Vantage point

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Does TOI really deserve all this bashing?

Does Times of India really deserve all this bashing that it gets at the hands of us bloggers? Does Times of India really care, is another question, but let us handle one question at a time.

Over the past few years, a vast majority of the english-speaking Indian upper class has been lambasting the Times of India for "dumbing down". We have been saddened by the transformation of a respected media institution into an elaborate tabloid.

But take a peek within the Times family. Today the Times group employs more people than ever before, with its activities spanning newspapers, magazines, radio stations, music production, and also a TV channel. It has grown into a behemoth which makes money.

And as someone who swears by the "Money Speech", I think this is a sign that the company is doing something right. Because it is not looting, pillaging, stealing, or defrauding anyone to earn this money. All its wealth has been earned by legal means.

A company can earn so much money consistently only if it is treating its employees, business partners properly, and if it is listening to what its customers want.

In the light of all that, the cribs against TOI(and I have been one of those cribbing) seem like they are missing something. So TOI no longer fulfils our expectations of what a proper newspaper should be. So what? It is surely fulfilling the expectations of lakhs who outnumber us vastly.

Most of us will bandy terms like "journalistic responsibility", but in the long run, they are just words, aren't they? In a free market, a company can survive only if its customers happy. And Times is not just surviving, it is flourishing.

So calling it the "Slimes of India" may be a nice way to vent our frustration at our erstwhile favourite respectable newspaper turning into a flippant publication. but it is not productive.

Let us take our business elsewhere, and read other newspapers that satisfy us. And let us admire the great strides this company is making. If you look at it from a vision not clouded by irritation at its plunging editorial standards, you will see a very successful business case, one which should be taught in all the B-schools.

So let us not waste our time just lambasting TOI. Because it seems as churlish as kids throwing pebbles at an elephant because they hate the fact that the baby elephant they adored has now become a big ugly hulk. Instead let us go and find another baby elephant, or let us find an animal which will stay adorable forever and ever.