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Notch A digital lifestyle magazine
with different flavour

Barely two months into business and Notch, a Chennai-based digital magazine is creating waves in the social media scene-nearly three-and-a-half lakh followers on Facebook in just three months. Yagna Balaji, editor of the magazine, gets candid with Janani Rajeswari S, about being part of a first-of-its-kind digital magazine, its potentials and challenges involved.

Notch’ is essentially a lifestyle magazine started by a company that is into pharmaceuticals and e-commerce. Sample this: a magazine that resembles the ‘Talking newspaper’ created by JK Rowling in the magical world of Harry Potter. Created on similar lines, ‘Notch’ is available only on digital platforms such as Android and IPad, making it unique in all ways. So, you get to enjoy text and photos and also videos and audio clips.

“Some years ago, who thought that something like this could be a reality? I hadn’t seen anything like that before,” is the first reaction of the magazine’s editor Yagna Balaji. She found the medium new and intriguing at the same time. “I come from a hardcore newspaper background. But when I saw this format, I found it extremely attractive. I saw its vast potential that went beyond just text and pictures,” she says, adding that she took some time to understand the format. Thus, planning the content is certainly going to be challenging. “It is essential to look at a story from a 360 degree angle. The creative element is the key to bringing the story to life with video, audio, text and photos,” Yagna says. The result is definitely evident. The cover designs definitely reach out to you. While Kareena made it to the cover in the debut issue, the second explores the father-son bonding between Farhan and Javed Akhtar.

The ground work for the magazine began in December last year. “Initially, we checked out various magazines in India but none of them were in the digital format. Also they were very specific magazines that spoke about politics, entertainment, fashion, interiors and so on. But we were looking at a full-fledged lifestyle magazine which has a wider focus,” she adds.

But how does Yagna define ‘lifestyle’? “It should comprise of all the real aspects such as entertainment, fashion, travel, food, interiors, health and wellness. In addition, we include humour and games,” she reveals. Notch will be a vehicle of the Indian community for the ‘global Indian’.

This group may consist of non-resident Indians or even those who have traveled immensely. Yagna reveals that their endeavour intends to show them the ‘India of today’.

“India is the flavour of the world. Indians are everywhere. Take for instance, how leading productions houses in the world are coming forward to be part of Bollywood. Or who thought that a fashion designer from Orissa would design the outfits of America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama,” she reveals.

“As a journalist, I wanted to focus on this India and not merely through culture and heritage magazines. That is extremely important. Yet, I believe that Notch does justice to altering ‘conventional’ ideas about India among the select target audience,” says Yagna.

Any particular reason for putting celebrities from Bollywood on the cover in the first two issues? “Entertainment is what people want in particular, ‘Bollywood’. This is true with all age groups. There are no two ways about it. But, we focus on the lifestyle of the personalities. For instance, in the interview with Farhan Akhtar, there is no mention of his upcoming film. It only explores his relationship with his father,” she says.

In the magazine, there is a zest to lend a different touch to all subjects covered. For instance, offering spirituality with a touch of modernity. “The concept has to be pertinent to ‘now’ yet presented with a difference. Thus, we chose to feature a personality like Deepika Mehta to talk about Yoga. The same is the case with a serious subject like ‘spirituality’. We decided to opt for writers who could present it from a different dimension altogether,” she adds.

It is indeed interesting to note that nearly 70-80 percent of its readers are from north India despite being headquartered in Chennai. “The good thing was that we could gauge people’s reaction immediately on social networking sites,” reveals Yagna. The magazine published ads only on the social networking sites initially. Keeping three-and-a-half lakh followers in less than three months on Facebook is definitely a feather in its cap. The team constantly updates on Facebook about Bollywood and fashion. Sometimes, readers get a little sneak-peek into the contents of the upcoming issue of the magazine.

But why the conscious detour from the print medium? “Today, everyone has a hand-held in some form or the other. I would prefer calling Notch an ‘Appzine’, as named by a friend of mine,” she says. Yagna feels that there are a lot of complications when it comes to a print edition. She adds that a print edition would also limit the circulation. So, how has the response been to the new attempt? “It’s been so positive. People recognize its potential and wish to be part of it,” she says.

With a core team right out of her wish list well in place and gearing up for the next issue, all Yagna can say in the end is: “I am learning a new format and I am lucky to be part of a team that can create a change.”


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