Monthly Archives: August 2009

Newspaper websites get less than 1% page views

Traditional media—newspapers, TV stations, magazines—live under the assumption that the current drift away from them towards new media is something that will get corrected as the consumer begins pining for “credibility”—stuff they can trust!—and once he does so, they can start charging for content which will bring their businesses back on track.

India is still some distance away from this reality, of course, but how realistic are these assumptions even for a country like the United States?

The Nieman Lab has released numbers that in the words of one Indian new media player are “fairly startling figures”.

# The total “Active Digital Media Universe” (Neilsen’s term for total US unique visitors online during the month, both at home and at work): 195,974,309.

# Of these, 70,340,277 or 35.89 per cent visited a newspaper web site. (On the other hand, 64 per crent got their news elsewhere.)

# The average member of the Active Digital Media Universe visited 2,569 web pages per month. That adds up to 503,457,999,821 page views.

# Of those 503 billion page views, 3,468,549,698 (3.5 billion) went to newspaper web sites. That’s less than 1 per cent of all page views or 0.69 per cent to be exact.

# Neilsen says the average page view (in that univere of 503 billion) lasted 57 seconds. That translates into 7,971,418,330 hours spent online or 40 hours, 40 miutes and 33 seconds per person.

# Of those 7.9 billion hours spent online, time spent at newspaper web sites was 45,022,485 hours. That’s less than 1 per cent of all time spent online, or 0.56 per cent.


It’s all official about the return of Sanjaya Baru

For days and weeks, New Delhi was abuzz with rumours of the return of Sanjaya Baru (in picture). Would he go back to the Prime Minister’s Office, where he had served as media advisor? Would he be sent to the Planning Commission? Would he be in charge of programme implementation?

Well, it turns out he will be the new editor of the business daily Business Standard from January 2010 in place of T.N. Ninan, who is a minority share-holder in the paper along with his wife, the media critic Sevanti Ninan.

Baru will report to Ninan as editor of the paper and then as editorial director of the company.

Also read: Sauce for a paper ain’t sauce for a TV station?

Conflict of interest and interest in conflicts

External link: Sanjaya Baru on H.Y. Sharada Prasad

Sure, but would he like to receive them today?


Watching TV used to be simple in the age of terrestrial broadcasting. The advent of satellite, cable and dish have made viewing a more pleasurable experience, of course, but there are also some unintended consequences.

This afternoon, after news emerged that India’s principal opposition party, the BJP, had sacked its leading light Jaswant Singh against the backdrop of his controversial book on Mohammed Ali Jinnah, direct-to-home Tata Sky viewers watching his exceedingly gracious press conference had a red button with an option to “Send Flowers” popping up on their screens.

Also read: BJP defeat is a defeat of BJP brand of journalism

CHURUMURI POLL: Is the BJP in total disarray?

God’s Own Party kinda re-enters the 20th century

Did media overreact to SRK? Press QOTD ‘Y’

“Film maker, TV producer, businesswoman, writer, blogger, teacher and the main slave to an imperious hound”, Harini Calamur on the Indian media’s reaction to the detention of movie star Shah Rukh Khan by officials at Newark airport:

“At first, when my nani called me up to tell me that SRK was arrested in the USA, I thought that they had sent him to Gitmo! Then I realised it was a 2-hour stop at the airport. I wonder how much airtime was spent on this—and to the exclusion of what?—and how much money did the “news” channels make….

“On the day SRK got detained for two hours, 21 farmers committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh because they can’t pay off their debt. But, farmers committing suicide cannot be sponsored, it does not drive up TRP’s and it definitely is not conducive for off the cuff ranting by our esteemed ‘journalists’.

With the kind of issues occupying television airtime, Calamur goes on to suggest that it is probably time to rename 24-hour news channels.

“24 hour blogs—one can say—but that too,would be unkind. There a whole bunch of bloggers whom I follow and whose integrity and intent I respect—even if I differ with them on their views. There isn’t a single TV journalist I can put in the same category.”

By the way, CNN-IBN has a half-hour show tonight, hosted by Sagarika Ghose.

The question of the day: “Are we over-reacting to SRK’s detention?”

Read the full article: 24-hour infomercials

Also read: ‘Where was the media’s outrage when Narendra Modi was denied a visa?’

Good heavens, yet another Mario Garcia redesign


In a nation of a billion (plus a few hundred million) people, in the outsourcing capital of the world, Indian publishers continue to face enormous trouble in finding a designer with a pulse on local tastes to redesign their products.

And the only name on the speeddial of otherwise extremely stingy proprietors—be it in the north or south of India, be it in English or the languages, be it newspapers or magazines—is Mario Garcia.

After having redesigned every print publication in The Hindu group over the last few years (The Hindu, Business Line, Sportstar, Frontline); after having redesigned Hindustan Times; after having redesigned Sakaal Times; after having redesigned The Week; after having designed Sakshi—and heaven knows what else in this wide and wonderful country—Mario Garcia Jr has redesigned the website of The Hindu.

Above is the beta version of the new page, below is the old version.

Future contestants of Mastermind might like to consider “Indian Newspaper Design” for their specialist round. The answer for all 10 questions is Mario Garcia.


Also read: Yet another paper redesigned by Mario Garcia

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia

Move over Irving Wallace. Wallace Souza is here.

In Irving Wallace‘s 1982 thriller The Almighty, the protagonist Edward Armstead inherits from his father a newspaper called the New York Record (and his mistress). But the former comes with a rider: the Record will become his if and only if he can overtake the circulation of the New York Times in a certain timeframe.

To achieve that objective, Armstead sets about manufacturing news and events over which he has proprietory control. He hires a gang to kick off unlikely accidents and assassinations to cover which he has presciently despatched two reporters well in advance.

But even before their stories can reach New York, the paper would have already carried stories under the fictitious byline “Mark Bradshaw“. Thus, The Inheritor overtakes NYT and secures his inheritance. But the scam is uncovered when he seeks to bump off the Pope.

Move over, Irving Wallace.

Wallace Souza is here.

The Brazilian crime show host has been accused of a series of at least five murders to boost the popularity of his show Canal Livre. Police say the orders to execute came directly from Souza and his son Rafael, and that TV crews from the show, now off the air, were alerted so they could get to the scene first.

Wallace Souza says he is the target of his rivals’ smears. He remains free because of immunity he enjoys as a legislator but surely life imitates art?


Irving Wallace’s story was successfully adapted into a Malayalam film starring Mammootty called New Delhi, which was later remade in  several Indian languages (starring Jeetendra in Hindi, Ambarish in Kannada, and so on).

Also read: ‘The media shapes, sexes up, manipulates, distorts’