Tuesday, January 15, 2002

The front page is the soul of a newspaper. Not so long ago Times of India sold its soul to Indya.com. Today, Indian Express sold a part of it -- by plastering a Whirlpool banner advertisement right below its masthead.
In Indian Express's case the transgression of reader interest is excusable. I assume every ad for it is a matter of survival (like it was, if I remember correctly, for Afternoon Dispatch and Courier, a Bombay based tabloid, which had a full page ad on its front page). In the case of the Times it was greed. Pure and simple.
A lot of people will argue that a newspaper is like any other product, say a soap or a toothpaste, and the bottomline is sacred.
I don't buy the argument, simply because you can't compromise on quality for a few rupees more. Imagine the company that manufactures your toothpaste suddenly changing the flavour of its product because it's cheaper to make.
Selling the front page of a newspaper is a similar act. It's one page that defines a newspaper more than anything else on it.

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