Tag Archives: Sunday Standard

A new paper in India’s most crowded market

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With the South-based New Indian Express group of Manoj Kumar Sonthalia entering the Delhi market with the Sunday Standard, the North-based Indian Express group of Viveck Goenka has returned the favour by entering the Bangalore market with the National Standard.

The 20-page daily, priced at Rs 4, has been launched on Independence Day with a near identical pagination as the main paper in Delhi, but with a strong component of national news, a key blank in the existing newspapers in Bangalore.

Writes Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta in the launch issue of National Standard:

“We will work to translate the news—and noise—of New Delhi to help you understand how it affects life in the city…. As a newspaper, National Standard will strive to be as complete as Bangalore’s bisi bele baath, that delicious mix of rice, lentils and vegetables.”

After the split in the Indian Express group following Ramnath Goenka‘s demise in the mid-1990s, his adopted son Viveck Goenka got the Express editions in the North, West and East, and Financial Express, which had no geographical boundaries.

The southern editions went to Manoj Sonthalia, who relaunched the publications in the South and Orissa as The New Indian Express. (Manoj Sonthalia’s mother and Viveck Goenka’s mother are sisters.)

(Ramnath Goenka’s daughter-in-law Saroj Goenka (Goenka’s biological son B.D. Goenka had predeceased him), got the lion’s share of the group’s real estate, including the Express building on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and Express estate in Madras, on a portion of which she has built that city’s biggest mall, Express Avenue.)

The Manoj Sonthalia and Viveck Goenka groups had an agreement not to step on each other’s turfs, which was broken with the launch of Sunday Standard under Prabhu Chawla. The northern group took the matter to court but in vain.

For the record, The Times of India is the market leader in India’s most crowded English newspaper market, Bangalore, with a circulation said to be at least two times more than no.2 placed Deccan Herald .

The New Indian Express, The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, DNA, are all also-rans. The National Standard is printed at the DNA‘s press in Bangalore.

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Why Prabhu Chawla didn’t become media advisor

Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of The New Indian Express and Sunday Standard:

“Personally, I’m against the idea of journalists associating with the government in a formal advisory capacity without joining the ruling party. When former Prime Minister V.P. Singh offered me his media advisor’s job in 1990, I reluctantly declined. I suggested Singh not to hire any journalist, as he would only be adding to his already very long list of foes.

“At the age of 44, I couldn’t risk my journalistic career for a lackey’s loft, and make the prime minister the target of my own numerous enemies, also from within my profession.

“I hate to admit there isn’t much love lost between most senior journalists. Over the years, journalism has become divided along ideological lines. Like most humans, journalists also carry their predilections, preferences and biases around. In spite of our best efforts, we try to impose our choices on political leaders.(And imagine we succeed.)

“In the process, the leader ends up facing the ire of other journalists who end up targeting him, thanks to the one in his service. Many journalists have visible or invisible political ambitions. It is more honest to join a political party than masquerading as a self-proclaimed professional while accepting a job from the ruling party.”

Read the full article: A lose-lose situation

Also read: At 7, Race Course Road, this is Pankaj Pachauri

Why the PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

How well is the PM’s media advisor advising him?

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I

Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—II

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

Home truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla continues to enthrall with his answers on the website of The New Indian Express.

Volume I. No II.


Q: I haven’t got any news on the launch of Sunday Standard in Delhi. Have you shed your plans or postponed its launch? If so, when are you going to launch it?

A: We delayed the launch due to some technical problems and holi holidays. We would now be on news stands early next month.

Q: In what ways, are you going to launch Sunday Standard as something different from that of TOI Crest or Sunday Guardian?

A: We are not competing with anyone. There is no alternative to the Express DNA left behind by great Ram Nath Goenka.

Q: Why are there no Indian literary magazines, in English, of the stature of Granta or New Yorker? The New Indian Express group publishes a good one in Malayalam called ‘Malayalam Varika‘. Why not a good literary magazine in English?

A: Good idea. We will think about it.

Q: These days, when the highest selling newspapers peddle infotainment at the expense of serious journalism, is there any space left for newspapers to do any serious journalism, like in the late 70s and 80s?

A: Media must change with the times and also cater to the taste of new and young readers. But Indian Media, by and large, hasn’t given up serious reporting. Only a small percentage of its total space has been given to entertainment sector.

Q: When journos become power broker what would happen to free media?

A: We will lose freedom of expression. But Indian media is still the most fearless and independent. All the latest scams have been broken by the media only.

Q: I personally feel that the news content published on Sunday Express is less when compared to other papers published on Sundays. Would you take steps to increase the content?

A: Even if our quantity may be less, but quality of our news is much better. We will try to give more of more news.

Q: Why is TNIE not covering all the recent negative developments in Orissa?

A: What do you mean by negative developments? We cover news on merit and not because of it negative or positive nature. We don’t have any agenda other than reporting without fear or favour.

Q: Why are all the fearless columnists missing now in Editorial/OpEd pages? Almost all articles appearing in the paper now look like they’re being sponsored. Is this the end of TNIE?

A: Please let me know the names of so called fearless columnists you are missing.

Q: It looks like Aditya Sinha‘s departure and your entry have brought an end to the neutral stand taken by the TNIE? Do you have any plan to make the TNIE another pseudo-secular media?

A: Individuals like me come and go and they don’t matter. Institutions do and they survive individuals. TNIE group remains what it was when great Ram Nath Goenka started it- fearless.

Q: The New Indian Express is way behind its competitors in TN, AP and Karnataka. With the Deccan Chronicle and TOI eyeing the Kerala market, the NIE is bound to lose its strong base in Kerala too. Do you have any plans to end the marginalisation?

A: Please competition brings the best out of you. It is great news for us as all of us will be able to create new readership for English newspapers. Finally, readers will have many more options. They will choose the best. We are better than the best!

Q: The Hindu is serialising ‘WikiLeaks’ documents. It says that no money has been paid for the documents. The Hindu is known for its Marxist-Islamist agenda. They are certain to doctor the WikiLeaks documents in favour of CPM, China and Iran. Would you agree?

A: Sorry. I differ with you. The Hindu is doing a great professional job on Wikileaks.

Q: Why don’t you dispatch the New Indian Express (Chennai Edition) by air to Mumbai like ‘The Hindu‘ does?

A: We can do it only if a subscribe sends us a request because it involves extra cost. We are finding some solution.

Q: I believe your answer in this section as TNIE editor will always be a diplomatic one. Is there any other platform where we can get Mr. Prabhu’s personal opinion?

A: I am not a duplicitous personality.

Also read: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla has taken his interactive “Ask Prabhu” column to The New Indian Express, which he recently joined as editorial director, answering questions on this, that and the other with earthy candour.

Many of the media questions directed at Chawla and his responses are illuminating. Chawla confirms market rumours  that the New Indian Express is on the verge of reviving the Sunday Standard title owned by the group.

Here’s a sample.

Q: Why were you fired from an outstanding media like India Today? Did your poor knowledge in journalism particularly about current affairs and useless questions in Seedhi Baat make you go? Have courage to answer.

A: You have already answered your own question. Be happy with it.

Q: You had a great platform with the other media company? Why take a position with The New Indian Express, which caters mainly to the southern region?

A: I hugely enjoyed my previous job which gave me recognition. But I was missing the challenges of a daily newspaper.

Q: Is there any possibility of the New Indian Express and the Indian Express coming together to make a wider national presence ?

A: It is not within my purview or authority to answer such a question.

Q: How should I book my copy for Sunday Standard from Delhi? Will it be available in all the shops? Please do give a good advertising campaign for this new endeavour sir.

A: You don’t have to book. Just order your newspaper hawker to drop Sunday Standard along with your other papers. We will be promoting it as well.

Q: Persons like you, Arun Purie, Rajdeep Sardesai and Arun Goswami are loved by us. Why don’t you join openly with Baba Ramdev in his pursuit of a political career? Instead, you openly discourage him?

A: I can speak for myself only. I am not interested in joining politics. I support Baba’s cause but not his politics. I have interviewed him nine times.

Q: Why is media being called the fourth pillar of democracy although it is only doing business here?

A: I haven’t understood your question. Media is not just a pillar it is mirror for everyone to see his or her face.

Q: In England, even the monarch is under media scrutiny and the royal heirs and other family members are hounded by the UK media for juicy stories. Why is the Indian media being shy of doing investigative stories on Priyanka and Robert Vadra?

A: Media can’t chase a mirage. It was media which exposed Bofors. And it is the media which has exposed series of scams. We chase scandals without thinking about individuals.

Q: Forgive me for asking you about your fellow journalist Vinod Sharma of the Hindustan Times. He appears to be brazenly pro-UPA in his appearance as a panelist in the Times Now TV. He makes no bones to show his admiration for Manmohan Singh.

A: He is entitled to hold an opinion. It is for the viewers to accept or reject it.

Q: Why don’t we see interviews in any media with Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi for the last 2 to 3 months during the scams and price rise? Media are happy to give them titles like Woman of the Year, Young Face of India etc.

A: Media can’t force them or anyone else to give interviews.

Also read: Should Prabhu Chawla edit The New Indian Express?