Could the Mail bring some colour to India’s media?

Originally uploaded by littlesaint_uk.

I’ve just returned from a trip to India where I traveled around the southern states of Karnataka and Goa. It’s my third visit to India and each time I have kept up with world news mainly through Indian newspapers like the Times of India and the Hindu.

Having briefly worked on an Indian paper, I am interested in how the media there is affected by the changes to the industry that we have face in Europe. One thing I have noticed is fewer features and original news in Indian papers than previously. This is a shame both for the reader and for India-based journalists, many of whom must be itching to bring hard-hitting stories to their readers’ attention.

On my last visit, we read some excellent in-depth investigative journalism in the Indian Express. Now those feature pages seem to have disappeared. I am not sure whether this apparent decline in original journalism in India shares the same cause as the similar trend in British newspapers, but it is nonetheless disappointing.

Now, Indian papers seem to be made up of agency copy and articles syndicated from British and American newspapers. Of all of them the Hindu remains the best quality national paper with more in-depth articles and features than many of the others. In some newspapers the celebrity and lifestyle pages seem to be the most interesting parts of the paper.

All this suggests a fertile market for the Daily Mail to launch its Indian version of Mail Online. I’m not a big fan of the Mail but it seems that many Americans are following its success in getting stateside hits with its US Showbiz website.

The Mail is better at any other newspaper at knowing its UK market and in the case of the US Showbiz site it has translated its product successfully to an overseas market. Its foray across the Irish sea was less successful – maybe due to a less successful analysis of the Irish middle class – but it appears to be in Ireland for the long haul.

At first glance, the Mail’s Indian experiment seems promising. It combines Indian news with articles from its other websites on US and UK celebs (so soon people in India will have the misfortune of wall-to-wall Kardashian coverage).

The Indian move is a pretty good idea for the Mail. Not only does India have a population of 1 billion with 100m online, it has a burgeoning middle class – and middle class women are the paper’s core market in the UK. It will be interesting to see how Indian women respond to the Mail Online.

Roy Greenslade describes the launch as “a natural move” for the paper’s owner and I suspect it could be quite a successful one. I believe that the Mail’s market experts probably have a stronger handle on the Indian middle classand its requirements than they did with the Irish middle class. Their challenge now is to take on established competitors with print editions from an online only platform. I will watch with interest.

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