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Times Of India - The Daily Do Do

Times Of India - The Daily Do Do

August 07, 2012

The story of a newspaper relic that tries too hard to remain relevant.



A historical entity that is the standard-bearer of news, views and public opinion in the country. A newspaper of record that prints everything that is worth printing after ample fact-checking, covering multiple sides of a news story so that no angle is left unrepresented. An editorial that is as fair as it is balanced. A mouthpiece of the citizenry and the citizenry alone, without any camouflaged political agenda. An independent, self-funded organization unaffected by commercial machinations of its corporate masters. A newspaper held in high regard for the competence, even flamboyance, of its language and style of delivery, so much so that it is recommended for daily reading in schools.

So, now that we are all in agreement that The Times of India is none of the above, let us see how the premier newspaper of India still manages to fit in our daily lives so remarkably.

Bowel Mover. The ten minutes that you spend in the cocoon of what is your private loo, TOI is your silent companion. It passes no judgment as parts of your body hiss and heave trying to do all that nasty business. You divert your attention away from the smells and sounds by holding aloft the newsprint with both hands, looking at the full page ads of your Chief Minister’s remarkable transition of your city from a dusty hamlet into an almost-Switzerland, get to learn that Akshay or Ajay are in your vicinity promoting their new buffoonery of a film, and of the latest antics of the BCCI and the MBPB (Mamata Banerji of Poschim Bongo). The moment the lever on the flush is pushed and the so-called ‘fruits’ of your labour swirl onwards, the 72 pages are tossed aside, and your silent potty-buddy forgotten for another 24 hours.

Colourful Shelf Liner. As Indian homes grow bigger, so do the closets – in kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, study etc. Gone are the days when newspapers were abysmally dull black-and-white, smudgy 8-page leaflets. The glamourous new avatar is colourful and glossy. And that makes ideal shelf liners! Not just great colour and texture, there is also a wide variety of full page pictures to choose from. If you are a health fanatic, pick any of the Review section ads featuring John Abraham or Bipasha Basu, and place all your packs of Horlicks, energy boosters and protein shakes firmly on their 6- and 8-packs. Your kid a maniacal fan of cars? Choose from the full page ads of BMW and Audi to line his nikkar drawers. A big TV serial fan? The ads blitzkrieg of the new Saas-Bahu charmer that is starting next week should do it – remember to tune in every Monday to Friday at 8 pm to find out what is keeping the 2012 Ram and Sita jodi apart. (Hint – it’s that big woman with the big bindi)

No-Smoke-Without-Fire Myth-breaker. ShahRukh hates Cricket Administrators, Aamir hates Doctors, Sonia hates Pranab, Jayalalitha loves Advani, Roger Federer loves T-20, Kalmadi loves sports (and foreign trips), Annu Mallik hates baldies, Amitabh loves Rekha, Vijay Mallya loves paying staff salaries, Aishwarya loves Haagen Dazs, Jackie Shroff is Gay, Karan Johar hates Coffee, Ekta Kapoor hates TV audiences, Shirish Kunder embodies remarkable talent, Akhilesh Yadav idolizes Rahul Gandhi, and so on and so forth. If you can imagine it, just print it. But do end the news story with – “Our reporter was not able to contact them for their comment” – to cover your legal ass. If the new name for news is entertainment, entertainment, entertainment, what could be better than to make incredible smoke without any credible fire? After all, people love magic, especially if it is also sleazy!

Rekindler of Old Conventions. Some Indian traditions must endure the passage of time – really, what would India be without them? One of them is the eternal Kabadiwala. This man, with his unique and idiosyncratic “outside” voice, has been visiting Indian homes every month for decades, haggling with our mothers and grandmothers on weight and count, and in the end, thrusting crisp Gandhijis into their welcoming palms. The gleam in the eyes of the lady of the house on receiving this unexpected bounty has hardly ever found a comparable parallel. TOI, with its ever expanding girth, has kept this glorious custom alive and well – its benevolent contribution to modern India.

The Birds and The Bees Discussion Fast Forwarder. Why must 6- and 8- year olds not question you about Sunny Leone’s ample bosom, or Tushhar’s ample butt, or for that matter, even bullet-riddled corpses of Maoists or burning Tibetan monks in the street of Delhi? Clearly, such items are best displayed in all their pictoral glory on the front page of the main newspaper or the lifestyle sections. This is how TOI assists the ever-fatigued parents in their children’s upbringing – by rushing it up. Exit dreary conventions of self-censorship or decorum, enter the modern Newspaper.

Bringer of Page Three to Thee. What is Life if it isn’t about chasing dreams? Of rubbing shoulders with Queenie Singh at the latest exclusive Rain Dance party. Or a Masquerade Ball featuring Feroze Gujral. Or dipping in a 5-star pool with Liz, Stan and Diane – not sure who they are but they must be some well-placed foreigners one must be seen with. The sheen of a Delhi celebrity may pale brilliantly in front of an authentic one from Mumbai, but hey, the size of his/her head is no smaller. So, till you have acquired one of your own - a large head, I mean – read the TOI diligently and practice how you will carry it to the next event you can organize ‘passes’ or invitations for. (Pass – noun – A free entry to a fashion, sport, musical, sporting, or really any event that every Delhiite must learn to hustle if he/she is to be deemed of any significance. Your hierarchy in society is directly proportional to the largeness of the event that you attend without spending a dime)

The list is obviously longer, and I shall keep updating it as we establish newer and cooler ways of using TOI and other similar entities in our modern paradigm.

And now I need a bathroom break. Where the hell is that newspaper?

Photo credit: the-tiki-hut.com 

26 Comments

  • R
    By
    R
    16.03.13 04:39 AM
    Great article and it really mirrors my thoughts, listing a few of my website frustrations here:
    1) I have stopped going to Indiatimes totally, because it indeed is useless for people like us, who want real news, and I’m not saying I’m not in love with bollywood head over heels either, but “Sherlyn Chopras nude act in a film” sounds so disgusting as a headline. I only go to times of india (dot) com for major headlines and a small dose of bollywood on the side (literally).
    2) Those ads – I’m not a fan of writing OMG, but OMG!!! The ads are SO frustrating, why can’t they have a cleaner, more efficient website like CNN, or even NDTV for that matter. Everytime you enter, there is a huge dabang style ad for xoom (dot) com these days and its SO annoying, same goes with all articles which have tagged words. Even if you scroll over one by mistake, the ad hovers over the entire paragraph and you just want to kill someone at that time when you’re so engrossed in the news and want to know what happens next.
    Conclusion: Never ever go to indiatimes like we used to, it resides in suckville now, and your only hope from the Times group is timesofindia (dot) com, which is marred by bad web design and a plethora of useless ads and links to other useless websites. Try NDTV instead, I’m a fan of NDTV website, of course i visit TOI almost everyday, but just to look over the headlines to see if they covered something that NDTV didn’t. Hope my two cents help curb your frustration a little, we are all in the same boat
  • Sanka
    By
    Sanka
    24.08.12 12:29 AM
    You could add that all the cricket related news appearing in TOI is definitely paid news! Every cricket news looks like they are 1000 times hyped.
  • Raj
    By
    Raj
    24.08.12 12:20 AM
    Great and true to the point.
  • Rickie Khosla
    By
    Rickie Khosla
    09.08.12 12:05 PM
    Thanks, everyone, for reading and writing your feedback!
    To be fair, even though this essay talks of TOI, you could substitute most newspaper names with that. At least that is my opinion. Anyhow, when newspaper readership is declining the world over, it seems to be thriving in India so, I guess, most dailies here have figured out which buttons to press as far as enticing readers is concerned.

    (Oh, and Lekha, this was all in jest, obviously. I love TOI! If you still know people there and can get me writing assignments, let me know! :P)
  • Bharat
    By
    Bharat
    09.08.12 01:56 AM
    Journalists r victims of paid news!

    A corporate that professes to manage a profession should adopt the code of that profession, whether it is media or medicine.
  • Lekha
    By
    Lekha
    09.08.12 12:37 AM
    Hey Rickie
    I am an ex TOI journo and it pains me to see you deride my ex newspaper thus! But ha! I, more than anything else, know the way it functions. I remember joining it as an intern over 10 years ago and the first lessons I got during my orientation - 'our newspaper is a product, like soap. You need to sell it with your editorials'. That was my reality check of the real world of journalism!
  • sabyasachi patra
    By
    sabyasachi patra
    08.08.12 06:03 PM
    Newspapers do touch (literally) our lives in lot of ways :). Nice mix of humor and facts.
  • Venkatraman
    By
    Venkatraman
    08.08.12 09:31 AM
    Bharat:
    I know about this technology platform and so many others..but it is not relevant unless there is mass adoption.

    When my old school principals relatives start posting obituary ads on Craiglist ( or similar ) I will drop TOI like a bomb.

    Venkat
  • Bharat
    By
    Bharat
    08.08.12 09:26 AM
    @Venkatraman : Craiglist
  • Venkatraman
    By
    Venkatraman
    08.08.12 08:47 AM
    Subra..you are so right. The most compelling value for TOI is an morbid one. If someone gets a way to aggregate all the classifieds onto a web platform, then I too will stop the newspaper
  • subra
    By
    subra
    07.08.12 11:01 PM
    if u do write more about the ol lady of Bori Bunder...u must write about the Obituary column which is the ONLY reason why my parents buy this rag :-)
  • Venkatraman
    By
    Venkatraman
    07.08.12 10:06 PM
    Brilliant post. Are you aware of the legal issues that was faced by another blogger about a couple of years back? Just thought you should know.

    As my father used to say...it is a daily souvenir.. full of advts and very little by way of content
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    07.08.12 08:34 PM
    Times of India reports shooting Aishwarya?

    This shooting comes almost a year after she shot when she was six months pregnant.

    It was also a nostalgic moment when she shot ace cameraman Kiran Deohans for the TV commercial, incidentally when she came back to shoot after her engagement and her marriage it was Kiran who shot her and now again after the birth of her daughter Aaradhya.

    Aishwarya was also shooting again Allan Amin with whom she has shot extensively and who playfully, because of the ease and comfort that she has once put on a harness for any shooting.

    Really confusing TOI news who is shooting and who was shot?

    Shrikumar Shot Aishwarya and he said it the first time he ever shot her. There was underwater shooting a few times as well. That was his most memorable experience shooting her underwater said Shrikumar a photographer who shot Aishwarya.

    German: Wir von TOI bedauern die Schreibfehler, Bitte lesen sie die Korrektur wie verfolgt.

    English : We from TOI regret the serious typing error, please read correction as follows.

    Shrikumar, who shot the commercial said, "This is the first time that I am shooting an ad with Aishwarya. What impressed me about her was her passion for detailing. There were a few under water shots as well. For me, it has been the most memorable experience shooting with her".
  • Ujwal Jha
    By
    Ujwal Jha
    07.08.12 08:13 PM
    Loved it. You got a good tone. Good man. Keep it up.
  • Biju
    By
    Biju
    07.08.12 07:42 PM
    Rickie, you forgot the Divine Sign that gives you an advance warning of all the things above, the prefix TOI :). Spot on.
  • Rickie Khosla
    By
    Rickie Khosla
    07.08.12 07:01 PM
    Thanks, Sunil and Sudhagee, for reading.
    Sunil, best to stay away from newspapers that block any kind of flow...of information or any other thing!
  • Sudhagee
    By
    Sudhagee
    07.08.12 06:30 PM
    The Times of India is like a bad habit that refuses to go away !
  • Sunil Deepak
    By
    Sunil Deepak
    07.08.12 05:27 PM
    If the news gets your intestines going - the way you write about it, they seem to be going super-fast, why complain guy? I know some papers that give you constipation! :)
  • Rickie Khosla
    By
    Rickie Khosla
    07.08.12 01:27 PM
    Thanks, Amarendra and StyleDestino, for reading!

    Rajpriya, hello again! But what a bummer...without the print edition, you don't know what you are missing!

    Bharat, classic stats! :D
  • StyleDestino
    By
    StyleDestino
    07.08.12 12:02 PM
    haha good read... love the love hate part!!!
  • Amarendra Bandla
    By
    Amarendra Bandla
    07.08.12 11:24 AM
    Superb article. For past many months, I buy newspapers either to clean my vehicle or to relay the papers in cupboards. Our media has become total worthless and only thing they are good at is showing half news photos and spreading'FUD'.
  • Bharat
    By
    Bharat
    07.08.12 10:51 AM
    @Khosla, your objections are irrelevant!

    TOI@Twitter: 4.34 lakh followers

    & in a democracy - majority rules.

    Minority read news directly from journalists tweets on Twitter!
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    07.08.12 10:45 AM
    Read the last paragraph first is what I do with your articles. I can never get my hands on a 72-paged TOI living so far away.

    However the online version of today I can see Anushka’s bra through the see through top (Blind are those who refuse to see?), Sunny Leone confessing that she is not ashamed of her past, The things that make women feel guilty and of course the Unseen pics: Hot and sexy Bahu’s at the first glance.

    The pop ups keep me irritated all the time but thank God! TOI is not popping up news on Indian women trying to have the Perfect Vagina (Daily Mail UK) and when it does will it go viral in India? I could safely bet Sunny Leone would acquire the first and go nicker-less to show it off.

    Are you sure it was not the TOI that was providing all the bad smell and the war sounds when the Bowel Mover was in action? You have enough points to take the TOI serious.
  • Rickie Khosla
    By
    Rickie Khosla
    07.08.12 09:58 AM
    Thanks for reading!

    Bharat, sad state of affairs. We got a whiff of this a couple of years ago when eminent journalists (like Barkha Dutt) were found to be entangled in the Radia Tapes controversy. I don't think it affected their popularity or presence. Can't say much about their credibility, though, I must say, they are all still out there doing their thing like nothing happened! We forget too easily in India.

    Shivani, yes, those age-old uses! Isn't it great that TOI is still relevant in 2012? :)
  • Bharat
    By
    Bharat
    07.08.12 08:16 AM
    Paid media - An existential threat to India.

    And 'you know who' introduced it in this country!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-25/-paid-news-is-rotting-india-s-democracy-choudhury.html
  • Shivani Tripathi
    By
    Shivani Tripathi
    07.08.12 08:13 AM
    What about 'Holder of bhel and mumphali'? Or 'Wrapper of goods/gifts that may break during travel'?

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