TECH TALK: Rethinking Newspapers: The Daily Me-al

My mornings have been the same since I can remember when it comes to reading newspapers I just need to have one to read. The days when there isnt one (like January 27 recently because of the previous day being a holiday Indias Republic Day) feel quite odd. For the past few years, the newspapers I get at home get read at the breakfast table. Earlier, it used to be just three Indian Express, Economic Times and Financial Express. Now, there are a lot more. Along with these three, we get Times of India, Hindustan Times, DNA, Free Press Journal, Business Line and Business Standard. Since my breakfast time hasnt gotten any longer, the time with each newspaper has gotten shorter!

To top it all, in the evening, we get 5 more newspapers Mid-Day and Afternoon (the two Mumbai eveningers), along with the Financial Times, Asian Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune. So, that makes it 15 newspapers daily.

Ive enjoyed reading newspapers ever since I can remember. When I was very young, I used to go to the sports pages and pour over the cricket-related news. (Those were the days when the Internet still hadnt made an appearance in our lives.) During my college days, Id read the papers and also cut out interesting stories and file them a habit I acquired from my father. During my IIT days, there was a mad scramble every morning to get to the Times of India and cut out the crossword to solve during lectures.

In the US, while at Columbia University, I fell in love with the New York Times. Id scan the first section for their occasional India story. Then, get to the Business section. I also enjoyed reading the Science Times and Circuits. Id stay up a little late on Saturdays to get the Sunday Times. I also realised (a little late in my stay) that I could get the Times of India at the university library (in the School of International Affairs). Then, slowly, the Wall Street Journal became a daily read as I entered the world of business. I especially liked the Page One in-depth stories.

After returning to India and starting my own business, I got little time to spend with the papers. But after I started IndiaWorld in 1994, the love affair continued. Id read the papers each morning and then update the Headlines on the website and create a digest to send to people via email. For a long time, the Times and the Indian Express were the only two mainstream papers available in Mumbai, along with their financial dailies (Economic Times and Financial Express). In the past year, as the media scene in India has exploded, so have the reading options.

Of the national newspapers, the Indian Express remains my favourite. Among the business dailies, the Business Standard is better (but thats not saying much). In the triad of international papers, the Financial Times is what I like more. My reading habits have changed with the times. The newspapers, though, havent changed much. All of them have websites, but I rarely visit the Indian newspapers online.

And so it was that one day recently, I came across an article by Jeff Jarvis which made me think about newspapers and their future.

Tomorrow: Jeff Jarvis Comments

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.