Metro Now was launched in 2006 in Delhi when two arch rivals, the Times of India (TOI) and the Hindustan Times (HT), joined hands chastened by decades of rivalry (and the urgency infused by the decision of the India Today group to launch a morning tabloid). It was a 48-pages all colour paper in the beginning; now it is only 32 pages (probably thanks to the competition from Mail Today).
I wrote this (in my poem on Delhi) when the paper was launched:
Two arch-rivals who fought so wild will soon have ‘metro now’ – their love child! From daggers drawn to hand in glove Pigs might fly when push comes to shove!
A few minutes ago I visited the Metro Now website and their blog on wordpress. They still are publishing on their website that the paper is 48 pages! See the snapshot from their home page! 48 pages, huh!
I actually read the paper for some days in 2006-07 and grammatical/spelling mistakes were not very uncommon. This is what happens when you publish not for serious journalism but for capturing a niche market. In this age of Information revolution, it is as easy as ABC to publish things (including a paper) and that is what this paper does.
In the immediate months after its launch, I recall their agony aunt column used to be very filthy (for obvious reasons). Very recently, when the world was awakened by the Mumbai terror attacks, Metro Now was sleeping; If I recall correctly it did not had a word on the attacks on the immediate morning of the attacks (Hindustan Times had also almost missed it and gave the news very little space) which goes to show the little editorial attention/expertise/seriousness/dedicated infrastructure that this paper may be having!
I still subscribe to it because they gave it at throw away prices – 60 Rupees for a year (against a cover price of 540 Rupees)! Now that means that they have serious competition from Mail Today which is a better tabloid by any measure.
The blog of Metro Now is/was not frequently updated (there are few comments, if any, and have not displayed the data on the number of visitors to the blog- something TOI and HT are not used to!). They are writing on their home page that their website is “coming soon”! Yes, it will only be few years behind the launch of the paper!
I once had registered my grievance against the the paper in comments on their blog and also sent many emails to them; they of course never published it or replied to my emails. They had a promotional scheme for the paper along with which came the Reebok bag. My Reebok bag malfunctioned on the first day itself (the chain/zip). I wrote email reminders on four of their email address not once but twice (September and December 2007). They did not send even an acknowledgment let alone replace the bag!
Metro Now and its siblings in other metros will take journalism to new lows. I guess teachers of journalism must be citing Metro Now as a case study in the wretchedness of media.
I still believe they can be very effective as an offbeat paper if they took their eyes away from quick commerce and competition and gave some thought to true journalism (or at least partially true journalism). At one point of time, I was even thinking of joining them when I was looking for employment! Phew!
Update 24 January 2009: Metro Now is facing Closure and is set to become a weekly!
Update 25 January 2009: It is becoming a 16-page weekly to be distributed free with HT and TOI every saturday in Gurgaon! Hello? What’ll happen to the sixty Rupees I paid for a year! Good riddance (to bad rubbish)!
So, you can call me a soothsayer!