‘Deccan Herald’ tests the forces of media gravity

Karnataka’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, has made a brave northwards foray with the launch of its New Delhi edition on 11 December 2011, 100 years after political power moved to the national capital from the east.

Vol 1, No 1 of the 63-year-old Bangalore daily arrived this morning in the usual quiet, understated manner in which The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd conducts things: no carpet bombing of copies, no “roadblock” of hoardings, no massive pre-subscription drives.

“We are happy to start the Delhi edition of Deccan Herald today. It’s the seventh edition since we launched the newspaper in Bangalore in June, 1948. Our strength is the trust we have won from our readers—a trust built on credibility and our commitment to objectivity. We offer you comprehensive coverage of news without bias,” said a front-page note from the paper’s editor, K.N. Tilak Kumar.

The launch issue with a cover price of Rs 5 has a 20-page main edition and this being a Sunday, an 8-page weekend culture section titled Sunday Herald. During the week, DH will serve Delhi versions of its usual fare:  a four-days-a-week city supplement titled Metrolife and a lifestyle supplement on Saturday titled Living.

Printed at the Indian Express press in Noida, DH‘s Delhi edition with four local pages gives the regional daily a more national profile, useful for reporters and newsmakers; and an additional publication centre that can be used to good effect on the advertisement tariff card.

But it also comes with massive challenges. The “Deccan” in the paper’s title has a distinctly south Indian feel; will it find resonance among readers in the North? Second, the New Delhi morning market is crowded with over a dozen newspapers and with at least two more coming; can DH aspire for anything more than “organic growth”?

However, for sheer chutzpah, the timing of the Delhi launch takes some doing. Newspapers like The Telegraph have  pondered coming to Delhi for at least 15 years but have not found the strength to do so. Also, DH comes at a time when the Indian newspaper industry is facing several existential issues.

But DH has established itself as a horse for the long race over six decades. The arrival, therefore, of a serious newspaper from a group which has no interests other than journalism, when the Indian media is being asked probing questions on its methods, motives and motivations, can only be good augury.

Also readComing soon, Deccan Herald from New Delhi

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia!

How Deccan Herald welcomed the Republic of India

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10 Responses to “‘Deccan Herald’ tests the forces of media gravity”

  1. satish Says:

    All the best for DH team. I wish to see first English newspaper from Karnataka do well in the national capital.

  2. sudhir Says:

    It’s great that one more newspaper from the south has Delhi edition. I wish DH the very best

  3. Yella Ok Says:

    Good luck. I agree with the last para. I also have concerns about the financial viability of the edition and what it could mean to the publications back south if the foray bombs. And, why did they not venture into other southern markets, other mediums (tv, radio), so far defeats me. Anyway, a highly unexpected curious move to watch out for.

  4. Deepak Says:

    This, indeed, is a heartening news. It should have come long back. Nevertheless, better late than never. All the best.

  5. Angry Young Man Says:

    How long before the congress party and the family lure this revered paper over to their side by bribing the owners with millions of dollars of the money they have looted?

    How long before this paper tries to suck up to the politicos in Delhi, as has been the fate of other Delhi based newspapers before?

    How long before this paper, in its quest for commercial gain, sacrifices ethics and morality to follow the example set by Times of India?

    How long before this paper too starts to have a distinct North Indian flavour, forgetting that its roots lie in Karnataka’s culture?

    How long before some Northie takes over editorship of this paper, or some Northie conglomerate buys it up?

    Someone please tell me I’m wrong.

  6. dr ramesh Says:

    Best wishes to the deccan herald team for its new venture. Dh has improved greatly in terms of quality in the last two years. It is slowly but surely standing ground against page 3 newspapers in karnataka. Dh should do well in political hotbed ,delhi.

  7. iamac Says:

    I wonder what are the existential threats that newspapers are facing nowadays. Can someone plz list them. Thanks!

  8. Vinay Says:

    Angry Young Man:

    Get a grip on your inferiority complex.

    Why don’t you feel that some “Southie editor” can take over editorship of some “Northie paper”?

    Always thinking that the “Northies” are going to take over everything and dominate, smacks of worst kind of inferiority complex.

    But I share your concerns about DH becoming a politico suck-up paper. Hope that doesn’t happen.

  9. pdk Says:

    iamac,

    Some of the existential threats could be:

    1. A ruling govt may decide to shut down a newspaper (How the BJP govt. hounded Tehelka promoters). They may not succeed. But then the newspaper/magazine/webzine may not succeed either – Tehelka is a pale shadow of its former self.

    2. The necessity for cash to run the newspaper may not be forthcoming. They would have to cut down on necessary things like reporters etc. Subscription-driven model may not be enough to keep the presses running. Enter corporate advertisements and govt handouts. This may rob the newspapers of their independence (Manufacturing Consent. ‘May rob’ could be wrong since I believe it is already happening. This may lead to disenchantment with newspapers and drop in circulation.

    3. Readers may increasingly prefer unmediated online sources (Churumuri) or TV. See Fall in Newspaper Sales Accelerates to Pass 7%.

    4. In a bid to boost circulation figures, some newspapers may resort to supplements containing photos of skimpily clad women (and to some extent men) and use similar photos to illustrate even their main newspaper stories. This may lead to newspapers losing the ‘news’ aspect, and becoming tabloids mainly (Times of India).

    I think those cover it from my end :-)

  10. gagan Says:

    I remember reading Deccan Herald as a kid. And being unable to pronounce “herald” rightly and would say “hernald”.

    Well, about the business in North. I feel delhi specially has good number of offices of various politicians and social groups and not to forget the IAS and other official class. I feel this is the biggest market for DH. And DH can also count on the Southie people living north who expect “their” south taste. I have seen some tamil families in Karnataka subscribing to DH apart from Hindu.

    On the down side, i came to know that recently Hindu lost its prime position in Delhi and TOI has gained a strong base there. So, thats a great challenge. DH will have to eye on the Hindu readers and try to get back those formerly Hindu readers who went to TOI..

    No wonder, today’s Prajavani frontpage had Shantkumar presenting a copy to the “i am not lame duck PM” :D …

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