As someone brought up in Chennai, i have long been used to starting my day with The Hindu newspaper. I don’t remember reading the newspaper much during my time at BITS, Pilani except for the occasional copy of the Hindustan Times . I guess, somehow i couldn’t get myself to read other newspapers due to TheHindu disease which afflicts most Chennai-ites.
Sometime in the beginning of 1988, I reached Mumbai and for the first time, I laid my hands on a copy of the Times of India newspaper and i should say it captivated me. What impressed me the most was the number of pages in it compared to relatively puny looking Hindu newspaper that i was familiar with. I didn’t think much about the difference in size at that time, but that information was definitely filed away somewhere in my brain, i am sure.
Later in Dubai, I read the Khaleej Times and Gulf News and they were not as bulky as the Times of India. It is when I reached New Jersey in the year 1990 for my first stint in the USA, that the bulkiness of the newspaper really hit me – New York Times included as many as 3 big supplements on a sunday with a full fledged magazine thrown in. Even the local Star Ledger had lots of pages.
In my second stint in the USA from 1996 onwards, I was a subscriber of New York Times, St. Petersburg Times (when in Florida) and the Star Ledger when I was in NJ and the Wall Street Journal.
I could never get through the entire newspaper on any given day and especially on Sundays the task of reading the entire newspaper would be a marathon. I always used to wonder if anyone reads the entire newspaper and if not why does it have so many pages?
Okay, I am sure you are thinking – so what is the big deal about all this with the newspapers?
Recently, on our tour of Egypt, I had a chance to read the Egyptian Gazette – it was a puny newspaper with not more than 10 pages.
That is when the Aha moment struck me – is it possible that the bulkiness of the newspaper is an approximate indicator of size of the economy? Egyptian economy is not that strong. That would explain why Mumbai, India’s financial nerve center would have a big newspaper. Same explanation for the New York Times from New York, the world’s financial nerve center. Same explanation for the relatively small size of the Hindu newspaper from Chennai which is not so economically powerful. I also happened to notice that the Hindu newspaper has grown in number of pages reflecting the growth of the Chennai economy. Or maybe it is my imagination – looking for data to support my theory (called confirmation bias).
I did some Googling to see if anyone else has talked about this idea of the number of pages of a newspaper serving as an economic index. I couldn’t find any and again it could be my confirmation bias 🙂
I haven’t thought this through completely and I don’t have too much data to support my theory other than my own observations which is not more than a handful.
I also don’t know why there is such a correlation? What exactly influences the number of pages in the newspaper that connects it to the economy? Is it advertising?
If any of you have any bright ideas either in support of or against this theory, please fire away your comments.