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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The future is Purple

We recently took a phone interview with Mishu Rahman, Editor, Purple Magazine, the increasingly popular Bangladeshi monthly. Please listen to the phonecast and read the supporting transcript below. You can join the Purple group in Facebook here.

1.What is the vision of Purple Magazine? Why do you think Purple is different?

PURPLE was started with a dire need to represent Bangladesh positively to a global audience in an exciting way. Most Magazines in Bangladesh are catalogues of lifestyle shopping and those which offer good reads are presented in a boring format, or else involves stale ideas and people repeating the same things across various media platforms.
PURPLE dared to take a non-political, social research based trend tracking approach which we call tracking “the Pulse of Bangladesh” The presentation in world class, language is international magazine standards and interaction with readers happen at state of the art platforms. PURPLE gives ample space to new and fresh ideas, avoids commercialization of issues and creates excitement about Bangladeshis and Bangladesh to a global audience. The vision is to bring in international recognition of PURPLE as a platform to initiate conversation on things affecting Bangladesh and the region. Already PURPLE has been distributed at a Cambridge Leadership summit as a Pre-reading for a session on Global environment to 110 young global leaders and our Agriculture Issue last November was distributed to all international dignitaries who joined the World Food Summit in Rome as a complete perspective of work being done on Agriculture in Bangladesh. These are small steps but we are getting there with each step.

2. How do you classify yourself i.e. lifestyle magazine, leisure, entertainment?
PURPLE’s mission is to enlighten, entertain, enrich inspire and interact and initiate. It celebrates the Bangladeshi Spirit. We call ourselves a Contemporary issues magazine and we have various segments catering to business, entertainment, lifestyle, culture and politics.

3. Who is your target audience? why do you target them? how do you target them?
Our target audience is anyone in Bangladesh who feel the need to be engaged with the times – and we believe everyone needs to be, so that we our cumulative contribution to the development of our country can be that much greater. We have seen that various cover stories of PURPLE appeal to different segments of the society. For example one cover two years ago on the brash lives of urban school and college students from wealthy backgrounds got a lot of urban parents writing to us asking for more details. On the other hand our issue on Agriculture generated interest of a lot researchers and analysts from across the region. Even Hugh Brammer from London who has worked in Bangladesh for over 35 years in agricultural development emailed us a writeup as a follow-up of that issue. Another Cover story on Looking at Bangladesh 30 years from now created a phenomenal participation of University students who will be middle aged citizens of Bangladesh after 3 decades to get together in workshops and send us their dreams and aspirations. Our Initiative in raising funds for the social victims raised a lot of interest among celebrities, artists and development workers. So through various features we try to engage with different parts of society which gives PURPLE an element of freshness and excitement

4. What is your opinion on the English publishing sector in Bangladesh and how PURPLE fits in there?
The English Publishing sector suffers from a dearth of readers. However, with a rising involvement of various institutions and Corporate houses, Universities and even the government in promoting the familiarity with the language, the scenario may not be the same 5 / 6 years down the line. Today we as editors suffer from a huge crisis of good writers/ reporters in English. And thus most magazines who look to become ‘English’ language magazines get away with mediocre articles, downloaded plegiarised materials and no one is the wiser.
On the brighter side, English publications with insightful articles and engaging presentations can attract a global conversation and has a wider appeal. PURPLE intends to lead in this arena over time. It has been in Publication only since July 2007, so this has been so far experimental learning. We are ready to take on bigger challenges in 2010.

5. Do you make use of internet, mobile phones, social media to promote, inform, communicate and mobilize your readers? How?
What are we today without social media? PURPLE’s facebook group gets a lot of our message across. The online version is a large platform for non-resident Bangladeshis to experience PURPLE. We are aware that as more Bangladeshis go online and use internet enabled phones, online and mobile versions will become more popular. However, the print version will never really go extinct. If this was to be, then when TV came in, the newspaper would have gone out of print!

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