Mumbai Mirror: From compact to a tabloid?

The need to sensationalise is a fundamental need of a tabloid, but not one for a 'quality' paper. Mumbai Mirror's treatment of a suicide makes it more a tabloid than a serious, respected paper.

Anant Rangaswami June 11, 2012 13:45:30 IST
Mumbai Mirror: From compact to a tabloid?

When Mumbai Mirror first launched, this is what Vineet Jain, managing director, Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited had to say about the paper. “Compact is a tried and tested format internationally. Respected papers like The Independent and now Wall Street Journal have adopted it. In an age when everything is going for a concise size – ranging from laptops to iPods — the same makes sense for today’s newspapers too. You never know, in a matter of time, we might turn the TOI to a compact as well,” exchange4media quoted him as saying.

Vineet Jain and Bhaskar Das were at pains extolling the virtues of the compact in order that Mirror would not be called a ‘tabloid’. Jain clubs the paper with ‘qualities’ such as the The Independent and Wall Street Journal, not with The Sun or News of The World. By inference, the front page would be ‘serious’ and not ‘tabloid-ish’.

Mumbai Mirror From compact to a tabloid

Screengrab from Mumbai Mirror

Today, the Mirror forgot about their formative days — and the compact became a tabloid.

“Lovelorn 20-yr-old jumps off 19th floor,” screams the headline. In a nutshell, here’s the story:

a) a 20 year-old boy is at a party on the 19th floor of a Pedder Road flat belonging to a friend

b) Early on Sunday morning, he ‘jumped out of the kitchen window’

c) The police believe that the boy ‘was depressed because of a recent break-up

d) That evening, the boy has met his ex-girlfriend ‘after seven months’

e) The girl is quoted as saying ‘In November he came to me and said that the relationship wouldn’t work out as we were both from different communities, that our families would not accept anything more than a friendship between us’.

There is no note, if the death was a case of suicide. According to the police, they ‘have registered a case of accidental death for now.’

Going by the Mirror report, the relationship between the two broke up because the boy told the girl that the relationship wouldn’t work out – not because the girl ditched the boy.

Then why is the girl’s photograph splashed across the paper (twice on the front page, hugging the boy, and once in an inside page). Why caption the front page photograph “___ and___ were in a relationship for two years”?

Why name the girl so many times in the article?

Why not focus on the fact that the relationship ended because the boy believed that there was no future in it because of the two came from different communities – which is the only story based on the facts that Mirror itself has reported?

Indeed, the Mirror report says, the girl had asked the boy not to remain aloof. “We kept asking him to join us but he didn’t,” she is quoted as saying.

If the death has been caused by suicide, we have no way of knowing what caused him to commit suicide. The girl seems to have done no wrong and in no way seems to be the one responsible for his depression.

He had a relationship with a girl. He believed that there was no future in the relationship because of the fact the parents would not approve.

That’s not uncommon in India – but that story does not make for a great tabloid front page. A tabloid needs more – and Mirror has supplied it.

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