Vantage point

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Having read the reactions to my TOI post, and Ajay's counterpoint, I felt compelled to make this post.

More so because it is Ayn Rand's centenary, and people think I have misused the Money Speech.

Firstly, let me clarify that I do not condone TOI's wrong doings. If they filch material violating copyrights then it is wrong, and they should be punished for it. But I think, and readers can correct me if I am wrong, that this copied content still forms a very tiny portion of the total TOI content. Tomorrow if TOI was to stop printing filched content, the newspaper wouldn't go blank.

Now on to Rand.

The Money Speech does say that "Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason"

I think it is highly presumptuous to dismiss TOI as weakness or stupidity, and that was the whole point of my post. They have modified their content, something we perceive as "dumbed down", but that does not make it a stupidity or weakness. It is just something we do not have a taste for.

Coca Cola once modified their product, and came out with the infamous "New Coke". People hated it, the product bombed, and sales started declining. The company reintroduced Classic Coke, and New Coke was almost completely phased out. Here the market showed that when Coke changed its product (though it had been changed after rigorous MR), and the market hated the product, it stopped giving money to the Coca Cola company. The market forced the company back to Classic Coke.

MY POINT IS THAT THE INDIAN MARKET ISN'T DOING SO TO THE "NEW" TIMES OF INDIA. TOI's sales keep growing, and the company moves from strength to strength. It is clearly doing something right.

Now the point about lack of alternatives. Most of you say that TOI works because it is the "least worst". I ask you, why isn't there any alternative? Surely there is some astute businessman somewhere who can gauge a huge latent market for a quality newspaper like the "Classic" TOI. Then why doesn't he start such a newspaper for lakhs of us frustrated TOI haters?

Is it because we just aren't in such large numbers, so a businessman would be risking a huge loss?

to be continued...