Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Funny Media Matters in Kerala and Mallu Mallu Pyar of Manorama

Everybody knows that Kerala is 100% literate and it in turn means that most people can read . Kerala has the largest no of periodicals , magazines and newspapers in India and this keeps on increasing every year. One of the things that I enjoy is the media wars between the two leading newspapers in Kerala . Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi . You can see it from villages in Kerala to the brand equity pages of Economic Times with claims on who is delivering to and growing in Kerala.

Often I wonder what is the basic premise based on which somebody selects a paper or a magazine to read.The challenge of any media is engaging the mind of the user and making him an addict with whatever they give so that they wont defect to the opposing camp and Malayala Manorama has championed this by using the Mallu Mallu Pyar concept by glorifying and finding a Mallu link in anything that occurs in the world.They have even managed to popularise a Mallu link with Boris Becker.

Malayala Manorama has constantly positioned themselves as the "Largest read regional daily in India' which in fact gives an implication that if you are reading Malayala Manorama then you are reading something that the majority is reading , something that appeals to the emotional alter ego of people.They are silently asking us to be a part of majority through the marketing communication and is again evoking the Mallu Mallu Pyar Glorification by the recent TV advertisement of Largest read regional daily in India being in Malayalam.It does evoke some unwanted Mallu pride at least in the minds of some people I knew.Jack Trout would have been happy to give the example of Manorama in his popular positioning concept.Very few people change the paper they are addicted to and that's why I find the Positioning of Malayala Manorama very attractive from a marketing point of view.It will be very hard for Mathrubhumi or anyone to displace Manorama from this positioning unless they find something which is very innovative.

There is a funny element to this. Most people in Kerala do believe what they read in paper and they do believe that papers are giving them a true picture.But in Kerala the funny picture is that every element in society has a biased approach and filters out news in a funny way for the same incident. Sample these .

The news from Deshabhimani the mouth organ of communist party says that Priests attacked Police and see the photo below.

The news from Malayala Manorama says that Police attacked the priests and see the photo below.

Pictures : Courtesy Jo

This single news article would have tilted the opinions of many people on what actually happened and that is the power of media.

Now sample these.I was once standing at the office of Vice Chancellor of Cochin University and few student communist leaders barged in.Apparently they were cross with a Professor and crashed a huge trophy into his bald head. Poor guy was taken to the hospital immediately by the staff while the student comrades just walked away unharmed.Nest day there was an article in Deshabhimani about how certian student leaders were peacefully chatting with a professor , how a trophy fell on his head and how the student leaders immediatley rushed his to the hospital.Personalised news where the trophy became the culprit and the actual culprit became the savior. That is the extent of customisation in Kerala Media and no longer media bats on actually what happened.

Just wondering what stand will media take if anything like Jessica Lal/ Priyadarshini Mattoo/Nitish Katara/Alister Pereira happen in Kerala .

There is an interesting twist to the media coverage that came after the launch of news channels where the distinct line between entertainment and news is being forgotten and when everything is being telecaseted live.Hopefully , at least some people after reading this wont take everything that they read in whatever paper you read for the face value.

Inspired by :
Manorama just claimed 8th rank among global news portals


Jubin George said...

Can we call it both sides of the story? And each tells which side they are. The police attacking protesters/protesters attacking police picture come with every major clash in such incidents. And religiously both the dailies carry it on their front pages. And they never change sides, even by mistake. I used to have a good collection of such clippings, about hundred pairs, which I dumped with many other things sometime back.

I don't think it distorts facts as such, because every single one in Kerala knows 'Manorama's point of view', and 'Deshabhimani's point of view'. And they see right through it.

Manu said...

mallu mallu pyar is not the only thing!.In 2004 when the war against terror of US regularly made into the headlines of papers, my friend happened to buy Manorama from Kottayam on his way back to the College. As our college was in Calicut we had the malappuram edition of the same paper and when I happened to glance thru Kottyam edition of the same paper for the same day, See what difference I spotted in the main page.

Kottayam Edition: "America aanjadikkunnu"

Malappuram Edition:"Iraq thirichadikkunnu"

anything to beat this :D

Nariyal Chutney said...

@ Jubin:Hmm , Ya both sides of the story in which the victim and the culprit chnages according to the paper you read :P .

@ Manu:There are two parts to this post . The first part is about the marekting of manorama which I am a fan of and the mallu mallu pyar comes as a part of the Mallu Cause champion. But what you have said about the two editions brings out the customisation in the news that happens in Kerala and the funny media matters in Kerala.

Manu said...

See, Muslims forms the largest number in malappuram and in Kottayam it’s the Christians. So, customizing the news in an attempt to match the taste of its readers in two different regions is a part of their marketing strategy. Isn’t it?

Srijith Unni said...

That`s pretty enlightening, NC.. Didn`t know that there was this much of media distortion..! However I must say Malayala Manorama has been a consistent performer..!

With Best Regards,

Jo said...


Even the party members hardly 'read' (perhaps they are flipping pages) Desabhimani. If you have a look at the D subscriber houses, you would see they are subscribing to a second newspaper. And most interestingly this second newspaper would be Malayala Manorama. They subscribe Manorama to read and Desabhimani for the subscription sake.

Is it just only in the case of Kerala? Let me share my thoughts from my experience of going through a couple of national media:

Pioneer - Extremely right-wing

India Today, Headlines Today - Pro-BJP, rightwing

Hindu, Frontline - Leftwing, but (in my opinion) has some credibility in their reporting of events

NDTV Pro-Congress

I can go and on... :-)

In my opinion Mathrubhumi is the best newspaper in Kerala, though they have slight left leaning.

What I like about Malayala Manorama is their design & layout team is the best! If Mathrubhumi can bring in such quality design/layoutwise, I am sure they would be the number 1.

And have you noticed the number of ads MM has everyday? :-) (I think it would be equivalent ore more than the news they publish)

crocodile said...

Not just the papers, we are like that too - but that isnt so unnatural.
Just suppose you witnessed an accident - your version would be different from the next onlookers !!
Even if you suffered from no overt bias. Better to read everything and believe nothing - most of all the wealth management advisers ;-)

Neihal said...

Well said NC. :)

Those pics..hahaha...but then every coin has two sides, eh?

on a more serious note , you made your point really well. And hope more ppl learn to see beyond what they are shown by the media.

Attribution said...

Talking of Ads I could hardly find any news item today, some which were spotted were wedged between different ads for Akshaya trithiya (Jewelery/jewellery). This has been the case with most of the malayalam papers for the past one week.

Sandeep Sadanandan said...

A good post.


ursjina said...

hehe..brilliant post!!1
at the same time, the readers do filter out some info with relation to the orientation of the paper...unless ur a oh-sp convinced communist or a congress person...

and I guess its not just the news many a times which attract u to u say nokia is user friendly..manorama too is...
oops..did i spill out my loyalties..hehe

Neihal said...

you have been tagged NC.Dekho my blog :)

Nariyal Chutney said...

Manu: Ya , thats it. May be it is because Manorama has different editions in these two towns.

@srijith::P , Consistent performer serving the interests of the people they target ine ach news :P.

@Jo:You are right mate.Each media has its own inclinations and people subscribe to Manorama and Deshabhimani to know the two sides (hopefully). Mathrubhumi is no better than Manorama and had used ppaer to advertise Virendra Kumar when he was a minister :). But their content is very good as you said :).

@crocodile:Better to read all and belive nothing :). With so much media vehicles that seem to be the only thing worth following :).

Nariyal Chutney said...

@neihal:Hope people will follow crocodiles advice , read everything and believe nothing :)

@attribution:Hmm, No wonder even the internet editions of Malayalam newspapers are so cumbersome with so many popup ads.But as they say everything is driven by profit motive.


@ursjina::). Can gauge where your loyalties lie and Manorama's user friendliness is a debatable issue :? . But may be you have a point since I have been brought up on a staple diet of Manorama I hate designs of other Malayalam newspapers :).

@neihal:I had a dekho and is surely taking up that tag :)

satya said...

hi, came across your site when i done a google of mathurbhumi +.. Do you know a thing or two about what kind of ads newspapers might put? Well, i am in search of a family in aleppey (know subtle details like the family has two sons - engineers, elder in Sun micro systems, USA, younger studied in Tamil nadu) But dont know the names af anybody in the family.
i wrote to my friend in mathrubhumi, kochi, but he said after enquiring with the advt section that they cant put such advts!! If required it can be put as a news, but i am not interested in that.

Now, do you think some other newspapers (say maadhyamam, kaumudi) will put an advt which might appear like this:

I am looking for this family in Alleppey Dt. Only info known is that: Father is in a high position in a government job. They have two sons. Elder son: He was working in Sun microsystems, USA during 2002, 2003 etc…. His wife also joined Sun microsystems, USA after their marriage. Younger son: He did his college studies (BE/MCA) in tamil nadu during 2002, 2003 etc…
They are hindus…
If you know of such a family, pls inform...."


Nariyal Chutney said...

Satya , I have made a post only for you . Hope you find them :)

satya said...

i seen that u have posted..

seeandoh said...

I was searching for a site that is pulling the tail of the Newspapers. The war between the No. 1 and No. 2 newspapers was at its peak in 2004. Then it spiralled down and mathrubhumi accepted its second position. Yes you are right, the newspapers are very biased and well bend the news as per their likes and dislikes. Manorama last week published the picture of advt. agencies families posing for a photo at Nedumbassery Airport before departing to Dubai sponsored by Manorama. After 3-4 days it again published the photo with the face of James Valappila and family beaming with a victory sign. Malayala Manorama is too much obsessed of this Valappila family which is an Advt. agency in Thrissur giving a major chunk of revenue for Manorama. He can manipulate the Newspaper the way he likes and the shameless advt/marketing chronies in Thrissur unit dance to his tune. has more o this war of dailies

seeandoh said...

Manorama has just recently sent me a Letter (Infact one from The Week as well)saying that they have circulation of 15 million copies and since they have that much circulation they want to hike the advt tariff. Then the usual excuse of increase in Newsprint costs etc. The Newspapers run on Advertisements and now a days they are more oriented to that advertising revenue part. And hence they started comprimising on content especially News and current affairs and started dedicating some pages upto 80 % and more for advt. It is sad that there are very few competitors in the Newspaper business and Manorama is the monopolist. This is very visible in their attitudes to small advertisers and agencies.

Bonchi Buji said...

well..that's why our morning news in asianet has a special feature called "Pathrangaliloode.."maybe the viewers can spot the difference there!!