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Hindustan Times goes in for a revamp

By Dhaleta Surender Kumar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 13, 2009
English daily Hindustan Times has metamorphosed into a younger newspaper, with all new design and content presentation

English daily Hindustan Times (HT) has, gone in for a revamp, since Saturday, which includes new content presentation, with better navigation and a new design that is more appealing to the youth.

The change has been incorporated keeping in mind the news consumption habits of the youth and the ever-growing faster media platforms such as the Internet and television. According to Sanjoy Narayan, editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times, "Relationship and the people's approach to consumption of news has changed.

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"They get news faster from television, Internet, mobile phones (through SMS alerts), social media networks and newsletters. The reader wakes up in the morning not to know 'what' but 'why'. While we deal with this 'why', it has lead to the overall restaging of the product."

The redesigning was done by Mario Garcia of Garcia Media, who has been associated with HT for its earlier redesign, too.

To start with, the masthead has gone for a change, from all-black to the dual colours black and blue, using a new font called Vonness, giving it a wider look. Similarly, the body copy font, too, has changed from Nimrod to Benton. The new font, according to Anup Gupta, design chief, Hindustan Times, allows 18 per cent more content space on a page, as compared to the previous font. "This space can be used not only for content but to give the page an uncluttered look," he says.

Gupta has been responsible for carrying out the changes suggested by Garcia and striking a balance to fit the demands of the new layout.

Some headlines have a 'hook', that is, some keywords are highlighted in a different colour. "There's a tendency to scan the headlines first before delving into the story. These hooks allow people not only to remember the keywords and come back to the story later, but to find them easily, too," Gupta adds.

The new design, according to Narayan, has been done keeping in mind both the surface news scanners and people who would like to go in-depth. This, he says, is an evolving process, where journalists will be trained to present stories in a format that will both inform and educate the reader. "Hence, there will be special features and new sections in the daily," he adds.

'Rush' is one such section that will cover outdoor sports every Saturday and Sunday, from running and kayaking to trail running and skating.

The Saturday daily will also have a section called Do, which will act as a guide for the weekend - from what to read, watch and drive to where to dine.

On Sunday, the new offering, Think, will have in-depth stories and reflect upon the week gone by.

The city supplements will not only carry local problems henceforth, but celebrate local achievers, too. Starting today, Hindustan Times will start two series - Inspired India and Delhi First - for a month. For Inspired India, an HT Ideas Council has been set up, where a panel of experts and opinion leaders will put forth their ideas to bring about a positive change.

Delhi First will involve citizens to not only highlight their neighbourhood problems but suggest solutions and be an active part of that change.

According to Neelanjan Shome, chief marketing officer, Hindustan Times, "The change is lead by content, supported by design."

This, he says, has also given way to the daily's new positioning statement: Hindustan Times helps you move forward by delivering real understanding.

According to Shome, a large mass of readers in the 20-29 age group has been moving away from the newspaper category to other media platforms. "In the past five years, the contribution of this age group to all English dailies has declined from 31 per cent to 27 per cent. At the same time, time spent on a newspaper on a weekday has come down from about 20 minutes to 14 minutes. The change tries to make it more relevant for the group and also provide engagement to increase the time-spent on a newspaper," he says.

Before carrying out the changes, Hindustan Times carried out a 'quantitative product test' in Delhi and Mumbai, where more than 1,000 SEC AB (both males and females in the age group of 20-45 years) were quizzed on their preferences and the intended changes.

"The prototype was seen to be more attractive, appealing, vibrant, lively, contemporary and youthful," says Shome, adding, "Readers felt that the product was equipped with more relevant content and had greater interactivity. The presentation of content aided 'news at a glance, ease and expediency of reading and easier and faster comprehension'."

The research was conducted by Synovate India.

Hindustan Times has lined up a multimedia campaign, conceptualised and executed by Lowe, to capture the mind space of the youth and highlight the change. Shome refused to divulge the ad and marketing spend for the campaign. All he is willing to say is that "the campaign has an attitude and resonates with the youth of today."