Ever since I started working, reading the morning newspaper has become a luxury. Since most of my friends are also working, catching up with them happens only at night. Also since a size-able part of them are in the US, late night chats/ Google+ hangouts are frequent. Mornings usually resemble the Tropicana ad – a battle between sleep vs breakfast. Whoever wins this battle, the morning newspaper almost always loses.
Reading it after coming home in the evening is an option, but by then the topic is a day old and there would have been a lot of developments. Each and every news channel will be blaring it non-stop with incomprehensible and sometimes misleading headlines.
Thus, became this habit of reading news online.
Initially the habit started off with Times Of India mostly because many of my friends posted TOI articles on Facebook. But, anyone who is regular to the TOI site will know how the site is specifically designed in such a way as to irritate online readers. There is an ad before the site opens and to skip which you have to again click ‘Click here to go to timesofindia.com’. I mean that is the freaking reason I took the effort of typing timesofindia.indiatimes.com on the address bar didn’t I ? There are ads almost everywhere – when you click on the news item, when you click on any open space on the site, even when you don’t click on anything there are so many pop up ads.
And I haven’t even started on the quality of the articles in TOI. TOI makes a dedicated effort to exacerbate the headlines of an otherwise trifle news item just to get the hit count on the news article high. It has more of a marketing motive than an informant motive. You might say, what is wrong with getting a few hits on the site. After all this is how it makes money. Ok, alright ! This may be accepted if the article quality is good on important issues at least ! But no. This is not the case.
Articles are poorly researched. Placement figures are always quoted in rupees while the rupee is falling considerably. I remember some Redmond International which had gone for placement to BITS Pilani (It was actually Microsoft, Redmond campus). There is this another famous pic that goes around which shows how The Hindu and TOI interpret the same news article. There is another erudite article by the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on the accuracy of news articles in current news media which has references to TOI and quite frankly the newspaper has a lot to learn from that single article.
It is in this juncture that I turned to The Hindu’s site. It has minimalist layout. Less ads. Eloquent articles. An important feature that I like about the Hindu news site is their comment feature. It has these specifically mentioned there –
3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters,
or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text (example: u cannot
substitute for you, d is not ‘the’, n is not ‘and’).
4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.
So, even if the article is flawed or biased, the readers engage in a matured debate. If you want to know what is mature debate, have a look at the comments of any article on the TOI site. That is what we call immature.
Thus, I am not surprised that when TOI came up with this ad campaign for their Chennai Edition saying that people who read The Hindu doze off while reading (though not explicitly named as The Hindu, but we can see the newspaper’s Op-ed page pretty clearly), Hindu slapped back with these ads.
Well Played Hindu !