What a delayed flight told me about newspaper consumption in India

BIAL Airport

Last week I was to head out to Coimbatore on a early 8 am flight from Bangalore. Dense fog and over scheduling of takeoffs meant the flight I was supposed to be on was delayed by 2 hours. That’s a recipe for disaster at Bangalore airport. Its relatively small seating space, fairly crowded food court and non existent power plugs, meant I had to resort to crowd-watching.

The airport (besides hotels I think in India) is probably one of the last places that still offers free newspapers. Tons of them actually. There are about 5 newsstands that offer over 15 dailies, tabloids and financial broadsheets for no price at all. Its a fascinating study in “Say one thing, do another” that’s typical of most of us.

There are 3-4 racks in each stand and each rack displays 5 newspapers – Times of India (TOI), Financial Times, Business Standard, Deccan Herald, DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Deccan Chronicle, Hindu, Hindu Business Line, Mint, Financial Chronicle, Mid-Day, Bangalore Mirror and 2 Kannada dailies were on display at the Bangalore airport last week.

The refined, cultured and educated Indian apparently thinks of TOI as a sensational tabloid at best. At least that’s what the digitarie would have you believe.

The average person picks up 2 newspapers (hey, its free, why not? seemed to be the norm). There were a few that picked up 3 or more, but that’s the “long flight to Delhi, individual.

Older men (over 30+), (who were most of the travelers), invariably took a copy of TOI and Mint, which were the first two that each stand ran out off. DNA and Deccan Chronicle were the next that were finished. Finally Financial Times and Business Standard were no more on the stand, followed by several copies of The Hindu and other newspapers.

Surprisingly many folks who came by the stand after all the copies of TOI ran out, preferred to go and pick up a used copy of the Times than pick up any of the others. Eventually (in about 40 minutes) the whole set of newspapers ran out.

I asked the person that does stock them and he claimed the stand gets refreshed every 1 hour in the morning from 630 am to 930 and relatively less frequently after that.

The Times is the #1 English broadsheet in India & Bangalore, so that’s to be expected, but the Mint and the Hindu surprised me. I expected Financial times to disappear faster than Mint for sure and I also thought the Hindu was fairly popular in the South. Turns out Deccan Chronicle is only popular in Hyderabad and the Hindu in Chennai.

Personally I dont get a physical copy of the newspaper daily and most of my reading is done online with Google news. I have customized it to ignore Politics, Entertainment, Health.

What do you read in the morning daily?

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One thought on “What a delayed flight told me about newspaper consumption in India”

  1. Its Google news for me too. And i have found out that sometimes the news in TOI (international news, that is) is always a day or two late. DNA or Times City is the worse, as far as the latest news is concerned.

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