“Treat your reader as you would your CEO,” says Ravi Dhariwal, CEO publishing for Bennett, Coleman & Co. (Times Group), India, admitting to his obsession with readers. Without patronising them, newspapers should treat their readers with the same care as they would children, he adds.
“Our inclination is always to side with the reader rather than with the nation. We are optimistic and hopeful and you will see this reflected in the paper. We believe in and celebrate diversity,” Dhariwal tells delegates at the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference.
Dhariwal has good reason to be optimistic – his paper has the world’s largest circulation. But this massive audience carries great responsibility, suggests Dhariwal.
While the paper has its own views on stories and events, to treat the reader with respect it will frequently print counter arguments to its own editorials.
Keeping it brief will also help satisfy the reader, says Dhariwal. The Times rarely exceeds 40 pages in length and its stories aren’t very long.
A recent drop in price to 5c saw circulation explode, he says, and four million copies of the paper are delivered to homes each day in more than 2,000 towns and 20,000 vendors.
More convenience for the reader: 95 per cent of the Times’ copies are home delivered.
India has not yet reached a stage of multiple news websites and large online audiences for its newspapers – print is a far bigger medium here.
“The future of print in India is bright. In the next 10 years I really don’t see any other medium coming close,” says Dhariwal.
With 23 editions and an additional weekly magazine for high-end readers, Dhariwal stresses the importance of relevance to print’s future. The paper’s ethos and content must be relevant to its readers, he says.
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