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Interview with Raju Narisetti, Mint

Sun, 2007-03-04 00:00 — WAN-IFRA

Article ID:
3502

Raju Narisetti, 40, is the editor of Mint, a financial daily meant “to serve readers in India who are interested and active in business and finance.”

It is published in Delhi and Bombay by HT Media, which already publishes two leading daily newspapers from New Delhi – Hindustan Times (in English) and Hindustan (in Hindi).

HT Media has teamed up with Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, to develop Mint and its companion website.

Narisetti was previously deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and editor of its Europe edition.

During his 13 years with this newspaper, he helped re-design several European and Asian editions.

Before joining WSJ, Narisetti was a business writer for the Dayton Daily News, Ohio. He started his journalism career in India with The Economic Times as a business writer in 1989.

Here, he discusses the goals and business strategy of Mint, as well as its editorial, distribution and advertising operations.

newspaper techniques: What were the main factors that led to the decision to start this new paper, and when did you begin planning it?

Raju Narisetti: With India's economy expanding rapidly, there is a need for a paper that will chronicle the Indian financial and business saga impartially and with a strong rigor.

At the same time there is a growing appetite to understand India's place in the world and connect the dots between India and the global economy and vice versa.

Mint was born out of that reader need and is an attempt to offer a very distinct, clear choice to Indian readers. HT has been considering entering this market for a while but serious planning began in July-August of 2006.

I am very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead at HT Media.

nt: Could you explain the basic business model / formula you used when deciding to launch it?

R. Narisetti: It is a subscriber model.

We signed up 55,000 subscribers for the first year in Delhi/Mumbai (which makes us the second largest business paper in both those markets today) but since the Indian newspaper market is driven by advertising rather than cover price, the paper is extremely competitively priced at parity with the market leader.

The paper also leverages HT Media's existing infrastructure and uses internal innovation to offer a unique Berliner format for the first time in India.

This new venture will aim to meet the growing demand for accurate and insightful business journalism – both in terms of covering Indian business, as well connecting the dots between India and the rest of the businessworld.

nt: What is your target readership group?

R. Narisetti: Well-educated and urban men and women who have an interest in business, economics and the intersection of business and economics.

nt: What is your approach to advertisers?

R. Narisetti: Mint offers a strongly differentiated product that cuts through the clutter of information and is a must-read on a daily basis to its readers. It offers unique long-term features.

nt: How is the newspaper being distributed?

R. Narisetti: At homes and offices in the morning and through retail outlets and high-traffic points such as airports/hotels.

nt: What are the goals for the publication for its first year?

R. Narisetti: To consolidate our strong number 2 position in both cities and continue growing.

nt: What is the size of the editorial staff? Have they been newly hired specifically for this publication or are / were they already working for your other publications? Is the accent of recruitment on youth, or is it a blend of youth and experience?

R. Narisetti: We have the smallest newsroom of any national business paper in India.

It is a blend of young and mid-level experienced reporters with a strong team of editors. Many have come from other magazines and newspapers.

We have a young reporting staff – smart, eager and keen to prove themselves, guided by veteran editors.

nt: Where / how is Mint being produced? Where are the editorial offices, and is the newspaper being published with equipment that was already owned by the publishers, or did they need to buy some things specifically for this new publication?

R. Narisetti: Printed in Delhi and Mumbai and produced out of Delhi. Editorial offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Pune and access to Hindustan Times reporters elsewhere. We use HT's existing presses.

nt: What is the average number of pages per edition?

R. Narisetti: 24 on TuesdayFriday and 32 on Monday and Saturday

nt: Do you have a formula for content – geographic spread, subject etc?

R. Narisetti: No formula other than a strong mix of analytical news, distinct opinions and strong business of life courage

We will concentrate our reporting efforts on the broad world of Indian business and, through select WSJ content, relevant international business and trends; on political and social forces at the intersection of Indian business and politics.

Through such understanding, we hope to help our readers find new business and investment opportunities, avoid costly mistakes and make wiser, informed decisions.

We will not dilute our usefulness by attempting to be all things to all people, or be a general newspaper. Nor will our focus be narrowly stock markets oriented: While the numbers are growing, less than 3 percent of all Indians own shares.

nt: How does the collaboration with The Wall Street Journal work? Is there exchange of personnel?

R. Narisetti: No. We have access to all their global content to pick and choose what we think is relevant for Indian readers.

nt: How has the response to Mint been?

R. Narisetti: Very positive given how radically different the paper is from all the existing offerings.

We are not trying to be all things to all people and it will take a few weeks and months for readers to become comfortable with the offering.

nt: How would you describe Mint as different from other financial/business journals?

R. Narisetti: The paper is not about quantity but about clarity in what we offer our readers.

Mint is not only attractive to look at, but also convenient to carry and to read. News and analysis are being delivered in a more tightly organised package.

Combined with our website, we see it as a powerful tool for business readers.

You’ll find many things about Mint different from other morning business newspapers. You will see a blend of in-depth journalism and shorter news articles; enhanced navigational tools; increased colour, and a new typeface that is designed for easier reading.

We aim to fill three needs:

> The need for authoritative, credible and timely news and analysis affecting business and finance

> The need to save your time, through careful selection of essentials, to spare you from wading through torrents of unevaluated words each day.

> And, critically, the need for trustworthiness. We believe that the only information that is useful is information that is accurate and unbiased.

nt: Can you provide some specifics about content, the kind of articles you are carrying in Mint?

R. Narisetti: We stand for the power of free markets and will present clear ideas to transform India and free its people from the chains of poverty and ignorance.

Our first issue carried the first of a year-long series of essays on The Indian Century. This first essay was by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

We have a very strong Code of Journalistic Conduct in place that will be our moral compass. And we will earn the public tru

st by practising honest journalism.

nt: Would you like to describe your editorials and opinion articles?

R. Narisetti: The editorial pages of this newspaper will have three central themes: free people, free economies and free societies. Each is important in itself.

We will stand up in defence of every move that increases the freedom of Indians to think, express, invent, work, trade and invest. We will oppose every move that tries to bring unreasonable restrictions on these essential freedoms.

Our commentary will look at the world through the prism of freedom. Besides daily editorials giving the house view on the hot topics of the day, our roster of weekly columnists will write on public policy, financial markets, economics and life.

We will also seek outside experts to write for us, even those who do not agree with the core propositions of these pages. The attempt will be to engage in informed debate.

This interview was conducted by newspaper techniques correspondent S. R. Madhu.

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