Old wine in very old bottle is still old wine

26 September 2009

toi

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: The Times of India has unveiled its ‘Crest Edition‘ in Bombay and Delhi with a 40-page offering at an “introductory price” of Rs 6 per copy. (The ‘Crest Edition‘ branding is embedded below the masthead in italics.)

“Why another newspaper or magazine, you may well ask. Don’t we already have enough? To begin with, Crest isn’t really a new paper or magazine. It is The Times of India unbound, with narrative pieces that sparkle with rich reporting, great perspective and Aha! moments. We will leverage TOI’s unequalled network of correspondents, analysts, writers and editors to anticipate the changes bubbling below the surface of society as well as enhance our understanding of the world around us. Crest is for the curious mind; it hopes to be every intelligent reader’s guide to politics and policy, art and culture, environment and education, and more,” writes The Times of India‘s editorial director Jaideep Bose in an introductory edit.

The new paper’s menu, self-explanatory, is as under:

menu

The colour theme is: aquamarine with promise of ‘seas unsailed and shores unhailed’.

“Aquamarine is the colour of adventure, surprise and delight. It stimulates, it excites, and it’s cool. It invokes sky, ocean and earth.”

***

All things considered, Crest, coming from the house of the world’s largest English newspaper, breaks no fresh ground and is in fact reminiscent of the Sunday edition of The Indian Express in its design and stories.

Nothing about the new paper—the price (double the regular Times‘ Saturday cover price of Rs 3), the quality of the newsprint (standard), the choice or display of stories—suggests “premium”, “lofty” or “high road”, terms used by Times in promoting its newest baby.

In fact, the tiny masthead of the new Crest edition suggests that Times, which burnt its hands with its earlier premium offerings in Bombay—The Independent and The Metropolis in Bombay—is playing it extra-safe in an uncertain advertising scenario and in markets where the perception is growing that ToI is feeling the heat from a variety of sources, including the competition, for keeping reader interest subservient to the advertiser’s.

The registration number and issue date of the Crest edition is that of the regular paper and the editors are the same as that of the regular Saturday paper (Derrick B D’Sa in Bombay market and Vikas Singh in Delhi market), suggesting that Crest far from being a new paper is just a new, souped-up edition of the old one, issued in the hope that the daily reader will graduate to the new edition over the weekend and help The Times bottomline floundering in the face of the paper’s private treaties and other misadventures.

In earlier days, newspapers had the dak (postal) edition, which was printed earlier than the City edition and mailed to faraway centres or transported over long distances by road and rail.

The Crest edition is a similar venture but legal experts in the print industry might like to look at a juicy question:

Can a newspaper with the same title, same registration number, same volume number, same issue number, and same editor be sold at different cover prices in the same City on the same day?

The RNI number for the main edition of The Times of India in Bombay on Saturday is 1547/57.

The RNI number for the Crest edition launched on Saturday is 1547/57. The volume number (CLXXII) is the same for the main edition and the Crest edition, and the issue number (227) is the same too.

So, has the Times taken a legally questionable step in publishing and selling a different edition of the paper at a different cover price?

Also read: A lofty title takes the high road at premium price

Readers take rest. Premium readers take Crest

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6 Responses to “Old wine in very old bottle is still old wine”

  1. Rakesh Says:

    Maugham once wrote: “If given a chance, there are people out there who will take anybody down if he is trying to get away with anything.”

    Ah! Jealously. Remember, your neighbours may have a rupee more than you and you don’t have to protest. So is true of newspapers.

  2. Mysore Peshva Says:

    beautiful review, sharanya. it seems the times is trying to pull a fast one on its readers (nothing new in that).

  3. Kassapa Says:

    I loved ‘crest’ edition. Infect my wife who generally prefers to get all her news from social networking site rather than newspapers could not leave it for more than an hour. I think it is a bold experience of having a separate weekly product which is very featurish in nature.

    Only thing they could have done it to make more pleasurable to read is to reduce size to compact.

    Layout, page definitions, concept of ‘menu’ is good.

  4. K Mahesh Says:

    So what exactly is new in Crest?

    I read this on another site and it echoes what i think about this new paper

    “The same familiar names. The same familiar sections “Techtonic” and others. And there is that inevitable thingie on spirituality and relationships. A mish-mash of all that was available in the paper in scattered formats. Where is the cutting edge in the content? This will make it easier for Dilip Padgaonkars and Chetan Bhagats to totally take over the Edit page of the main paper. They have turned the OpEd page of the main paper into a joke. You need to put up with fluffy stuff from Jug Suraiya and Bachi most of the time instead of solid opinion and analysis. The remaining days its Congress’ Singhvi and some novelist named Himani Dalmia. If they cannot manage one OpEd page properly, why should we even expect them to do any better with another paper, ostensibly a knee-jerk reaction to the increased readibility of rival papers?”


  5. A gret traditional highway of journalism built by THE TIMES OF INDIA since a long time.Now it has become a path of life for the people of India.The new crest edition is the Crown of the readers in which we can findout the columns of art culture,politics,literature,environment etc. Its a way of perfection in life.Its an expression of a tradition with the stories of twenty first century.


  6. The Times of India with its slogan LET THE TRUTH PREVAIL since 1938 is living with our generations has a long long way to go.every incident of any new publication of this newspaper makes a great event in the world of journalism,the new crest edition has a great incident of making a news magazine.Really it is a Crown of the readers.Vikram Purohit Jodhpur.


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