Islamabad Dateline: New paper on the block

Published: December 29, 2010
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The six-day a week paper is set to offer hyper local content readers of the twin cities

The already saturated print market is to see the launch of yet another newspaper. The editor of upcoming paper, Islamabad Dateline tells me that the paper will begin distribution early next year (they have already begun dummy runs). But, I am curious to see if a city paper will be able to compete with existing national dailies.

As a new entrant into the media industry, who is perhaps not old enough to resist innovation, I think Islamabad Dateline has two points in its favour: sixteen pages of localised content and the fact that it will be published six days a week, which make the paper quite different.

The year 2010 saw the launch of two national English papers, The Express Tribune and Pakistan Today. This should be a cause of concern for the new publication because while national papers may not boast about their city coverage, every one of them has pages dedicated to the city of print.

However, editor Kamran Rehmat says Islamabad Dateline will attempt to engage a niche market, ie: the residents of Islamabad, while providing it with a more detailed and issue driven agenda, which may not be the prime focus of national papers.

“Islamabad has never been owned by the national media,” says Rehmat who has worked at DawnNews and later at The Express Tribune as the Islamabad city editor in the past. This will be a paper “by the city, for the city,” he says.

The paper will not be based on what the editor calls “just event reporting” but will rather touch upon problems of the capital city.

Rehmat says the paper is to be published only six days a week so readers can have “one day of rest.” While I don’t clearly see how this approach will work, as news does not skip a day, Rehmat says that the team at Islamabad Dateline has made this decision “after much research” and hence I am not going to pose an argument here.

The paper, which has veteran Urdu journalist Mustansir Javed as its publisher, is apparently following the idea or the “successful experiment of The Express Tribune” as Rehmat puts it, of hiring new faces to have fresh perspectives on issues.

Also, the paper intends to provide its readers a participatory role by encouraging residents of Islamabad, along with popular names, to write opinion pieces on various subjects. If I were a disgruntled citizen of a country trapped in a web of numerous problems, I would certainly want to write my thoughts out. So, that sounds like another good idea. However, how this is different from blogs, I will have to wait and see when the paper actually comes out.

Until then, as anyone else in the media industry would do, I wish them good luck in their endeavor.

Ali Syed

Ali Syed

An MBA student at LUMS who likes to write about matters that may not really matter to most. He tweets @alisyedsays

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.