Campaign India Team
Jan 28, 2009

(Not) learning from Vir Sanghvi

I always thought of Vir Sanghvi as a journalist and columnist. Now I know he’s more than just that; he’s a marketer as well.While millions (literally) of blogs are launched each year, a few get noticed and fewer still are successful.Sanghvi’s blog has got noticed on the very first day it went live and is on the way to success.I was told of the site because it had a reference to the magazine that I edit, Campaign India.

(Not) learning from Vir Sanghvi

I always thought of Vir Sanghvi as a journalist and columnist. Now I know he’s more than just that; he’s a marketer as well.

While millions (literally) of blogs are launched each year, a few get noticed and fewer still are successful.

Sanghvi’s blog has got noticed on the very first day it went live and is on the way to success.

I was told of the site because it had a reference to the magazine that I edit, Campaign India.

The portion of the post that is relevant to our readers is reproduced below. All highlights are Sanghvi’s:

“My one brush with business journalism came last year when I left News X, a TV channel I had been briefly involved with.

This gave me a chance to see the workings of the media from the other side. Some conclusions: trade publications decide coverage on the basis of advertising. Or they are just incompetent. The single most unprofessional story appeared (or was planted) in something called Campaign India, which I had never heard off. Ditto with some web-sites.  Indian Television.com carried stories without bothering to look for attribution, sourcing or comment. Best of the lot was Exchange4Media where every story was accurate, well-researched and fair.

In print, the best was Business Standard where the irresponsibility of junior reporters was over-ruled by experienced senior journalists who double-checked every story and carried only the facts.

Easily the worst was Mint ---- ironic because I am a columnist ---- which managed to get basic details wrong, running biased and inaccurate reports and then following them up with a series of wildly speculative (always attributed to "a source close to the situation") stories which (long after I had left and other NewsX issues were being featured)
nearly always demonstrated a total misunderstanding of the situation.”

Sanghvi says that the ‘single most unprofessional story appeared (or was planted) in something called Campaign India, which I had never heard off’.

Never heard of? Sanghvi’s showing Ghajini-like symptoms of a poor memory. My colleagues Dominic Mills, Jim James and I MET Sanghvi as he was finishing a meeting with Indrani Mukerjea and we were due to start one with Indrani. After we were introduced to each other by Indrani, all that we spoke about was Campaign India; keeping Indrani posted on Campaign India’s plans was the only objective for the meeting. He was also on the mailing list and received a personal copy delivered by courier fortnight after fortnight.

Surely, he’s heard of (not ‘off’, Mr. Sanghvi) Campaign India, even if he doesn’t like the magazine. Liking or not liking the magazine is certainly his prerogative.

What’s there to like? We were the first to report on his imminent exit from INX Media. We predicted it would happen, we staked our reputation on the certainty of the departure – and we were right. The details were right, the report was accurate. Was it biased? No. It was an astute understanding of the situation, where we read the writing on the wall correctly – that Indrani would win the battle.

To use such a broad stroke of the brush and paint the entire trade media black is an irresponsibility that bloggers can indulge in and mainstream media can’t. He has made a couple of ‘conclusions’ from his ‘one brush’ with business journalism.

That’s a lot of research, Mr. Sanghvi.

Perhaps you should try your hand at editing a trade or business publication, Mr. Sanghvi. Unlike a daily newspaper or a weekend supplement, trade media succeeds or fails on credibility or the lack thereof.

In our reporting, we need to be accurate. In our predictions, we need to be correct. In our analysis, we need to demonstrate understanding of the industry we write about. We, at Campaign India, need to do this day after day on the dotcom, and fortnight after fortnight with the print edition.

We grow on the respect that our readers and the subjects of our content have for us.

At Campaign India, we have done well in the year and a bit since we launched. Our readers have grown in number and quality and, consequently, so has the width of our advertisers.

Hindustan Times and Mint (who fed Mr. Sanghvi and whose hand he bit), for example, have started advertising regularly in Campaign India. They do so, presumably, because there is belief and conviction in the marketing departments of both newspapers that the magazine is an apt vehicle to carry messages to the people who matter in advertising and media agencies.

Sanghvi suggests that the story on his departure was ‘planted’. Again, Mr. Sanghvi, you demonstrate a very poor understanding of the workings of a trade magazine. Almost all ‘breaking news’ and exclusive stories come from sources who leak it – and there is a very thin line that separates a respectable exclusive from a plant. It is an editor’s job to figure out when it is a plant – and to throw the story into a dustbin.

In the particular instance of the cover page story on Mr. Sanghvi’s imminent exit, I have two things to say. I do not believe that, as on that Tuesday when I wrote the story, that his departure was officially cast in stone. The magazine reached readers in Mumbai on Wednesday and reached Mr. Sanghvi’s office on Thursday. He could have proved us completely wrong and left us with egg on our face if he stayed on. For Campaign India to have credibility, he had to resign before the next issue.

That was in your control, Mr. Sanghvi. And you blew it by quitting.

PS. Some semantics and nitpicking:

year when I left News X”: It is not ‘News X’, Mr. Sanghvi, it is ‘NewsX’ as you accurately write a few lines later. Two spellings for a company in the same column? Tsk. Tsk.

The single most unprofessional story appeared (or was planted) in something called Campaign India, which “I had never heard off. Ditto with some web-sites”:  Wow. The ‘single most unprofessional'… and ditto with some websites? If they’re ditto us, we can’t be the single most, can we, Mr. Sanghvi?”

“Easily the worst was Mint”. That’s a double wow. Campagn India is the single most whatever, we have some dittos and Mint is ‘easily the worst.’

Thank God Mr Sanghvi had Priya to do his subbing. I would hate to have that responsibility.

Source:
Campaign India