15 May 2008

Sport A Hat This Summer

Not long ago, The Times of India used to be a newspaper in India, of Indians, by Indians, for Indians. That was in its paper version. Then the Internet happened. Like most older entities, the 'The Old Lady of Bori Bunder' could not figure out the Internet, and how to deal with it.

Allow me to digress a little. Sometime in the late 1980s the ToI ownership underwent a generational change. In line with changes in ownership, the management team also underwent a change. The term 'management team' itself should have set off red flags! Newspapers were meant to have editorial boards, not management teams. Anyway, one of the first changes to happen was that the ToI decided that the staid black-and-white look will not do, it started printing pages in colour. While the decision to go colour was more of a technology decision - in that the capability, to print in colour, was available at a affordable and cheaper price, the decisions that followed or accompanied it were not technology decisions. They were dictated more by a change in management and, therefore, by a change in management thinking. The ToI management made the decision to treat the news business like a commercial venture, and, profit-and-loss considerations, rather than editorial decisions, started to dictate what would appear in the newspaper and what would not. In line with this new management attitude, The ToI acquired a corporate look and feel, and started to recruit MBAs to run the paper like a business. Marketing professionals(?) started to define a new audience for the newspaper, and all of a sudden the ToI started to become all things to all people. Sports had always been there, it just gained in prominence. Youth Times, College Times, Delhi Times, Patna Times, Science Times, Lifestyle Times, Bizarre Times - somebody just had to think of it and the marketing types would jump on the idea.

Little digression over, Time(s) :) to get back on track. In the age of the Internet and the marketing professionals, was added a new factor. The expanding Indian diaspora. The ToI had a new market! That was just the excuse The ToI management needed to start printing all the junk that was earlier found in American or British fashion glossies, tabloids, and travel magazines. So now, you get to know about the life and times of Brangelina(who?), of Prince William, and 50 cent. Never mind the fact that a majority of the intended audience doesn't care for the foreign tag anymore. Give them something Indian to be proud of, and they will be more receptive to that. Witness the excitement generated by the Nano - the entire automotive world was there to report its launch. But the Nano launch was an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime event.

However, the ToI is apparently not run by people who have any pride in their being Indian; they still have that fixation with things foreign. So we have this ridiculous story in the the ToI - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Lifestyle/Trends/Sport_a_hat_this_summer/articleshow/3035441.cms.

True to the title, this story is about wearing a hat this summer. The story tells you that you should wear a hat which suits the shape of your face type. People with round faces should wear asymmetrically brimmed hats and people with large faces should wear wide brimmed hats. Wow! What wisdom! Thank you, O exalted ones on the editorial board of the the ToI. Never mnid that no one wears hats even in America these days. But who are we to complain? We do not belong to the decision making class. We belong to the class which is used to have its decisions made for us.

Unfortunately, that is the same class that the editorial board of the ToI belongs to. Otherwise, they wouldn't be blindly copying tabloid stories. They even go to the extent of copying agency reports for things happening in India.

Can they get an Indian to work for them, please?

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