Samvada plans to go pan India

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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.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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