Newspapers need to engage with readers: Dainik Jagran Inext’s Alok Sanwal

Dainik Jagran Inext launches five sub editions in UP

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Alok Sanwal, CEO, Dainik Jagran Inext

At a time when newspapers face uncertain times, and many publications across India and the world shut down print editions, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, two media houses in India have gone into an expansion mode, in what can be seen as a whiff of fresh air for the embattled sector.

While Inext, an urban-aspiring and youth-centric bilingual daily broadsheet newspaper from the house of Kanpur-headquartered Dainik Jagran has launched five new sub-editions in Uttar Pradesh, Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi newspaper from the Nagpur-Jabalpur-based Bhaskar Prakashan has set foot in the highly competitive market of Mumbai.

Dainik Jagran Inext‘s five new sub-editions, or satellite editions, have been launched in Chandauli, Jaunpur, Unnao, Kaushambi and Pratapgarh within the master editions of Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh.

Inext’s success journey

In an interaction with the Indian Printer and Publisher, Alok Sanwal, CEO, Dainik Jagran Inext, sounded quite confident while explaining the purpose behind the new editions amid such turbulent times for the print media in general and newspapers in particular. 

Sanwal feels that, unlike metros, print is still evolving in smaller towns and cities as well as in rural India. “Plus, there is the trust factor in print, especially after the pandemic.” Print, he explained, is read comfortably. At the same time, keeping the digital audience in mind, they have adopted a quick-browsing format in terms of layout with a lot of briefs and QR code pointers to the online edition.

newspapers
Dainik Jagran Inext’s five new sub-editions, or satellite editions, have been launched in
Chandauli, Jaunpur, Unnao, Kaushambi and Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh.

Dainik Jagran Inext’s USP is its rich content, which typically engages the audience with pictorial stories, a colloquial language that retains a lot of commonly used English words, citizen journalism, reader feedback and interaction, etc. “Typically, around 500 English words are not translated into Hindi.”

Born 17 years ago in 2006, Dainik Jagran Inext now has 12 main editions and five sub-editions. It caters to what Sanwal described as those who are young at heart in tier 2 and 3 cities, looking for content akin to what leading English dailies provide in the top metros – the B1 plus segment, mostly 18-35 years of age.

Apart from the new sub-editions, there are main editions in Kanpur, Agra, Prayagraj, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Meerut, and Varanasi in UP, Patna in Bihar, Ranchi and Jamshedpur in Jharkhand and Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand. 

“Here we are talking about the district centers, which we call mini-metros, where people look for something more from newspapers. They want content with a world view, aspiration, technology, startup news, wellness, and new opportunities – similar to what the English newspapers offer. So we decided to target this audience and launched 12 editions in four states in three years in tier 2 cities.”

These towns and cities, he explained, have undergone a sea-change in development parameters and their socio-economic scenario over the years. Jaunpur, for example, where they have launched a sub-edition, has a population of 30 lakh in the entire district and 5 lakh in the city. “We now see big brands and luxury car showrooms in these mini-metros.”

Inext is initially looking at a circulation of 10-15,000 per sub-edition at a price point of Rs 3-4 for a 12-14 page newspaper. “This is where we score as we can offer good value at a competitive price. Whereas, bigger newspapers charge Rs 6-8 for 18 pages.”

Dainik Jagran Inext’s (online and offline) share of revenue in the entire group is roughly 6.5%, while only print’s share is 8.5%. Initially, 15% of revenue came from subscriptions and 85 from advertisements, which increased to a 28:72 ratio. “The tilt is coming. Gradually, over time, we hope to move towards 50:50.”

Talking about the recent surge in prices of newsprint, Sanyal said it was kind of a blessing in disguise and helped media houses raise their cover prices. “We got a seed spot in terms of price point. But now newsprint prices are rolling down and the bottom line, which was affected, is being care of.”

The growth of print, he said, is being hindered by print itself. To take on competition from digital and survive in the evolving world of news, newspapers have to constantly innovate, take into confidence advertisers and readers and invest in research.

Dainik Jagran Inext, incidentally, was the only print media house to bag an award at the 12th Global Customer Engagement Awards 2023 – Silver for the Best Use of Celebrity Endorsement.

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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