The first thing that strikes you about the business cards that journalists with the just-launched Mint hand out is the stark absence of titles. "Readers don’t care if you’re a senior correspondent or a special, special correspondent,” laughs Raju Narisetti, the paper’s managing editor – his card too is sans a designation. “We have a pretty flat structure here anyway."
Launched by HT Media, the company that publishes Hindustan Times and Hindustan, in association with Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Mint shatters many notions that conventional business papers hold sacrosanct.
"A typical business reader spends no more than 30 minutes on his paper. The idea was to give this reader clarity minus the clutter," says the paper’s publisher, Rajan Bhalla. Adds Narisetti, "The intention is to capture the central issue."
Mint has been designed by Mario R Garcia, the man who redesigned The Wall Street Journal and The Hindu. "My brief was clear," says Garcia. "The paper had to have substance and gravitas."
The result? A business paper that isn’t pink and isn’t a broadsheet (its Berliner size - larger than a tabloid, smaller than a broadsheet is the format such international papers as The Guardian now follow).
The paper had to be visually inviting with strong branding that had an international look and feel to it. Along with the paper’s launch on February 1, the web edition ( www.livemint.com ) also went live.
Mint has its work cut out. Launched in a market that is already bustling with a number of financial and business newspapers, 24X7 channels and internet sites, the paper seeks to break new ground with news that is clear, relevant and succinct. A daily section, Business of Life, runs the gamut from personal finance to health and wellness.
The paper already has an annual subscriber base of 55,000 and a total paid circulation of 80,000. "We’re already the number two business paper," says Bhalla.
Why Mint? "It's a very catchy name that denotes making money,” says Bhalla. On the masthead, a brand new coin, designed by Garcia, dots the 'i'. The story: in the 16th century, the first newspapers issued in Venice were read publicly every month. The fee for listening was one gazetta (which explains the popularity of the word ‘gazette’ with newspapers). Garcia found an old coin, three weeks before the paper’s launch, and remembered the old story.
Clearly, this is a formula designed to work.