When you calculate or plan the ‘capacity’ of a crowded place, in terms of a frolicking gentry in a building or a mall you normally take an area of nine square feet per person (3 x 3 feet). In Delhi Metro this painfully gets reduced to four square feet per person (2 x 2) or even less because of the huge crowd.
In big cities and booming metros preference of real estate in terms of size has only reduced because of the size of the pocket, so much so in very expensive areas three bedrooms have become two and two have become one. Therefore, the in thing today is … single or a small-size or even a compact unit.
In the auto industry also, sedans have become compact sedans and compact sedans have become hatchbacks. 350 CC bikes have reduced to 125 CC.
But even with all the stinginess of shapes and sizes all around. The size of newspapers continue to remain as generous as ever and the thickness has only increased because of the boom in advertisements.
Now, let us for a moment run through the unwieldy size and spread of the newspaper. Take for example the size of Times of India which is 32.9 cm in width x 52.5 cm height = 13 x 21 inches respectively, which is around 210 square inches or 2.09 square feet and if you open the newspaper holding the two ends in your hands the width increases to 2.2 feet and the area to approximately 4 square feet.
Today, India has a literacy level of 74%. Most homes subscribe to newspapers, be it in English, Hindi or any other local language. And with the rise in population the density of people living per square kilometre has also increased. Places have become overcrowded. Therefore, as a consequence people are unable to read newspapers in crowded places because of its unwieldy size, folds and pleats that are extremely inconvenient to spread, especially when the fan above you is swirling. This has led to:
- Increase in number of subscriptions but reduction in actual reading, as most subscribers have only become ‘Head-Line’ viewers because they don’t get an opportunity to read their newspaper during the day in crowded locations to their hearts content, which is because of its onerous size and folds.
- Most office goers would love to read newspapers in the morning while travelling to office to utilise their time effectively, in a public transport. But the unwieldy size doesn’t allow you that convenient privilege.
- Once you are in office you are on the grind and newspaper is soon forgotten as—
SO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE
- The size of the newspaper should be made more slim and precise so that one can open and read it in crowded niches, in metros and in other modes of public transport where even INTERNET doesn’t work, and so you can’t think of reading newspapers.
- The correct design could be a ‘newspaper’ that could be opened and read with a single hand more like a book in crowded places.
- One can think of compartmentalising the daily newspaper into various chapters that can be sold separately if the subscriber doesn’t want the full newspaper, for everyone doesn’t read everything in the newspaper, such as:
- Only Headlines
- Current affairs
- Page 3
- Movies and entertainment
- Medical and Health
- Corporate and Industry
- International affairs
I understand the paper of the ‘newspaper’ is subsidised and the same can continue. Irrespective of the size and compartmentalised contents, as this is one of the widest and most effective ways towards a literate India. Even if GOI has to spend extra it should not mind and the citizens and the newspaper lobby should push for it.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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