Samvada plans to go pan India

Samvada plans to go pan India

Started 23 years ago at Noida Sector 15A, the community magazine Samvada has come a long way. Today, it is virtually the only hyper-local magazine with a circulation close to 2 lakh copies every month. “We are a hyper-local magazine with 65 different editions—33 in South Delhi and 32 in Noida. Basically, there is one magazine for one locality—every kitchen gets a copy. Our strategy is to add two colonies/sectors every month. From next month, we are expanding to Gurgaon as well. Very soon we are going to start pan India,” shares Veenod Aggarwal, editor-in-chief of Samvada.

With 160 resident editors and 25 coordinating editors, Samvada focuses on local issues that neighborhood residents care about, but that they don’t get to read about in major dailies. According to Aggarwal, what motivates resident editors for voluntary reporting is, “The product is such that it easily convinces the resident editors. I don’t know most of them on the personal front but they have grown along with the magazine. Residents from various localities come together and share what’s happening in and around their area. Samvada is a platform for the residents to communicate and voice their opinion with one another.”

Samvada’s success lies in empowering the voice of the residents of the community. It plays a major role in the success of these communities. As communities become increasingly large and diverse, residents use Samvada as a medium to integrate into smaller, more homogenous communities. They write what they witness by becoming its contributors.

“When it comes to resolving public issues and problems in a residential community, a magazine like Samvada is much more relevant and result oriented,” feels Aggarwal. Perhaps one of the most attention-grabbing headlines Samvada has ever run was in the year 2010. The headline read—‘Maid caught begging at traffic light with employer’s baby.’ The editor’s office was flooded by journalists and crew from the news media to gather more details on the story. Although Samvada features news related to local politics (local politician visiting a particular locality, and so on), it refrains from publishing any sort of news on national politics.

“People wait anxiously for their copy every month. There are instances where, on a particular month, a reader had misplaced a copy and called us to send him another one so that he could bind all the magazines month-wise without a miss. In fact, this is not an isolated instance. We keep getting calls from our readers, which motivates us even more in discharging our responsibilities for the well being of our readers,” says Aggarwal.

Speaking about challenges that the tabloid has faced, he says, “The main challenge is distribution. We see lack of cooperation from Resident Welfare Association (RWA) executives in some colonies. Some have even asked for bribes to allow distribution inside a colony. But we restrain ourselves from such malpractices and try to explain the executives that we are a magazine registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India, which means that we are as much legitimate to be a part of residents as any other newspaper in the country.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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