NDTV, Mid-Day and Sakal win gold at News Innovation Awards 2010

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | August 30, 2010
Mathrubhumi, The Sentinel, Dilli Aaj Tak, Zee 24 Ghante Chhattisgarh, Hindustan, Malayala Manorama, i next, Aaj Tak and STAR News were some of the other winners at the award show organised by afaqs!

NDTV, Mid-Day and Sakal have struck gold in the first edition of News Innovation Awards 2010 - a first of its kind award initiated by afaqs!. The award recognises some of the path breaking initiatives by television and print industry that aim to help take the news business into the future.

The ceremony was held in New Delhi on August 27.

The first edition of the News Innovation Award recognised initiatives in two categories - Print and Television. To provide equal opportunities to both large and small companies, the entries were judged in sub-categories such as Print Big Dailies, Print Emerging, Television Big Channels and Television Emerging, based on the scale of operation of the players.

The entries were judged by eminent jury members including Pradeep Guha, managing director, Culture Company and consultant, 9X Entertainment; Sam Balsara, chairperson and managing director, Madison World; Srikanth Srinivasamadhavan, head, media services division, South Asia, Unilever; and Nitin Deshmukh, chief executive officer, structured private equity, Kotak Group.

Print Big

The gold in this category was awarded to Mid-Day for being the first mover in using an emerging technology and thus emphasising its relationship with the young urban professional.

The tabloid's target group is the YUMPI (Young Urban Mobile Professionals across India), who are men and women in the core group of 20-39 years, working professionals in SEC A and B who seek a break at work. The idea of the project was thus to engage YUMPIs through QR code technology that allows the readers to read their copy of Mid-Day, as well as view audio-visual linked files to the key stories, on their mobile phones.

The service was launched in February 2010 and Mid-Day was the first newspaper in India to try using this technology. Mid-Day now has daily news features with embedded QR code technology.

& #VIDEO2 & #Nirvan Biswas, head, online, Mid-Day Infomedia, says, "We first heard about the QR code technology being used by a Japanese company. That's when the idea struck - why not bring it here and use it for a non-interactive media like newspaper! We designed the implementation and the application of the QR."

The silver in Print Big category was given to i next for questioning existing norms of language and format to create a unique daily that touches a young generation of small town India.

Alok Sanwal, project head, i next, says, "The entire life at i next is full of innovations. We have defied the basic rules of print. In language dailies - there was no compact sized daily. We introduced one and then we said that the Hindi language itself is probably not the current language. Thus, we came up with a bilingual daily - basically the language which we speak in our day to day life. Even in terms of news prioritisation, we are fairly innovative."

This category had two bronze winners - Hindustan and Malayala Manorama. Hindustan won the recognition for identifying a very specific consumer need and creating a product that satisfies it; and Malayala Manorama won it for using its reach to help save electricity and thus emphasise its leadership in the market.

Print Emerging

& #VIDEO3 & #The gold in the Print Emerging category was awarded to the Marathi daily, Sakal, for creating Agrowon, a unique daily for farmers, taking into account the agro-climatic conditions of the area. Pune based Sakal Media launched Agrowon, whose core audience, apart from farmers, consists of retailers as well as marketers of goods meant for farmers.

Agrowon has eight editions which, unusually, cater to eight different agri-climatic zones. Each zone has a different mix of crops, which also changes the way people live and the kind of information they seek.

Though Agrowon uses the Sakal network for distribution, it is an independently priced daily, currently priced at Rs 2. With a circulation of 54,000 copies, Agrowon has managed to create a bank of advertisers separate from the mainstream, 80 per cent of the revenue coming from core agricultural products.

The silver metal in this category was awarded to The Sentinel for creating an innovative newspaper platform to reach out in a region with a diverse mix of languages and issues.

The bronze for the Print Emerging category went to Mathrubhumi for using its reach to spread the message of environmental protection and thus create a bond with the readers of tomorrow.

Television Big

In TV Big, the gold was secured by NDTV Worldwide for its initiative in creating Yoda, an elegant and innovative software which cuts out the technical complexity in multi-camera shoots and dramatically brings down its cost.

Multi-camera shoots have traditionally involved expensive equipment. After a particularly frustrating multi-camera production failed to go on air on time because of the complicated process, NDTV Worldwide resolved to find a solution that would make life simpler. The Yoda solution has been in use for more than six months and is expected to result in operational savings of about Rs 2.5 crore across the three network channels.

The TV Big silver was also bagged by NDTV for growing Greenathon 2, a memorable programming property and using both a variety of activities and media to give it scale.

The bronze in Television Big was shared by Aaj Tak and STAR News. Aaj Tak received it for using design and 3D animation to go the extra mile and make a regular story interesting and comprehensible to its viewers. STAR News bagged the award for using design and technology to provide a different experience to its viewers.

Television Emerging

There was no gold awarded in this category but the silver metal was awarded to Zee 24 Ghante Chhattisgarh for using consumer insight and promotion to regain market share.

The problem faced by the channel was that the evening band, which was its strongpoint, showed a dip at 11 pm. A qualitative research exercise involving about a thousand respondents was conducted in Raipur, the state capital, and Bilaspur, the seat of the High Court. The research showed that a large percentage of men, especially traders, returned home late and gained access to the remote control only late in the evening.

For this, the channel created Rajdhani-Nyaydhani - focusing on news from the 'Rajdhani', Raipur, and the 'Nyaydhani', Bilaspur. The programme was scheduled for 11 pm.

A week prior to launch, local promotion was activated: this included ads in local dailies, distributing flyers in city parks, contacting respondents, an SMS blast and distributing pamphlets in trains in the region. There was a special focus on lawyers, who form a large segment and are an influential group.

All this resulted in taking the channel to No. 1 in the 11 pm slot and whenever the channel drops lower, a contact programme takes it back to the top slot.

The bronze was bagged by Dilli Aaj Tak for its integrated campaign to increase viewer involvement in the General Elections and thereby draw attention to itself.

The presenting sponsor for News Innovation Awards was Hindustan Times and the awards were powered by i next.

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