Trust and credibility, the foundational principles of good journalism, were long destroyed in India by privately vegetarian but publicly carnivorous media barons who destroyed the distinction between real and fake, between news and advertising.
This front-page anchor in The Times of India in #Coronavirus season today provides visual proof.
As editions get slimmer (today’s TOI is 12 pages in Bombay, including 2 pages of Bombay Times); as hawkers and readers hesitate to pick up copies due to fear of contamination; as governments and unions toy with the supply chain, the paper produces a trump card.
Research by a little-known firm that readers are spending more time reading newspapers. The fundamentals of reporting a survey are conspicuously absent. The sample size is not revealed. The dates on which the survey was done. The location or locations are not known. Online or offline. Age group.
Error of margin. Margin of error.
(Some of the blanks in the TOI “story” are thankfully filled by The Economic Times: it was a telephonic survey from April 13-16 in four states—Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh—where TOI‘s dominant readership does not lie.)
For a newspaper that is in the advertising business, as Vineet Jain famously said, the advertising squeeze wrought by #Coronavirus is all too real. And it is important to convey to advertisers that readers have not deserted the mothership. But are advertisers and agencies so foolish to not see the evidence all around them?
“We have all learnt in such a short span of time, the ability to do more for less and this is the new normal,” wrote S.Sivakumar, the new head honcho of The Times, as he announced salary cuts.
Maybe in TOI‘s reckoning, even readers have learnt the ability to do more with their newspaper for less?