Keep yourself informed in India: newspapers are good & extremely cheap

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We arrived in India over two years ago, in November 2016. During our first two weeks in India, we called the JW Marriott our ‘home’. It was fun and very convenient to start our journey in a luxurious 5-star hotel, but we didn’t hesitate to move out soon. Our next stay was at an Indian filmmaker’s house in Abhimanshree Society, near Aundh. We became very good friends and still see each other occasionally. Although we knew the country fairly well before we arrived here, it still felt very weird being here. I can recall many evening walks in the city when my wife and I looked at each other, almost saying this aloud: ‘This is weird, we actually LIVE here’. Starting up with a daily ritual of going to work, things normalized very fast. We moved into a house, furnished the kitchen and started to take care of the cats within in the area. 

I have a bad habit of reading the news headlines first thing in the morning. Has Trump tweeted something weird last night? Any major news from my hometown? Has India slept well? I want to know it all! Having chosen to become a journalist would have been a very cool profession for me, I hadn’t chosen to work in the corporate world. I admire their work. They’re not rock ‘n roll stars, but in my opinion they fulfill a valuable task to society: they’re responsible in ‘controlling the powers of the country’.

Having stopped my newspaper subscription in the Netherlands, I had to start all over again in finding reliable sources for delivery of news. I could have taken a digital-only subscription of my familiar Dutch newspaper, but I choose not to do that. It felt too expat‘ish’ to want continue to read Dutch news. I started to readi the headlines in the paper that was brought to my room at the JW Marriot and continued with this during our stay at the filmmaker’s house. During our first 6-8 weeks I got the change of reading a lot of newspapers: The Times of India was the primary newspaper at the JW Marriott.Kranti Kanade, the Indian Filmmaker, had a whole variety of newspapers. During our stay with him, I got the opportunity to read the Indian Express and The Hindu.

Reading old-fashioned newspapers could feel everything but modern, but the opposite is true: Newspapers in India are everywhere. One could observe newspaper outlets at every corner in the city, with a very wide variety of papers. With as many as 1.3 billion people, India is one of the largest newspaper markets in the world. According to 2013 statistics, more than 100 million papers are being sold on a daily basis. Most of these papers are written in Hindi or one of the many other local languages within in the country. Luckily, English is an official language in many parts of India, and a lot of papers are published in this language. In fact, The Times of India, one of the leading English newspapers, has the largest circulation of any English-language newspaper in the world. The Mumbai based newspaper with over 11.000 employees sells over 3.3 million newspapers daily! The interesting fact about the Times of India is their mainly focus on local news. Almost every tier-1 city or state has its own local edition, with sad and funny news on the front-page. You can find the latest news on local bribes, burglaries & bus accidents in your local edition of the Times of India.

Another pick is The Hindu, a Chennai-based newspaper with a circulation of roughly 1.2 million copies daily. In contrast to the Times of India, this paper mainly focuses on national topics in their news-coverage. Being independent since it was established in 1889, The Hindu has a more serious approach towards news. Unless it affects politics or the public domain, you won’t find a lot of gossip-news in this paper, which – for some people – makes it a bit tedious. I’m a big fan of the ‘slow journalism’ movement, with long in-depth articles about enterprising subjects. The Hindu definitely spends money on real-quality journalism and I’m a fan of this paper.

The Hindustan Times is a newspaper that is in between the Times of India and The Hindu. It has a huge circulation, but is not as big as the Times. The approach of the paper feels very moderate: the graphic design of the newspaper is more open and ‘accessible’ than the traditional look and feel of The Hindu & Times of India.

Reading newspapers here is relatively cheap. My regular paper in the Netherlands would now cost around 2 euros. In India, newspapers are being sold between 4-12 rupees a piece (6 and 16 eurocent!). Although a lot of newspapers are sold on the streets in India, it is possible to get a subscription. It doesn’t work as opting in for a subscription back home. Here you need to find the number of the local delivery vendor and he or she will deliver the required newspaper to your home. It’s very simple, no agreements and no upfront payments. I’ve chosen for a combination of serious and easy to read news. For some time, the combination of the Times of India, The Mirror and The Hindu were delivered to my house. After getting all the papers for some time I realized that it was impossible to find the time to read all of them. I only went through the headlines and didn’t even open some of the newspapers for days. A lot of unread papers ended up with the old newspapers. Having the most mixed feelings about the Hindu, I’ve eventually chosen to continue with the Times of India and stop the subscription of the Mirror and the Hindu.

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