The Times of India may have made many sterling contributions to Indian journalism in the first 150 years of its existence, but its chief claim to fame in the last 21 years has been to blur the distinction between editorial and advertisement to the extent of rendering the former irrelevant to journalism.
The Times is, of course, free to do what it pleases. But when the market leader with a stranglehold on circulation and advertising revenue sets such a low editorial benchmark, it leaves little room for “serious” players invested in journalism when confronted by advertisers accustomed to the red-carpet treatment.
Either they have to swallow their pride and follow the leader hoping no one will notice—or risk losing the advertising and falling by the wayside.
A good example is yesterday’s Deccan Herald, the Bangalore based single-City newspaper that was trounced by ToI in its lair over a decade ago and is now facing fresh competition for the No.2 slot from new entrants like DNA and Deccan Chronicle .
DH carries a half-page advertisement for “affordable premium homes” launched by the listed company Puravankara on page 1, and follows up with a news story on the “good response” to the advertiser’s project on page 4 with prose straight from the advertiser’s brochure.
Only the naive would contend that this is the first time an advertiser has taken an expensive ad on the promise of positive coverage in the news columns, but….
Images: courtesy Deccan Herald
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