Indian publications are full of facts; the fiction is in their circulation figures.
Cooked up with great expertise, garnished liberally with an extra zero, certified by audit agencies which will consume any shit, and then lovingly dished out to agencies and advertisers, the number of actual copies sold is a joke.
Especially with complimentary copies, subsidised subscription copies, school editions, etc, all adding to a smorgasbord already laden by price-cutting, dumping and other predatory tactics.
Mail Today, the daily tabloid newspaper from the India Today group, is trying a new trick to show that it is doing well against the market leaders in Delhi. On page one each day, below the masthead, the paper prints “today’s circulation”.
These are the numbers from the first week of July2 2010, showing a marginal dip on Sunday:
7 July: 155,575 copies
6 July: 152,876 copies
5 July: 152,905 copies
4 July: 149,925 copies
3 July: 152,970 copies
2 July: 152,845 copies
1 July: 153,555 copies
Who this is intended at and how it will help, knows God, but in an industry that revels in opacity, Mail Today‘s stab at transparency is a welcome one, if only….
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M.J. Akbar in Deccan Herald:
“News is the subtlest form of advertising. Perhaps we should be generous to journalism and qualify that: news can become the most subtle form of advertising, particularly when it comes dressed in quotation marks….
“We customers of democracy buy words without enquiry about their value. This encourages those in power to embroider words with whatever we will be fooled by: sometimes pepper to enhance the taste, sometimes frippery to brighten the look, sometimes nothing more substantial than packaging.
“When you reach home, tear up the glittering paper, and open the box you find lots of straw under which is hidden a shrivelled raw mango instead of the array of Alfonsos you were promised in the marketplace of politics. Since there is no one else to blame for the transaction, you make pickle out of that mango and console yourself with the illusion that it is sustenance.”
Read the full column: Wagon of words
Also read: Will M.J. Akbar recreate The Telegraph magic?
‘In fractured media, the word is the common fact’
M.J. Akbar charges Manmohan Singh of sabotage
‘Never let your head stoop as a journalist’