Mumbai: Times Network’s news channel Mirror Now recently revamped its branding and unveiled a new visual identity and content format. The channel has also overhauled its programming and content strategy, introducing five new primetime shows, that includes its flagship show- 'The Urban Debate'. Mirror Now editor Nikunj Garg will act as the editorial prism that will coalesce the news behind the scenes at the channel that has always prided itself on its ‘viewer-centric journalism’ and a slogan that declared “a news channel that fights for you”. At a media roundtable held on the sidelines of the Goafest 2022, Garg spoke about the refurbished editorial strategy of the Mirror Now channel.
“MirrorNow is most certainly moving away from its hyper-local and local stance," declared Garg. “We will take up local issues, but with a national perspective- the prism will be national now”. No challenge is truly local, he continued, adding that sometimes a problem can be local but it may not be limited to that one city or state. “Before this, we were somehow confining ourselves- that confinement will move and those barriers will be moved. Am here to broaden the arc.”
Garg took charge of the editorial responsibility of the news channel in October last year, with the agenda of driving the channel’s growth. Apart from his role as editor of Mirror Now, Garg also heads the input and newsgathering at Times Network. Under his helm, Mirror Now will become “a more audacious brand”, stated Garg. It will retain the core values of what Mirror Now has always stood for- that of challenging the status quo and demanding accountability from powers-that-be while continuing to operate completely independent of other Times Network channels, he reassured.
Mirror Now channel’s traditional bastions were urban and youth-centric viewers (between 22–40 years old) who looked to the channel to give an unfiltered view of wide-ranging issues such as poor infrastructure, women’s safety, fuel price hikes, etc. “The Mirror Now brand has a natural resonance in metros like Goa and Delhi which has probably a lot to do with our content focus. News values exist within a spectrum and Times Now and Mirror Now exist at different ends of the spectrum. While we may cover the same issues such as Kashmir, Pakistan, foreign policy etc. Mirror Now will cover these issues by highlighting the people’s perspective i.e., how these events will affect the lives of urban middle-class Indians everywhere.”
Garg is a 20-years plus veteran journalist and one of the few longstanding reporters in the TV broadcast industry. He’s been associated with the Times Network for over a decade and has covered pressing issues such as Bofors scandal, Mumbai 26/11 attacks, IPL match-fixing and more recently government’s decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a time when TV news brands are increasingly defined by the faces of its primetime debaters, Mirror Now has decided to focus on the overall news brand and what it stands for. After the high profile exits of two of its leading news anchors Faye D’Souza and Tanvi Shukla, it seems that the channel has hedged its bets by naming five anchors to lead its programming. The programming segments this time will be led by journalists Heena Gambhir, Tamanna Inamdar, Afrida Rahman Ali, Griha Atul and Archana Solanki as anchors. According to Garg, “Even the best anchor has their limitations. Different personalities bring different thoughts and ideas to a news product. We are populating the Mirror Now brand with the thoughts of ideas of these five bright individuals.”
The programming strategy also reflects the new brand refocus as the channel cuts down its primetime debate by one hour whereas most news channels generally have two-hour primetime debates. Instead, the channel has opted for curated shows that offer more information through research analysis and explanatory news segments. “I fundamentally believe that debate and discussion should be limited content. As brands mature and evolve, we realised that relying on breaking news and anything that is organically emanating (daily news cycle) has its limitations. Going forward, you have to plan your content.”
“That’s why Mirror Now is going to be the thinking Indian’s destination on TV. As a thinking man’s channel, providing pertinent information to our viewers will take the prime seat,” Garg affirmed.
When queried whether TV rating data by Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) would have an impact on the channel’s programming strategy, Garg replied, “Ratings give you a tunnel vision from a marketing point of view. The fact remains that we live in a world of ratings and it is a common currency in the industry. They are relevant because they nudge me to do a better job.” However, he added, “while ratings are relevant, they don’t drive the content on my channel,” he said, signing off.