The reader is not interested in the story

First published in Scroll.in on 9 December 2014.

Some years ago, I was a reporter in the founding team of a new news magazine. When the magazine launched, the marketing team sent journalists an email saying that we could gift four free subscriptions to anyone we liked, but could we please make sure the four recipients fell within the magazine’s TG?

I wondered what TG meant. The only TG I knew was transgendered. The marketing team explained that the TG they were referring to was Target Group. Our Target Group wasn’t merely SEC A++ as with most English language media. (SEC? Ah, socio-economic category.) There was more to the definition of our TG. The magazine’s ideal reader was someone whose monthly household income was Rs 2 lakh. Some months later they felt that was too ambitious, so reduced it to Rs 1.5 lakh. Wait, there was yet more. There was a category called bull’s eye. We’d hit bull’s eye if we could capture the attention of the reader who lived in one of the big metros, spent weekends in places such as malls where disposable income is spent, had a smart phone (which wasn’t yet ubiquitous), took at least one foreign holiday a year and had a “Segment C” car (which cost above Rs 5.5 lakh in those days). Continue reading “The reader is not interested in the story”

A brief history of the decade that saw social media redefine the ‘mainstream’ news outlets

First published in Scroll.in on 26 December 2014.

It is the biggest natural disaster in living memory. It killed 2,30,000 people in 14 countries. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck at a time when many were busy with Christmas holidays. It was exactly ten years ago.

There is a lot for the world to remember and learn, but for many of us it is also an anniversary of another kind. When the tsunami struck, bloggers Peter Griffin, Dina Mehta, Bala Pitchandi, Sunil Nair, Angelo Embuldeniya and others got the TsunamiHelp blog going. The TsunamiHelp blog became a global news story by itself. Large media organisations such as the Guardian, the BBC and CNN wondered how a bunch of bloggers were able to collect and disseminate information about the tsunami much faster and better than the mainstream media with all its resources. Media coverage of the tsunami was quite bad to begin with, because it was holiday season, nobody knew what the tsunami was, and the locations were remote and widely spread. Continue reading “A brief history of the decade that saw social media redefine the ‘mainstream’ news outlets”