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48 India Post

www.indiapost.com

April 25, 2014

PREETI VERMA LAL

W

henever a book jacket is sepia tinged, you immediately know what lies inside. It is either nostalgia, history of a bygone era, of a dear departed or an unknown story from the past. Sangita P. Menon Malhan's The TOI Story: How a Newspaper Changed the Rules of the Game, puts all of this in a 243-page book that took 12 years to write. In journalism jargon (I use this because Malhan is an ex-TOI journalist), the newspaper story hinges on the five Ws and one H of Times of India - from its birth on November 3, 1838, as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce to its growth as the world's largest selling English newspaper. In between then and now there lie a million stories of enterprise, innovation, controversies, marketing leaps, circulation strategies, price wars, audacious moves. And in the centre of it a reclusive man who 'changed the rules of the game'. The man: Samir Jain. The designation: Vice chairman. His USP: charisma of turning a large, conservative, disparate group into a lean, profitable behemoth. In 2000, Malhan was - as she says - 'gripped' with idea of chronicling the history of Indian media and its boom. She knew that the task would be tedious. Information won't be forthcoming. And culling facts from gossip and anecdotes would be back-breaking. But she held on that audacious nerve of an intrepid journalist. In two spells, she interviewed journalists, editors, marketing and advertising managers, media analysts and planners, critics and even some members of the extended Jain family. What perhaps started as a 'chronicling' whim concluded as an incisive story of the Indian newspaper industry (specially early 1980s and 90s, the era that rewrote the Indian media landscape. The TOI Story begins with Hickey's Bengal Gazette, the first English newspaper to be printed and published in India. It was in 1780 that this two-sheet weekly newspaper made its maiden appearance. Others followed. But it was Times of India,

the Old Lady of Bori Bunder that would prove to be the most innovative and tenacious. However, for decades, Indian newspapers saw themselves as 'watchdogs of democracy'. Bennett & Coleman (BCCL) dared to hoist another definition: the media was also a business. It was this mantra that prompted the way media houses functioned and churned revenues. Rivals TOI and Hindustan Times locked horns to capture more readership turf. Magazines metamorphosed from drab black/white to vibrant all-color. Verbosity made way for sketches and graphics. And as the India economy embraced liberalization, the chasm between news and advertising was spanned. Malhan digs deep into facts, traverses the media landscape and the minds of the people who changed the rules. She captures intrigues and gets insiders as narrators. Within the pages of paperback lie the story of The Times of India, the newspaper that is a morning companion for millions. Pick the book. It will change the way you look at a newspaper.

Sangita P. Menon Malhan

India-Post_04-25-2014  

Voice of Indians Worldwide

India-Post_04-25-2014  

Voice of Indians Worldwide

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