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India Today, the magazine is dying January 24, 2010

Posted by simarprit in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,

Everytime I hold a copy of India Today, I am reminded of an institution which played a massive role in my thought building process between the years 1977 – 2000. I am reminded of how I would ensure that I read the copy the same day it is out and how we would always get two copies at our home as there was this mad rush to read it.

Somewhere between 2000 and 2005 the obsession transformed into a desire and post 2005 the desire came even a notch down and became connect. From a must read, first thing first, cover to cover in 10 years India Today has become for me “I also read India Today”

The reasons for this are not hard to find:

It has become flimsy, lacks depth and doesn’t offer anything new.
The Impact Feature is a big NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Multilayer covers confuse me and distract me.
Aroon Purie’s editorials now are hollow and hardly worth a read.
I dislike the “staged photo journalism” – can’t relate India Today to it even after 10 years of India Today getting into it.
The number of right hand side ads is always increasing and obstructs my reading flow.
Too many center spread ads make me wonder why do I pay for the magazine, it is India Today which should pay me.
Stapled in or gummed advertising inserts add to the insult.
Path-breaking stories just don’t happen.
One issue doesn’t even bring out one fact which was not in the air anyway.
Last page has become too predictable.

I can go on and on, in short from a complete exciting meal in the 70s, 80s and 90s – India Today has become a slice of white bread, I still eat it but no longer look forward to it.


1. Ricky - January 24, 2010

Interestingly, I think this shift happened after India Today started copying Time magazine in format by sacrificing content. I like Outlook magazine much more and the last time I was in India, I only grabbed those (although Outlook is biased towards the Congress party). I don’t think magazines today understand that in order to compete with Internet, they need to focus more on content and editorials than just repeating the news.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

India Today was always inspired by Time, I have no issues on that. My issue is that I don’t find any reason to read it now – it has stopped adding value and playing role in my ever evolving thought process.

2. travel junkie - January 24, 2010

write posts on travel


simarprit - January 24, 2010

I do, and I would write more as and when I have experiences to share. Thanks for your note, I value it

3. Sanjay Mehta - January 24, 2010

I agree with you totally. It has been a downward spiral movement for India Today. If tomorrow, they decided to stop publishing it, I will not even miss it, forget shedding a tear for it!!

And as a business, they have other problems. As I had ennumerated in a post sometime back: http://sanjaymehta.me/2009/06/05/india-today-a-lesson-in-how-not-to-do-customer-service/

simarprit - January 24, 2010

Yes Sanjay – I had read that post. I feel bad as I have grown with it and the magazine was growing and aiding my own growth. India Today to me meant a lot – I collected over 500 issues of it without missing a single copy – that was my library (You would recall it was a fortnightly in 70s, 80 and 90s). Illustrated Weekly of India, Readers Digest and India Today – One died, other went belly up but still running and the third dying 😦

4. iamsomeone - January 24, 2010

you do realize that print media survives on advertisements, right? paper prices have sky rocketed, printing costs have gone high… you see, it becomes difficult to bring out the ever increasing demand for a magazine such as india today. so, as someone from the print media, i’d say let’s not be too harsh at least on the advertisements bit 🙂 for the rest of the issues, yes, those can be major put offs to many.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

I understand fully but Editorial/ Content to Advertisement Ratio needs to be respected. Advertisements and Advertorials put together in India Today are over 60%

5. shantu - January 24, 2010

well..yes, i too remember myself waiting every week for the fresh issue. i had no passionate connection for india today and as the materials and news increasingly became sub-standard, i canceled my subscription. i have no issues with the advertisements which are vital for checking the price but poor and repetitive contents are a no-no.many issues are completely market-driven and they are published just for the sake of publishing.
thankfully, there are other magazines which can fill the void . india today will not be missed by young generation !

Aynur - February 9, 2012

ctmdenslaroan on January 21, 2008 I’m guessing she’s on her day off. She deserves a break from all that work. And so do the others.

6. Meher K - January 24, 2010

I agree with most of your comments about the quality of editorial content. I will reserve advertising comments because for a print medium to survive, something has got to give and at most times it’s editorial space (and I don’t mean quality, I mean quantity).

However, as a journalist, I have a few questions. Do understand that I am not being sarcastic. It’s just something I have battled with and would like an avid and informed reader to answer.

1. When you say editorial of a magazine is dying, what would you instead like to read in a newspaper / magazine (other than the news articles that are already being printed)?

2. When you say an article lacks depth and insight, what kind of insight would you want (examples are welcome)?

3. Don’t you think it is a little unfair to compare content from 80s and 90s when there was no 24 hour news channel to content in print media now? Every news medium has the same source of information and the challenge to give newer insight becomes difficult with every passing hour. A newspaper suffers and a magazine suffers further. Instead of stating problems, can we get some solutions too?

4. Lastly, when a news channel today gives everything from breaking news to in depth discussion, why and how do you think a newspaper / magazine can remain relevant. Or let us put it this way – what’s that “extra” thing you would want to see in a newspaper / magazine?

I’d appreciate your answers.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

Thanks Meher for asking me these questions, here we go:

o. 70s, 80s and 90s had advertising and one practically read all ads too. There were no confusing cover-pages and multi-folds to understand and battle with. Right side ads were there but they were few and far between and an ad in India Today meant the product had to be good and the business sincere about it.
1. & 2. Would love to read serious weekly round-ups which are not thrown at me at high decibel levels in a a sensational overtone. Merit based product reviews, book reviews by subject specialists. Essentially news with depth provided by the nations best and not one correspondent asking another “Aapko kaya lagta hai – ki Sonia Gandhi Amar Singh say milengee ya nahin”” …
3. No it is not unfair at all. Magazines have a shelf life which the TV channels don’t have. India Today of 70s, 80s and 90s ensured that one very valuable reader value-add even before that phrase was coined. I read The Economist and look forward to it, I enjoy my copy still and I still read the ads and so do I with Time. Reader profiling and value matrix redefining can help big time in addressing this problem. Who is the reader, where does he read, what does he read and who listens to him and why? I don;t think India Today addresses these questions internally at same level they did decades back.
4. I don’t want to repeat my self but that extra is thoughtful analysis and eye for detail. One natural photograph of Raghu Rai and the issue use to become a legend, hundreds of technically excellent but staged photographs by Bandeep can’t bring in that depth. Some of Pramod Pushkarna’s photographs were of extremely hig caliber photo-journalism merit. eye for drama over eye for detail and the story within its fold is what I miss. That place is for a magazine and a magazine alone, India Today vacated it and nobody has filled it.

7. Meher K - January 24, 2010

Thanks. I agree with some, disagree with others but that could take forever. On another note, have you tried reading Open? It’s a new features magazine. (And no I don’t work there. I genuinely like their content)

simarprit - January 24, 2010

No I have not read Open, would surely do.

8. THE LIP SHANDIL - January 24, 2010

That indeed is a well researched and thought provoking epitaph you’ve written and only someone who has devoted their time money and devotion would feel so sad about the route it has taken in recent times.Even though I have followed the growth prosperity and shocking chalta hai attitude that has lead to it’s present reputation I for one am not going to shed any tears should it wrap up tommorow (I’m sure it’s a brand they would keep milking even if it’s kept on a respirator).

If India Today does die sooner than we expect it to the major blame would lie at the door of the Marketing Honchos who seem to know more about journalism than even the editor- leave aside senior journalists who are elbowed into fancy offices and treated as white elephants.

Everyone who has a brief inkling about the growth of India Today shall vouch that it has fathered the cream of journalists but could not keep them in their fold for long.So whatever competition one sees in the media today is from their own sired talent.Why would this happen if proper growth and ample respect was extended but alas India Today was under the illusion that there could not be another and so Competition breeded right under it’s nose.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

Unfortunately Dalip we don’t have any substitute to India Today, the position it is vacating or falling from needs to be occupied and occupied quickly.

9. Nagesh Kamath - January 24, 2010

Simarprit – Liked the writeup and echo and agree on many a point u raised in the article and in ur resonses to comments, especially to @Meher’s. For me personally while not being attached to India Today as compared to say Readers’ Digest, India Today going downhill (and possibly even closing isnt far the way its headed) is the change/end of an era. A vital point u’ve pointed out is the migration of photographs from natural, high caliber photo-journalism to technically excellent but clearly ‘staged’. Apart from the change/lack in depth of the editorials and content this (photos) are possibly the largest impact items. After all as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and one that makes an impact is worth several more!

btw, I have read a few issues of Open and it looks promising. Will need to watch out and keep track I suppose to see how it goes.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

I agree Nagesh, even if India Today just improves the Photo Journalism part things would start moving up….

10. Vishnu - January 24, 2010

I have stopped reading India Today a few years back due to the lack of indepth articles and the bias towards the Sangh Parivar. I have no issues with the political slant of a magazine, but the management should know that readers also do know a bit of politics.

Outlook has criticised the Congress party many times, and it still publishes some well-researched articles. Frontline remains as a pro-CPM magazine with no real improvement over the years. I prefer Tehelka, not just for covering controversial topics, but the language used also. The Open magazine was good for the first few issues. Another new magazine, The Caravan, looks good. Let us see.

I also hate the magazine’s habit of publishing surveys that nobody wants.Magazines should stop these ridiculous waste of paper pulp.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

I understand Vishnu, India Today is still an institution, it has spawned thought process of millions of young Indians, none of the magazines come anywhere close to it. They are all yet another magazines with their existence hardly having impact on readers heartbeat.
Yes, survey’s forced is yet another BIG NO.

11. ps - January 24, 2010

Good point.
I would like to add one more thing here, may be you’ve grown up, in a sense that the India today things which would excite you before do not excite you anymore, tho it has remained same.
It’s like a 3 years old would pick piece of candy over money but as 30 year old nobody would do that.

simarprit - January 24, 2010

But my need and requirement hasn’t changed much between my age of 34 and 44. India Today has changed, there use to be one center-spread, one ad behind cover and no stapled and pasted inserts… and a lot on editorial.

12. Manish Shekhar Jha - January 24, 2010

Excellent blog Simar. India Today has been going downhill for a long time now and unfortunately so are most other news-down-your-throat across the world. I can understand people talking about need to have enough advertising space and why not – when your first day as a journalist/editor at a media company goes in understanding why “the product (here goes your much loved daily newspaper/magazine) has its basic responsibility towards the advertiser and not the reader”. Then you have these organizations fighting for space on the trading bourses, where only thing that counts is how big revenue you can show.

Fortunately for us and unfortunately for the traditional media companies, democratisation of information (including news/view/analysis) on the Internet has made most of what you get from them irrelevant. It’s good to romanticise the institution that India Today and likes of the world were. But I’ll celebrate what I have today – to read what I want to, filter and analyse it, engage with people who produce news as equals and if I don’t like it – create the news myself. Long live India Today – I’ll miss you (sometime).

simarprit - January 25, 2010

Very well said Mansih, somewhere I have a hope tha India Today would come back and start moving in the direction it knows and once again it would become a cherished PRODUCT (I have no issues as long as I love it, it was always a product). Yes, and your point about media might at bourses is also very critical factor

13. arvind - January 24, 2010

I totally agree…I was in india recently and noticed a drastic change in the INDIA TODAY magazine. As someone mentioned Outlook, it definitely takes points over INDIA TODAY. the quality & quantity of magazine has gone south…they need 2 improve the quality not only on photos but the read material.

simarprit - January 25, 2010

India Today is falling but comparing it with Outlook is a No No for me. Outlook is just another magazine which has never served any purpose other than out and out commercial for its owners. India Today has done the same for its owners, at the same time it has also opened at least two generations to world thought. I have problems with India Today, but Outlook is something which is faraway. A chalk is closer to cheese than outlook ever has been to India Today.

14. Vishnu - January 25, 2010

I disagree with your opinion on Outlook. Outlook still publishes well-researched articles, and whenever there is a conflict of interest, the editor has indicated it on its pages. I don’t think Outlook is as biased as India Today or Frontline.

When I read India Today, I feel a kind of ennui. There is no ‘new’ angle to the story, no depth, a casual attitude, may be prompted by corporate interests. The same goes with Frontline, which is just a rehash of events that happend 2-3 weeks back and is a repetition of stale leftist rhetoric. While events in Kerala (except when Congress rules) and West Bengal never makes a noise, Gujarat and MP makes Frontline see red.

The real problem is the lack of enthusiasm to go beyond the metros, and state capitals and dig for ‘issues’. Magazine journalism has become more celebrity-oriented or people-oriented. Most of the newspapers and mags do not care to focus on health, education, poverty, compared to the enthu shown for Bollywood and fashion. It’s high time that the print media set its priorities right.

simarprit - January 25, 2010

Thanks Vishnu, yes we need print media to have a balanced approach and cover a whole range of topics

15. Your favorite news media? - Page 9 - Snehasallapam - January 25, 2010

[…] An interesting read India Today, the magazine is dying s Weblog […]

16. beegee - January 25, 2010

Very true, just like the author here. My thought process was inspired by this magazine, however these days I really do not look forward for the next issue. hope they do well from here

simarprit - January 27, 2010

Thank you so much for reading and your approval of the thought ecpressed

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