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Mid-Day, Mumbai Mirror in boxing ring

Mumbai Mirror takes a swing at Mid-Day, gets a bloodied nose.




July 1, 2005 
Update: July 1's TOI had an item on the front page called 'Maha Newspaper'. Essentially, the Mumbai Mirror will be distributed for free with the Times of India starting today.

The story mentions that Mumbai Mirror has seen an overwhelming response, and therefore copies are not available. Printing constraints are also mentioned.

How does this tally with a max print run of 1,50,000? If the earlier claim of overtaking Mid-Day is right, this would mean taking Mumbai Mirror off newsstands and giving it away free. Or wasn't the earlier claim accurate? The mystery remains..

The Times of India has earlier promoted its website , Filmfare awards, Miss India contests and its SMS service 8888, through its august editorial pages. So we were not surprised to find a story in its Business Times section on June 28, which promoted its new product Mumbai Mirror, even while taking potshots at Mid-Day, the long-standing tabloid in the Mumbai media space. After all, Times is definitely not the first paper to promote its interests in its edit pages.

Reprisal was swift. Mid-Day sprang at Times like a cat, with a front page top story the very next day, screaming "Lies, Damn Lies". Mid-Day also carried details inside substantiating why Mid-Day is No.1 and why Mumbai Mirror is not. The wizards at Times may have pushed it a bit far this time. 

The Times report in question says: "In less than a month, Mumbai Mirror, India's first quality morning compact newspaper, has notched sales of over 1.5 lakh copies a day.... This makes it the No.1 compact in Mumbai, (Mid-Day, a tabloid, has seen edition-sales drop to 1.24 lakh according to ABC JD 04) and therefore, the unambiguous No.2 mainstream, English newspaper in the city (after The Times of India)

The Times report goes on to claim that demand for Mumbai Mirror has risen so much that it has outpaced supply:

"Reader response to Mumbai Mirror has been so strong that it's caught us by surprise pleasantly, I should add," said a senior executive, "It is rapidly-growing demand that we had not anticipated so soon. We have been receiving reports from customers, exposed to our advertising and publicity, that they're unable to buy the paper from either vendors or newsstands."

Times of India proceeds to quote a Bandra resident who praises Mumbai Mirror and the executive who gushes over the quality of Mumbai Mirror news coverage. You will soon see a dramatic rise in supply, assures the unnamed executive.

Every company is allows itself the luxury of patting itself on the back once in a while, if not all the time, but not everyone gets a stinging reply like Times got. Mid-Day's next-day counterattack shreds the Bennett Coleman hubris.

"The Times of India published yesterday a report claiming Mid-Day has lost circulation, without revealing where it got this information and without naming anybody from inside or outside the media world to support this."

The punches keep coming: The lie (yes, Mid-Day calls the Times report a LIE) was published to promote Mumbai Mirror, which was an "Unqualified flop according to industry sources", says Mid-Day. The claim of 1.5 lakh copies is bogus and unsupported, it says, adding Bennett Coleman is planning to sell it free from July, since there are few buyers.

It doesn't stop there. 

Mid-Day sends out its reporters to talk to vendors (real vendors with faces, names and locations) who swear by Mid-Day. All the vendors interviewed say that Mid-Day sells more than Mumbai Mirror, adding that the initial interest in Mumbai Mirror is dying out. The Mid-Day report also features a newspaper agent who claims that Mumbai Mirror is being sold as 'raddi' (scrap paper) since there are no buyers. Vendors buy the paper for 50 p and sell as 'raddi' for 70p, he says.

Click here complete Times report 

Click here for complete Mid-Day report

No, we are not finished yet. Soon after, Mid-Day filed a petition with the Audit Bureau of Circulation, (ABC) of which both Mid-Day and Times are members. According to an exchange4media report, the Mid-Day complaint says that the Times report has damaged its business interests. 

As per the latest published ABC figures, Mid-Day has a circulation of 1.4 lakh. ABC members are not allowed to publish figures before the official figures are out. Obviously, both newspapers can't be right. Someone is lying here, some newspaper which supposedly disseminates correct information to the literate public. Newspapers use their pages to promote and defend themselves. We advise innocent readers to keep their eyes open. When newspapers write about their own glory, think of it more of an entertainment piece. Crosswords are equally entertaining.


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