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TV continues to be the most potent medium for impactful journalism: Nikunj Garg

Mirror Now’s Editor Nikunj Garg shares his strategy as he plans to expand the audience base to deeper markets

Nikunj Garg

After five years of its launch, Times Network’s urban-focused English news channel Mirror Now recently revamped its visual identity and unveiled a new content line-up. While the channel will continue covering local issues that impact our daily lives, it will now be covered from a more national perspective.

Nikunj Garg, Editor, Mirror Now, said, “Mirror Now is most certainly moving away from hyper-local and local news coverage and will now take local issues from a national perspective. The prism of news coverage will be national now. For example, the channel will continue to cover news around Bangalore potholes and the Rajasthan power crisis, but from the national prism and i.e potholes and power crisis across the nation.”

The channel was launched in March 2017 in an attempt to cover subjects like crime, women’s safety, traffic woes and civic issues such as cleanliness, health, environment, power, water etc., to make India a better place to live.

Further explaining the philosophy of the channel, Garg said, “Mirror Now will be a thinking Indian’s destination on television. If people, who think for themselves and don’t get influenced by others’ opinions, want to watch TV news, they will come to Mirror Now.”

Mirror Now has strengthened its primetime with five shows

Mirror Now has introduced a new content line-up with five primetime shows. Mirror Metro at 6 pm offers a national perspective to top news from metro cities; The Big Focus at 7 pm brings to focus the bigger picture by presenting context and comprehensive perspective to top stories of the day; The Urban Debate at 8 pm, Mirror Now’s flagship show that demands accountability from powers that can drive improvement for citizens; The Nation Tonight at 9 pm, a one-hour show that declutters the daily news to present top stories of the day, with insights from experts and Beyond The Headline at 10 pm, presented in an explainer format showcases an in-depth analysis of the big stories of each day.

Talking about how the content strategy would change from the current style, Garg said, “Now, the channel will become more audacious and cover the news on a national spectrum. It will now take up national issues with the same amount of rigour and commitment.”

While the channel has introduced a whole new content line-up, it has also cut down the prime time debate by an hour, which is generally the most-watched show across news channels. Throwing light on the changes in content strategy, Garg said, “I fundamentally believe that debates and discussions should be limited content. News and information should take primacy above views. It’s not that Mirror Now won’t have discussions, but news and information would supersede it. To discuss relevant issues, one hour is enough time. Mirror Now will give more content to people and let them think and form opinions themselves.”

The channel also announced the names of its five new anchors Heena Gambhir, Tamanna Inamdar, Afrida Rahman Ali, Griha Atul and Archana Solanki. When asked if the channel purposely onboarded females as lead anchors, Garg denied it and said, “They are all very bright people. It’s imprudent to look at gender.”

Now that Mirror Now will be covering news from a national angle, how will it differentiate itself from Times Now?

Garg answered, “Times Now talks about national issues. Mirror Now will cover news from the prism of people on national issues. For example, Times Now might report about Kashmir terrorism. Mirror Now will talk about Kashmir from people’s prism if it’s safe to travel to Kashmir?”

The bolder and audacious new look of the channel

The channel has also overhauled its on-air look with an upgraded colour palette and modernised typography that goes with the dynamism of the content. The channel introduced a new colour ‘teal’ to its visual design to reflect its young and contemporary approach, besides retaining the colours, black, white and red denoting importance, urgency and current news.

Explaining why the channel overhauled the look and feel of the channel along with the change in content line-up, Garg said, “A product cannot be disassociated from the brand’s personality. A lot of thought and ideation has gone behind the look of the channel.” 

Watched mostly by people in the age group of 22-44 years, Mirror Now’s strong markets have been Bangalore, Delhi and Goa and other metros. “Going forward I would want to expand the audience base to deeper markets,” he said.

The channel is also planning to strengthen its younger audience base and hence has increased focus on its social media strategy as well.

Garg is also the Head of Input and News Gathering of Times Network’s news channels. Hence, he told that because Mirror Now will be covering issues at a national level now, the channel will be utilising all resources from Times Network across the length and breadth of the country. “The management has always been kind enough to make us available with all the necessary resources. It will only be the lack of commitment and imagination if we don’t deliver.”

Mirror Now was launched on the erstwhile Magicbricks Now platform, which gave the new channel a major head start in this highly competitive space with already a good distribution network in place.

On the growth of digital, journalism and TRP related challenges

TRP ratings play a very important role in the business of TV news. But the BARC TRP ratings of news channels were temporarily suspended in October 2020 amid allegations of a Television Rating Point (TRP) scam and finally resumed in March 2022.

Sharing his views on the development and how it will impact the channel’s content strategy, Garg said, “Ratings give a vision. You may love or hate them, but we live in the world of ratings. Ratings are relevant as it challenges the channel to do better, but it doesn’t dictate our channel’s content.”

With the growth of internet penetration and mobile phones, many people have shifted to digital to consume news. So how does a TV news channel tackles this problem? To which, Garg answered, “Times Network has a very strong focus on digital as well. But TV continues to be the most potent medium for impactful journalism for at least the next five years. The impact on digital is very limited. Making a meaningful impact in people’s life is missing in digital to date.”

Garg then went on to speak about how journalism has evolved over time. He said, “Earlier journalism used to be much more personal and there used to be a lot more backslapping. Today, it is much more mechanical, backslapping has gone away. The challenges have increased tremendously. With the growth of social media, a journalist is no more the primary source of news. Today, the assets used to cover news has reduced. One can do journalism by phone.”

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