TOI is coming!

When I was in journalism school, there was a joke going around. Every year since then that joke has been repeated with unerring frequency. The news that Times of India was coming to Chennai, at first a matter of intense debate, in recent years had also become a joke.

But the newspaper has finally decided to show up. Though I am not aware of the launch date, I know for sure they are going to launch in a month or two. Apparently, the who’s who of Chennai’s journalists are already queuing up to be hired for the newspaper has actually started that process.

Perhaps now is the time to end those years of debating whether the printing presses have arrived or not. Or the discussions over whether TOI will beat The Hindu in its own backyard. We will soon know. Just a month or two more. Journalism is Chennai will no longer have the whiff of conservatism to it.

28 Comments so far

  1. Partha (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

    I don’t care if a publication is conservative or liberal. What I object to is the new crop of journalists in India who are lazy to do any hard work to ascertain facts for themselves before publishing. I also fault the editors for being so lax on checking what is truth and what is just hype.

    Just the other day I saw a report in the Business Line from a correspondent in Mumbai casually passing on the myth that Dr. Pachauri is the seventh indian to win a Nobel prize. The Nobel peace prize for 2007 was awarded to Mr. Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Dr. Pachauri just happened to be the head of IPCC in 2007.

    TOI publications are notorious for hyped reports without much critical scrutiny. Lately, the Hindu group of publications is doing the same thing, especially in reports filed by correspondents in Hyderabad and Bengalooru.

    Indian journalism is more and more fantasy. Unfortunately, it has a role model in the US in the form of Fox News.

  2. Guru (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

    This is good news, i’ve always been a fan of TOI. Everytime i travel by trains, that is when i get to read TOI. And though there are three English dailies right now, The Hindu does not really have any competition. Now i guess the people at Hindu need to start watching their backs.

  3. randramble (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

    This post should actually sound as a warning to Chennai residents! If you really want a good newspaper, just shun ToI like the plague! Don’t let Chennai become another Bangalore!

  4. Murali (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

    Nandhu –
    I think there is some truth to what Partha was pointing out. I always felt disintegration of India is mainly due to the failure of journalism and its legal system. Each and every High Court judge in chennai is corrupt, I even know a retired supreme court judge who was corrupt (What the heck, his name was laxmanan).
    I always had an outsider’s view on journalism. In my view there are 2 things why journalism fails in India
    1. There is no code of ethics for journalist. Journalism is viewed as a money making industry. For example, if there is heavy wind in Chennai, the headline news in Dinathanthi will be, “Heavy wind in Chennai, Kushbhu sari paranthathu”.
    2. People could be scared bunch, but journalist can’t be. I know the political party could make your life miserable if you go against them, but that does not give you the right to bend the truth right? Journalist should stand up.
    Newspaper have such swadesamitran, Young India Journal, The Hindu etc let us stand against the mighty empire. But they are in a pathetic state right now.
    As I said its an outsider’s view on journalism. What’s your thought on this?
    Sorry to hijack your blog on a totally different tangent. I guess its frustration which is coming out.

  5. Vatsal (unregistered) on January 13th, 2008 @ 11:19 pm

    Well, at last the Hindu has some competition. Whatever you say about the TOI, they keep the language light and easily relate to today’s generation. That is why they are a hit wherever they go. The old and fastidious in Chennai will stick to the good old Hindu but I see a lot of young ones going for the TOI. Of course, the glamor quotient will be a lot lesser in the entertainment portions considering that very few celibrities from other parts of India will be covered.

  6. ramesh (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 6:09 am

    Can some one please do a blog on Madras Bashai as I am interested to know more about this language.

  7. sachin (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 9:55 am

    for those of you who have had the fortune of reading the bombay times – what do you think the equivalent madras/chennai times might contain? lol.

    I dunno if we have a thriving kollywood party circuit or social event bandwagon or fashion industry that could fill up 6 pages everyday!

    Looking forward to the Madras Times!

  8. Chennaiite (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 11:46 am

    Unrelated to this post…Excerpt from – a fun post…Loved this…
    “…Outlook Magazine runs a cover story on how Chennai is a conservative city and demeans young people. It is angrily criticised on Chennai Metblogs. Chennai Metblogs then attracts fifty commentors complaining that Chennai is not conservative enough….

  9. Ravikumar (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    I was in chennai for 7 years and recently moved to Bangalore. When in chennai, I was a regular reade of “The Hindu”. In Bangalore, its TOI. One immedifate difference I can see is that, “The Hindu” in Chennai not only covers the chennai news, but also important news from rest of tamilnadu. Whereas, TOI talks one and only about Bangalore and there is nothing in it about the rest of Karnataka. Also TOI gives much hype and hoopla around the infrastructure development in Bangalore though if they are in nascent stages.

  10. Anonymous Coward (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    //for those of you who have had the fortune of reading the bombay times – what do you think the equivalent madras/chennai times might contain? lol.
    we don’t have a page 3 circuit here. we will be happy even if those 6 pages are blank.

    Competition is Liberty.

  11. Srivatsan K. Iyengar (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    Being a Bombay resident, there was a time when TOI was really worth reading……..with the advent of Bombay Times, I stopped subscribing to TOI. Who cares where was Kareena the previous night, with who etc….. one might notice a lot of spelling mistakes + sentences totally confusing…..No doubt it still makes for a good reading.. for TOI south india news is just Bangalore, IT. No coverage of the recent floods in TN. I am not sure how old timers would accept TOI, but The Hindu definitely with their arrogance, growing by the day with a strong pro-communism and DK/DMK ideologies needs to be shunned.

    Last but not the least.. some one has mentioned about Madras Times….pages would be blank. Celebrity crazy TN would get their dose of the stuff because, anything and everything done by TV stars and cinestars is reported we can see that in tamil news channels and the tamil magazines, papers….


  12. vatsal (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

    I agree…all the wannabes, and that does not exclude too many of the local stars, who wanted to make it at a national level but never stood half a chance will now get to hog space in Madras Times.

    Maybe they are already looking up spaces they should be seen in…

  13. Ravi (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

    Many times, I used to feel that ToI is the English equivalent of the “Dhina thanthi” daily. ToI gives much focus on gossip and show biz stories. I was kind of taken back (and irritated as well) when the news of Abishek Bachchan’s uncle visiting a Bangalore astrologer with the horoscopes of Aish and Abishek made front page news. But what I like about ToI is it gives insight into most news (like the history of the news, factfile etc.) which is kind of lacking in papers like Hindu.

  14. AARVEE (unregistered) on January 14th, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

    Ok Chennai’s toilet tissue market has a competitor now ? Very good. TOI at best is that.

  15. Ashok (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 1:01 am

    So the TOI-let paper is coming to chennai :-)

  16. vatsal (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    I agree…the Hindu is giving up its cause as a toilet paper to the TOI. The old order changeth…

    It is funny to see the resistance to a new newspaper in a land where there is total monopoly of just one newspaper. Give the others a chance…you never know.

  17. vatsal (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    I agree…the Hindu is giving up its cause as a toilet paper to the TOI. The old order changeth…

    It is funny to see the resistance to a new newspaper in a land where there is total monopoly of just one newspaper. Give the others a chance…you never know.

  18. hmm (unregistered) on January 15th, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

    for a kind information to all Deccn Chronicle is the highest selling paper in Chennai, it was raped Hindu badly…not with TOI coming to chennai only old bastrards will read the pro communist anti hindu paper.
    I wil be happy to see Hindu paper wiped out of India

  19. S. Krishnamoorthy (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 10:53 am

    There will be no difference between The Hindu and TOI. Both of them wear masks. The Hindu wears the red colour mask and supports Congress. The TOI wears green colour masks and supports Congress.

  20. Guru (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    Hmm, posted the same news on my blog too. You could check that out if you can spare the time The TOI (Finally) Comes To Chennai …

    Regardless of how sic the TOI is in other cities, the TOI will surely be able to compete with ‘The Hindu’. And i’ve actually gotten tired of the Hindu now, and i’m sure many here feel the same way about the Hindu. And then maybe with the TOI on their heels The Hindu will become better. I see this as a very good news cos’ it gives the reader more choice. ( Ditch the DC, the TOI will be a mix of Hindu and DC, and be good at that).

  21. Pisipati Sriram (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

    From a reader point of view, the wider the choice, the better it is. The more the number of newspapers or private news channels, the better it is. If some reader finds news coverage in a particular daily or channel is pure crap, he has all the freedom to stop subscribing to it. After all readers are not under compulsion to buy this paper or that paper or to endorse the content that goes in papers. Discerning readers can easily through a news report/article/edit or whatever it is and form an opinion whether they are facts or views of reporters/editors.

    Readers are intelligent enough to distinguish between real news and trash that goes in the name of news in daily newspapers. If they find news authentic enough they continue to subscribe or will stop doing so, however colourful the newspaper is with all modern layouts, page make-up, colour transparencies, lifestyle news, cinema gossip and what not.

    Same is the case with articles, analysis, leaders in edit page etc written by inhouse talent, commissioned writers, syndicated writers and analysts, specialists with domain expertise etc. Serious, not casual, readers know easily whether the article story is a plant, a doctored or an engineered write-up to achieve a specific goal or to futher one’s personal agenda or political beliefs and philosophy.

    That is why, if the choice is wider, readers will have option to filter trash. The more the merrier

  22. Karthik Thirumalai (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

    I agree with Partha, glitz and glamour are not what’s needed in journalism. If people need that kind of news, they should read Star Dust or something. He’s also right on, when talking about the Fox News model of “journalism and media”. It’s about providing facts and analysis that is true to the spirit of democracy, explaining the issues, so that it benefits every strata of the society. US democracy has been sold to the highest bidder, and it’s not far away when things are that way in India as well, especially in a place where the less fortunate have no other means to protect themselves.

  23. Karthik Thirumalai (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 9:19 pm


    I am sorry but I strongly dis-agree with majority of what you have to say. It’s very naive and dangerous to believe that more private TV channels and newspapers will automatically mean transparency and honesty. This is exactly what’s happening in the US, this model of saying that when there is more competition democracy thrives.

    We get honest journalism when you push for it, and just because people can switch off the TV channel or stop buying the newspaper that they don’t like, is not enough and only fits the discerning viewer that you are talking about. There are lots of people who CAN’T discern, and they have the ablity to vote to change things for the worse, so it’s important to keep a constant vigil on the kinda news being dumped on us.
    That is exactly the reason we have a war in Iraq that has killed thousands.

  24. Pisipati Sriram (unregistered) on January 17th, 2008 @ 9:54 am

    Many readers are interested in more accurate and factual information about events and incidents that happen in everyday life and developments that affet them directly or indirectly in one way or the other. If the information is incomplete, piecemeal or wide off the reality, credibility of such news is lost. When there are avenues of getting information from different newspapers and channels, he will get a more clear picture. And possibly such facility should be welcome.

    It is in this context more newspapers and channels are welcome, with some regulation. Secondly in a monopoly or oligarchic situation where only a few papers or channels operate, readers/TV viewers have no other option. When there are more players in the field, the choice is wider for the reader public at large. If a reader feels that the information he is getting proximates the reality he is familiar with, he will trust and continue to read/subscribe. Otherwise, he will stop doing so based on his own understanding and perceptions.

    When people lose credibility in the news or information furnished by some newspapers or channels, they disappear from the scene in no time due to lack of patronage. In a market-driven consumerist society expecting total transparency and honesty even in media is like asking for the moon.

    One cannot draw clear-cut lines in news evaluation or reader preferences as they vary from region to region, and depends on many factors.

  25. vatsal (unregistered) on January 17th, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

    “That is exactly the reason we have a war in Iraq that has killed thousands.”

    What exactly was the reason? Bad news channels and bad reporting all over the world?

    And pray, how do you push for honest journalism? Who decides what is honest journalism? You, me, the newspaper, government, the law, who? Most major newspapers in this country are controlled by a lobby or by a political party. And what you are talking of here is controlling the news, which is precisely what these lobbies want. However, with more competition, you will have news from different lobbies competing for the same space. Case in point: Jaya TV and whatever MK’s channel is called. Between the two, you get to choose who you want to believe or toe a middle line.

    However, I think your concern lies elsewhere, something that does not come forthrightly in your comment. Maybe you should make that clear.

  26. Pisipati Sriram (unregistered) on January 18th, 2008 @ 8:58 am

    When realty is different from what one reads in newspapers or sees in TV channels, people start suspecting the authenticity and credibility of news. For instance take the handling of the just-concluded Pongal festival rush by the railways and the RTC in AP. Its a area or region-specific issue but then it applies more or less everywhere on festival occasions. It is common knowledge that during festival days – more so if extended week-end holidays are also included – there will be heavy rush on public transportation.

    The railways and RTC made some arrangements, but far short of the massive demand. It resulted in outright looting of passengers. In festival Special buses, double rates were charged with facilities far from edifying. In some buses there were not even proper windows and the doors jamming. Added to it fifteen to 20 days before there were block bookings. So much about RTC festival services for travelling public.

    In the railways, in the name of tatkal, the generak reservation quota is reduced (from 14 coaches to 4 general reservation) to increase tatkal in longdistance trains. This enabled railways to charge more till the train destination. Apart from inadequate services, tatkal rates are heavy and terrible lack of accommodation.

    Ordinary people expect problems like these highlighted in the media with the hope the authorities would take steps to see that public travel is made more more comfortable.

    Instead of highlighting such issues of rampant exploitation, when newspapers carry about out of context statements of ministers and officials, plans about railways expansions, ribbon cutting functions of ticket and on online counters, RTC’s future plans (!) etc which are not relevant to the context or the occasion, people lose credibility in news. There maybe many more such issues which affect commmon people but this is only an example of public concern.

    Newspapers and channels may have their own limitations and constraints (like ad revenue they get from these public utilities etc) and may not be able to carry reports adverse to them. In such conditions credibility becomes a casuality.

    Public service journalism is always welcome and appreciated as it serves as a bridge between the rulers and the ruled, I feel.

  27. subbu (unregistered) on January 24th, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

    i beg to differ on one count.. yes chennai needs competition that too toi as the readers will come to know the real meaning of quality journalism not only in content but also the product packaging as a whole.. including the printing quality and images and wide variety in value additions..

    i am confident that the hindu known for its high standards will not only measure up and stand tall with its head held high against the so called worlds largest selling english daily in chennai..

    not many in india is aware that the world’s largest circulated daily in from japan and it sells a whopping 24 millions copies per day where as toi is selling 3.5 million and the vast majority goes to raddi market…. this is real and the world will know very soon…

    welcome toi to chennai to open up the minds and souls of cynics in chennai who are dreaming about the dooms day for the hindu…

  28. AP (unregistered) on January 25th, 2008 @ 3:15 am

    Subbu, what is ‘raddi market’?

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