Shephali Bhatt
Mar 19, 2012

Q&A: N Ram, former editor-in-chief, The Hindu

Campaign India caught up with N Ram, director, Kasturi & Sons, former editor-in-chief, The Hindu, to know his thoughts on future of long format of journalism and more

Q&A: N Ram, former editor-in-chief, The Hindu

How do you perceive the viability of long format magazines like Frontline in India viz-a-viz the rest of the world?
Magazines with longer articles are a great idea. Magazines like Caravan have been doing pretty well of late. Any country which values its journalism, should support long form journalism. But they don’t make huge money. To run a long format magazine, you need some other properties to subsidise the former, because they need not make money; likeFrontline didn’t make money. It was treated as a cross-subsidised property within the organisation. Nobody is going to sustain such a magazine for a long time unless it’s a foundation.

Under what circumstances then, do you see long form journalism sustain itself?
If and when digital becomes viable and pays for itself, then I think long form journalism will have tremendous opportunities. Then long form journalism can be very well entrenched on that platform. Although the demand on the medium is very clear now; people want short news. I myself have edited the editorial pieces of 1600 words to 1250. This is how people read newspapers these days. One of the best practitioners of digital journalism are Guardian. But they are not making money from the digital apps.

Is there a scope of regional English news channels like NDTV The Hindu anywhere else in the country?
For such channels, you need massive advertising support. You also have to pay the cable operator, the MSOs (Multiple System Operators). It takes a huge amount. Many crores in some cases. There was a time when we were told to price the ads below the rates for FM stations. It was an experiment that failed, we got out at the right time. It’s now been bought by Dina Thanthi. But such channels can actually work, depending on the market you tread in. 

Campaign India

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