalism with a passion and be driven by the purpose. We have been committed to the value system laid out by him and all wings of Patrika be it Print, TV or Digital work in the same culture. Patrika always puts the reader first and foremost.

Despite its long history, Patrika is a very progressive newspaper group, it has always been amongst the firsts to embrace technology and innovation. We are amongst the first media houses in India to adopt 360 degree integrated newsrooms, our recently launched satellite TV channel truly leverages MOJO.

Do you think a newspaper group can really make a difference or impact in a really meaningful way?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: We have had overwhelming response in just two weeks in terms of nominations both as change-makers and volunteers, which is a clear indication that we have touched the right chord. People have been waiting for this opportunity to make a difference or to speak the truth about local area development promises. We have given them all a stage to express and act. We have seen how people look up to independent media to take up the right step when it is required, mostly with people’s agenda in mind. Community awakening has been the hallmark of our drives and this one also builds hope for long term impact in creating mind set, inspiring people to act as change-makers and impact deeply, long awaited political reforms by acting right when one must.

What do you think about the current state of journalism in India and where does Rajasthan Patrika fit in?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: I am pained to say it is not very encouraging, only a few are still following journalism in its true spirit. Business interests, when it comes in the way of fearless reporting, the reporting suffers unfortunately. The Governments are also increasingly getting intolerant of criticism and are often found resorting to pressures. Patrika is a media house that stands erect in favour of democracy and interests of public at large.

Last year in November, Rajasthan Patrika decided not to write about government. What are the consequences when such steps are taken by a publication?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: When the government of Rajasthan had proposed the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017 which sought to prevent the press from freely investigating misdemeanors of public servants without prior government approval. Mr. Gulab Kothari, Chief Editor Rajasthan Patrika declared boldly through a front page editorial that Patrika shall not publish news of the state government which are of the nature of publicity in Patrika until the bill is not withdrawn. which was re-enforced each day by a declaration of the same in newspaper "Jab Tak Kala, Tab Tak Tala". Of course Rajasthan Patrika continued to publish government notices, news and important information to make sure that the reader is not debarred from benefit and true information. Finally of course it was the victory of democracy as the state government took back the initiative proposed.

I would like to state here that, Patrika is neither having good nor is it having bad relations with any of the governments. It is just doing its duty as a pillar of the fourth estate and pursuing journalistic principals. Patrika’s reporting has always been like a mirror.

Patrika bears such consequences very often. In CG our journalists were debarred from covering the state assembly. Patrika offices have been attacked and papers burnt, but that is not as important, as serving the cause.

Saurabh Bhandari, National Head Marketing: Many times Patrika has faced almost an embargo in terms of government advertising, but this has no impact on our editorial ethos. Recently only after court intervention we started getting government ads again. Never the less, we have expanded and enhanced our assets and markets throughout it all. Such is our advertisers' conviction with Patrika.

Patrika is known for its firebrand journalism, would you like to share any of your recent stories and campaigns?

Saurabh Bhandari, National Head Marketing: Yes, Patrika has believed in fair and fearless journalism in all these 62 years of its journey. We have always taken a lead in educating people to perform their duties in the best way, while pressing for their rights also. Recently (on 4th April, 2018) we launched a mega drive called “Changemakers” to connect people with politics in the best of their capacities and interest, setting an agenda for ‘CLEAN POLITICS’. Touching the chord of unrest among citizens about the state of affairs and calibre of people who are political leaders, the campaign focused in three states (Rajasthan, MP and CG) for apparent reasons of impending elections, it drew instant attention and response. The campaign allows people to lead change, present themselves as potential leaders in their respective political constituencies, while also giving a chance to those who wish to volunteer and be part of political activities by playing the role of active citizens.

How successful was such another editorial campaign last time?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: Those who know our background know well how strongly we have flagged the issues of accountability of political systems by creating an environment of robust public monitoring. This campaign can be seen as a continuum of past all structured editorial initiatives under the umbrella of ‘Jaago Janmat’ encompassing all aspects of political processes including public manifesto, awareness about voting beyond caste, rejecting criminals and non performers, constituency development expenditures, performance in assembly and their report card among others. We earned the most coveted ‘National Media Award’ last elections for this campaign by Election Commission of India conferred by President of India after the 2013 elections.

Covering a whole range, this year, we started a digitally focused drive keeping assembly elections in three states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh) as our larger target to influence public opinion in favour of elections with the best people joining the fray. The larger target through all these campaigns, including this one has been to strengthen democratic processes through informed public participation, visionary leaders and public monitoring on performance of representatives.

What do you plan to achieve by this editorial campaign- Changemaker?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: Clearly, we want people to wake up, realize their own potential to influence and activate their respective constituencies by playing proactive roles in identifying issues, building public discourse and projecting themselves as social-political leaders. We also wish to create a team of dedicated citizens who are able to map issues of their area realistically, monitor every social – development activity, seek transparency in every public task and build public pressure to demand change by making political representatives accountable right at the stage of filing nominations. We also wish people to make way for well-meaning and capable people without greed for money or vested interests to be drawn to politics by creating support system for them and help create an ecosystem where they are prepared to play a bigger role for better change.

What exactly are the activities you are considering? What are the various elements of the drive?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: The campaign is digitally driven, to connect with it anybody can just log on or or the patrika app. campaign is layered as per total 520 assembly constituencies in three states (Raj, MP, CG) with an appeal to all that if they believe that politics needs clean and capable people, and if they think they are among them, they should nominate themselves as Changemakers to represent their constituency.

Those who think they want to be a part, not as potential candidate themselves but as volunteers or mentors, we created categories with defined task for all to engage. Once the nomination is done, we have built a process of cross verification of claims and rate quality of constituency priorities as expressed by each. Each constituency has a jury, consisting of distinguished members of different sections of society, to verify forms. Its an all inclusive and open platform with equal opportunity for all to be a part of it.

Since unit is constituency, this force of Changemakers and Volunteers is processed at constituency levels only, helping in restructuring our editions’ operation also with hyper local reach. This whole micro level network of responsible citizens built this way will operate for political awakening and create an environment for every segment of voters to play their role as per their respective strengths. Because of the digital platform, we are able to quantify people’s engagement, touch and track them with as many variables as age, district, constituency, education, social activities, and priorities of issues and finally connect with tasks as we define or as it emerge in the process.

Is it going to be a multimedia editorial drive?

Bhuwnesh Jain, Deputy Editor: Surely, it is. We are making the best use of convergence. We are using the newspaper platform to inform through news, creative mastheads, info graphics, creative messaging and FAQs, endorsements; engaging people digitally to for nominations and constituency wise nominations as change-makers and as volunteers; covering physical meetings taking place on ground for TV coverage; inspiring people through radio quickies and social media platforms and mobile technology innovating every step linking local festivals to have change-makers’ perspective. For example we inspired people to link Akshay Tritiya (local festival when most auspicious work is undertaken by communities) to Clean Politics by taking three pledges, more than 38 thousand people participated to vouch for the cause in a single day. Hence, we are making all possible usage of every media platform that we operate with. So far, we have more than 16 thousand Change-makers and Volunteers registered and the number is increasing each passing day.

What are your future plans for Rajasthan Patrika?

Saurabh Bhandari, National Head Marketing: Patrika’s print assets are well recognized and always acknowledged by the industry, but Patrika’s multi-media growth has been exponential. In radio we have expanded from 4 radio stations to 18 from Jammu and Kashmir to Bihar. Our digital footprint is pan-India and enjoys more than 25 million unique viewers as per Comscore on-line, having 2,78,12,297 unique visitors & 286 million video views as per Crowdtangle. Patrika TV uses state-of-the-art technology and leverages MOJO like no one else. With diversification and sharp strategic moves, we have registered promising growth both horizontally and vertically.

Disclamer: This version of the article should be treated as the final, the former article has been revised on request from Rajasthan Patrika.

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