Vinod Mehta Editor-in-Chief, Outlook
Delhi | September 23, 2009
“Marketing cannot sell on its own. What sells is the quality of the product. If you have a poor product, no amount of marketing can sell it,” says Vinod Mehta, one of the greatest editors in Indian magazine history in an exclusive interview to BestMediaInfo.com.
Q) You’ve been in journalism for more than 30 years now, what all major changes have you observed in journalism in India over the years?
Competition has increased tremendously, technology has improved, internet is posing new challenges. The media scene has undergone a radical change.
Q) With time, issue-based journalism has turned into market based journalism. How much has quality and creativity had to suffer?
Quality has not suffered; in fact it has improved in most areas. There is a certain amount of triviality and celebrity-mania in the media, but over all scrutiny of public figures and their activities has gone up, not down.
Q) Are you apprehensive about the falling readership of magazine?
Q) Newspapers and magazines in the west are dying a slow death and internet is becoming an easy access to the information. How do you see it in Indian perspective?
The print media has to come to terms with the new media. We must change or we die.
Q) Can TV, newspapers, magazines and internet co-exist in India in that case?
They can coexist. And prosper if the challenges of change are met.
Q) You edited India’s original weekly newspaper, The Sunday Observer; do you think that in today’s scenario when there are too many resources of getting news and analysis, these weekly papers still have a scope?
Weekly papers have great relevance still. We can give in-depth coverage which TV can’t and dailies do inadequately.
Q) For any publication to survive, money and marketing are the only keys, editorial no more remains a reason to sell, what do you feel about it?
Marketing cannot sell on its own. What sells is the quality of the product. If you have a poor product, no amount of marketing can sell it.
Q) How has been your stint with Outlook till date?
Wonderful! I am professionally very happy.
Q) The old newsmagazine formula no longer works in this multimedia age, what all strategies are being implemented by Outlook to match the modern times need?
We have to reinvent ourselves. Create a new formula which goes beyond news, analysis and commentary. The old formula is irrelevant today.
Q) Outlook has made a large space for itself in urban India, any plans of expansion?
No plans for expansion just yet. The print industry is going through a difficult time due to the recession.
Q) You’ve edited Debonair at the time when Indian society was too conservative and today when the minds are opening; can magazine like Debonair survive in India with good content?
Magazines like Debonair are past their sell-by date. There is no place for a Debonair even with ‘good’ content in India.
Q) Will the entry of foreign publications in India be able to bring any major change in terms of content?
Entry of foreign publications has not made much difference. Presently all the big brands are indigenous.
Although print will stay on for a few more years in India, the web will expand its base with 3g. The challenge for most media companies today is monetization of web properties. The regular Advertising model is not going to work any longer. Media companies will have to partner with advertisers, push contextual content and advertisement to its readers and change to marketing companies. If they dont, the fate of Indian Newspaper and Magazine Industry will be the same as the West.