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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ergo to close print edition

Ergo, a 5 days a week free tabloid in Chennai from THE HINDU Group, has decided to close its print edition from next month. Ergo was being (and is, till this month end) distributed for free across several locations in Chennai city- mainly in IT parks, targeting youngsters and IT professionals.
Ergo Logo Ergo is about 2 years old (if I am not mistaken) and had soon gained acceptance and popularity among its target audience because of its uniqueness. Compared to regular newspapers that run into several pages with hundreds of articles, Ergo stayed focused on short and brief articles and information that was relevant and interesting to its readers. It had everything informative and interesting- cartoons, news, travel, fashion, sports...

I felt little sad on hearing that they are closing the print edition. Reason being, it was because of Ergo I could see my name in print after long gap of few years. Had almost stopped writing for newspapers but with Ergo, I had a very high success rate- most of the articles I sent got published. (Read: Steve on evolution of internet * Wayanad trip * Binsar Trip * Ramanagara Rock Climbing * AWPT pet care)
Ergo editor writes about closing print edition
Recession is termed as the reason for discontinuation of print edition. Running a newspaper is an expensive business- Nishindra verma of DNA was telling that it takes just a few crores to start a TV channel, but hundreds of crores to start a newspaper. though Ergo might not have consumed hundreds of crores (as they might have used THE HINDU's resources and network for printing, information source etc) money was certainly needed in good amount. Since it is circulated free, advertisement revenue is the sole source of income, which might have dipped significantly, partially due to recession, partially due to fall in circulation. (Even otherwise when we pay 2-3 Rs for a newspaper, actual production cost will be 10-15 times that amount, but compensated heavily by advertisements)

Primary target audience for Ergo was IT professionals. As far as I know several IT companies have banned Ergo from their campus- exact reason for this is not known- but two possible ones are: 1. Loss of productivity- Companies might have felt their employees are spending too much of office time reading Ergo (and solving Sudoku!) or 2. Housekeeping: If a building has 1000 people and each collects one copy of Ergo, end of the day housekeeping staff will have to collect and dispose 1000 copies of Ergo from the office desks- (usually employees don't bother to take it home)- this is naturally an unnecessary burden on the companies.

Ergo team could have tried a paid subscription model before deciding to close down print version. But I feel people wouldn't have cared to subscribe for something they are used to getting it free all these years. In paid subscription mode they would have lost as much as 80-90% of their reader base, making it unviable from logistics and advertising perspective.

One small solace is that Ergo will continue online at www.goergo.in. Going exclusively online saves heavily on printing and logistics expenses. Thus the content (articles, news, cartoons) will still be available for interested readers. But online version is no substitute for reading a printed version. To me as a potential contributor, seeing my name in a website is not as exciting as seeing it in print. In online mode they'll have to try hard to retain reader base and stay distinguished from similar sites. All the best to ERGO team. (Sadly several companies have blocked Ergo's website too)

And then, heard DNA is preparing to launch its Chennai Edition. More competition ahead.

Similar: Nishindra Verma on future of print media * Workshop on broadcast journalism *
Logo from Ergo website, second image via Mohan BN
August 20th Update: I'm not seeing any major changes in Ergo website, except few new articles

9 comments :

Mohan said...

I got to know about Ergo through your blog as you were contributing articles to them. I did enjoy reading your content in the shortened form from your blog.

Many will surely miss ergo.. Hope the online edition continues to attract more people.

Mridula said...

Hey but think of all the trees that get saved because it is online now!

hari said...

The economic model is unsustainable because

1. It does not have the distribution necessary to attract advertising enough to cover its costs.

2. It does not have a readership that is loyal enough to pay for it even after enjoying it for free over a period of time.

Most of these small-time publications go bust for exactly the reasons mentioned above.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Mohan,
Thanks. Yes, we'd miss it. But life moves on. There's online edition anyway.

Mridula,
Yes, agree, but then, I would love to see a different newspaper (sure you got it) go exclusively online first, than Ergo...

Hari,
Agreed. Also, one it is made pay and buy, some more effort will need to be spent to convince people to pay, collect their payment, deliver promptly to everyone who's paid, keep a tab on who has paid, who hasn't renewed...

Just Another Gurl said...

wow, i hadn't heard about ERGO yet! but will surely visit their site. Well it depends what its content were...Pune mirror was a supplement called with times of India which was distributed free of cost (in Pune of course !)...but now they have made it a paid service. People do go for it since it has the most frivolous gossips possible and Hollywood news...

And if at all we want to save trees, please ban pune mirror :):)

Anonymous said...

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Shrinidhi Hande said...

Just another Gurl,
Thanks for updating us on happenings at Pune

Smarry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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