Indian Media & new media[twitter et all] ..

Pluggd.in posted some thoughts on Indian media & twitter & as someone working on news & new media, I left my thoughts on there. Posting it for my audience.

I know I am little late to this party – But here are my thoughts.

The fundamental problem of the media is as follows: They are looking at someone else to innovate & lead them out of this attention hell. A messiah or a white knight outside their industry. They forget that they need to be leading the way & innovating.

– Shovelware – I think you hit the nail on the head by branding it as such. Even in terms of shovelware they are doing a bad job.

Shouldnt readers consume more of their information given how easy it is get to it? I am willing to bet that the reader consumption on media sites has gone down, this is different from the traffic to their sites. Back in the day (aka my grandpa’s time) people used to reader the paper cover to cover or atleast a good chunk of it starting with the obituary 🙂 (Sad, I know but thats what the hindu newspaper reader who was about 60 did). The focus of the media is sadly on the breaking news or the top news & keep highlighting the same content again & again till the view tunes out.

Reporting has become a commodity, pay 25K a month to PTI and you get to start your own news site. Journalism is still buried behind walls of fear of plagiarism. Here are some questions to the average reader – Can one name 5 journalists that they read? (Columnists perhaps) Is it not in the interest of the media house to publish that information with the article? A good number of the articles dont even make it online.

Indian Media houses have been thinking that print is not going to be impacted for a while. Yet they are concerned about being over dependent on ads on the offline medium. That might be true for vernacular languages given that tier-II & III cities are starting to be more educated but english newspapers are in for trouble soon. Some of them have realised that online cant be a second fiddle in the long run, which is why 6-8 of the top news sites have invested money and redesigned their websites. Some such as the hindu have even started the web first policy. This is a step in the right direction. Fundamentally if they realized that they have to stop treating their audience like school kids and start to engage with them, they are going to benefit from it.

There are encouraging signs that they are open to it. But getting back to Twitter & microblogging – they need to lead rather than follow. You will find that most Indian sites end up posting agency news feeds through the day to get google news juice and then save the content for the evenings. GOOG has been slowly pull the rug under them by taking one function after another from them (First it was the front page, next picture thumbnails, next the search box & now authors) It is only a matter of time before Indian media houses complain about google.

By the time they get on twitter and start to engage cracks will appear in that model as well. There are about 50+ media sites on twitter all having less than 10K followers. This is especially pathetic when you consider that the audience is about 600K users (loads of NRI’s are on twitter). If you compare this to the likes of CNN which has about 3M followers, you wonder if these guys are even on the same planet.

Yet there is hope, if you look at the twitter handles such as bangalorenews there is a niche audience. Question is how do you engage them? DNA was out front when they had 2 people out of bangalore running their twitter handle. It created an engaging medium but for some odd reason they stopped.

Media houses need to think of this as investment for the tough times that lie ahead. They are too busy investing in the epaper sites. I seriously doubt the depth of that audience for english papers. Mobile sites have to go beyond a simple html page with 5 topics. If a pepsi distributor can enable his employees who take stock (at various stores to replish them) with smart phones, why arent journalist being enables with smart phones & twitter? Microblog allows you to know who your audience is, yet these guys dont use them. Someone needs to be wake them up.

Readership surveys point a rosy picture for vernacular language newspapers while for english papers the picture is good for TOI, others have a problem. Either ways 2010 promises to be an interesting year ahead.

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