I haven’t seen DNA yet. I will sometime, but the reviews I’ve read sound disappointed. But folks, what did you expect?
I am not asking the question sarcastically or rhetorically. I really want to know, because I am curious about whether at all it is possible to judge a newspaper by a few issues. Also, it seems to me that the very fact that a new newspaper will be judged by its first few issues will give the newspaper the wrong incentives.
It is easy to lambast The Slimes. Frankly, it is too easy and it has become so common that I fear that it is turning into an artform. But matters haven’t come to such a pass at the Slimes by accident. I have a suspicion that this is the doing of some management consultants. I am sure there is a 200-page report somewhere submitted by these guys which advises the CEO that the newspaper needs a makeover that will give it a hep image among today’s youth. I haven’t yet met the youth who actually got impressed by the resulting transformation (If I did, I’d beat him up within an inch of his life. ). Most youths I meet think that the newspaper is now a joke. But the message hasn’t got across to the newspaper in the only way they will understand. They are seeing rising sales and confusing correlation with causation.
But how would you compete with The Slimes? It is easy to be “Not-Times”. But such a newspaper would also be boring. More importantly, it wouldn’t have a distinct identity. Marketing guys tend to mislead you into thinking that you can create a brand identity through advertising, but that is true only for soft drinks and the like. For newspapers, you need to actually build the product first. That takes time. I’d launch the newspaper slowly and not start any serious advertising for atleast a year.