The Times of India group has reportedly decided to pull the shutters down on its tabloid offering Mumbai Mirror as COVID continues to take its toll on Indian media.
A Times Group statement doing the rounds says Mumbai Mirror will be turned into a weekly, a standard operating procedure used by Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) while shutting down publications.
Pune Mirror will be shut instantly.
There is no official word on Bangalore Mirror and Ahmedabad Mirror.
Or the future of the TV channel that bears its name, Mirror Now.
Following is the full text of the statement first reported by the media website MXM.
“Fifteen years ago, the ‘city that never sleeps’ had a new and good reason for staying awake – and for waking up, when it did manage to get some sleep: Mumbai Mirror.
“Feisty and fearless, energetic and enthusiastic, playful yet punchy, it lived up to its name from the day it was born, mirroring Mumbai in all its myriad moods.
“It was as local as Mumbai’s locals – the lifeblood that keeps the city on track and moving. The paper became such an integral part of the reader’s life, driving the narrative of the city, that it was decided to extend the experience to Bengaluru, Pune and Ahmedabad.
“Sadly, just as the pandemic, lockdown and unprecedented economic crisis have laid low many great ideas and initiatives before they could fully take root, they came as a body blow for the still-young brand.
“Not only has the newspaper industry been among the hardest-hit in terms of revenues, it has been weighed down by an import duty that has added to newsprint costs.
“With the long-held hope of a stimulus not materializing and the Indian economy now officially in recession, it is with a heavy heart that the group has decided to cease publication of Mirror in Pune and relaunch Mumbai Mirror as a weekly. They will, however, continue to have a strong digital presence.
“Following months of discussions and deliberations, we have made this extremely difficult and painful decision to recalibrate our portfolio of publications. We truly value the contribution of our journalists and other staff towards building such a strong brand in a relatively short time, and thank them for their hard work and great effort.”
Here’s how media folk mourned the news of the sudden death of Mumbai Mirror—and doffed their hats to its well-regarded founding Editor, Meenal Baghel.
Meenal Baghel tweeted:
Mumbai Mirror had been launched in 2005 to protect the flagship from DNA and Hindustan Times which launched editions in TOI’s main profit-centre Bombay. DNA is now shut. Mirror was later extended to Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune.
The Times group lost Rs 120 crore in just the first year of publication of Mumbai Mirror in Bombay as the paper was served free with TOI. Post COVID, subscription revenue further reduced, with ads covering barely a tenth of the cost.
While Mumbai Mirror more than made up for the losses through its journalism, its other editions barely survived.
Bangalore Mirror, which was launched to protect TOI from Deccan Chronicle and DNA, was turned into a broadsheet briefly but reverted to its tabloid avatar. Both DC and DNA are now history.
In August, Ahmedabad Mirror was in the middle of a blazing row after its Editor tweeted that home minister Amit Shah‘s wife had communicated to Narendra Modi that his workload be reduced.
The Independent launched by the Times group in the late 1980s to counter The Indian Post was turned into a weekly Metropolis on Saturday before the plug was pulled. Ditto the tabloid Metro Today launched by TOI in Delhi in collaboration with Hindustan Times to counter Mail Today from the India Today group.
Mail Today too shut in the middle of the pandemic.
As the sad news broke, this was one of the tweets from the official Mumbai Mirror handle.