A popular afternoon Indian daily - MiD Day - has suddenly called off the production of two editions from prominent Indian cities, at very short notice.
This bizarre incident could well be one of the few instances, if not the first, in the history of the Indian media industry that a national daily has shut operations overnight, effectively announcing its closure with just a few hours notice. Unfortunately, rumors suggest that several other print media organizations could share similar fates.
The newspaper informed staff at offices in the Indian cities of New Delhi and Bangalore (opened in 2007 and 2006, respectively), on the evening of Dec. 5 that their last editions would be published on Dec. 6 and both offices would be closed thereafter, meaning that all staff would have to find new positions with virtually little or no prior time to begin searching. However, the paper will maintain a bureau and sales offices in these cities.
Manajit Ghoshal, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mid-Day Infomedia Ltd., made the communication via an internal e-mail, at 5.13 p.m. IST, citing prolonged losses as the reason for the closures. He went on to explain that the group planned to concentrate and expand its Mumbai edition, adding that the organization expects its employees to come out of this with flying colors.
The announcement was as big a shock to the industry as a whole, as it must have been for the company's employees, who were completely unaware of the possibility of one of the country's leading newspaper taking so abrupt a decision.
However, despite the seemingly arbitrary nature of the paper's actions, if certain industry analysts are to be believed, the print media in the country could be dying a slow death.
According to a Mindshare India survey, published in Campaign India, January 2011, the digital media has seen a growth of 35 percent from 2010 to date, while the print media has seen a mere 9 percent increase over the same period.
The situation becomes a little confusing, though, if a report from the World Association of Newspapers is to be believed. The report suggests there is certainly no sign of a news crisis in India, which is now the world's fastest-growing newspaper market. The report went on to say that between 2005 and 2009 the number of paid-for daily newspapers in the country increased by 44 percent to 2,700 and the total number of newspapers rose by 23 percent to more than 74,000.
However, one needs to think beyond the data and consider factors leading to such situations.
The media industry is witnessing a rather drastic shift that has also re-aligned career paths in journalism. In addition, ad revenues from print media sources are dropping, even if different sources have different estimates for the same, and major media organizations are shifting to new business models to generate their revenues.
Full Transcript of E-Mail Sent to Mid-Day Staff
It's with a heavy heart that I have to announce the closure of Mid-Day Delhi and Mid-Day Bangalore editions. Tomorrow's issue will be the last issue for both the editions. This has been necessitated by the prolonged losses we had to incur on these editions.
The idea behind starting these editions was to establish these brands in these cities and make a difference in the lives of the citizens there. We had begun well and were appreciated for the quality of product we put out. However, in a corporate scenario the books need to be balanced.
Due to the ever increasing competition in the print media space, the funds required for breakeven in these cities kept escalating. Finally, we had to take this call. We will however, continue to maintain a news bureau in Delhi and our sales offices in Bangalore and Delhi.
But, every dark cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining in this is that Mumbai Mid-Day now will have the strength to soar to greater heights. By cutting our losses in Delhi and Bangalore editions, we will be able to bolster our circulation in Mumbai.
Apart from the plan to channel these investments,Jagran group (our parent company) will invest a large sum in boosting Mid-Day's circulation in Mumbai. This will give our sales guys across the country to pitch Mumbai Mid-Day to clients and agencies in a new light.
We need to now concentrate on building brand Mid-Day in Mumbai and monetizing Mumbai Mid-Day's large increase in circulation and in this our sales colleagues in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune will have to play a significant part.
Gujrati Mid-Day and Inquilab continue to go from strength to strength. We are increasing the circulation of GMD at a brisk pace and will continue to do so. Inquilab has flourished in the north and we now have 14 editions in all and are far ahead of any competition in the Urdu space.
Mid-Day Pune is an extension of Mid-Day Mumbai just as the Pune city is an extension of Mumbai. Mid-DayPune will continue to run at an ever increasing pace and we will be monitoring the Pune media market keenly to spot opportunities to improve the circulation of Midday Pune.
We will continue to invest aggressively in our digital properties as we believe that this is a medium whose time has come.
5th December, 2011 is an important day in the history of Mid-Day. Today, we will have to halt and think. Think about many of our colleagues who will have to move on.
It's a testing time for them as it is for us. Right now it might look dark but I am sure both of us will come out of this with flying colours. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors. We also need to think about the added responsibilities for all of us who remain in this great organization and who have to carry its legacy forward. Let's begin this phase of our journey with renewed vigour and conviction.
In conclusion, I can only say that all dreams may not fructify but that will only encourage us to try harder and bring us closer, marching forward with a vision which only we can realise. We strive for continuity and absolutes but are reminded time and again that change is the only constant.
In this time of great pain and heavy responsibility, I am sure God will give us the tenacity to walk on-and then to break into a run-and once again soar to live our destiny.