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 πŸ™‚ (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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Developing for the other world

Most Webservices that are catered to the “always on” mentality. While that is certainly true in the USA and other european countries it is certainly not true even for the best in places like India. Electricity is still not “always on”. It can be “mostly on” at best! I live in an apartment where if electricity goes I’m covered for 16 hours so my electricity is “almost always on”, but that is not true for the rest of the country!

Internet in this part of the world is again “mostly on”, server outages happen often and is unavailable for hours together! Bandwidth is metered if ur on a 1mbps connection, slower connections however have the unlimited option. Internet is still expensive in this country I pay about 3000Rs / 75$ per month for 10gb. So CNN pls think again before u automatically start playing a video on money.com! You just lost me! Broadband still accounts for 10% of the internet population in India. Think about the rest of country!

Mobile is “always on” in India my phone is connected for unlimited bandwidth for 400Rs / 8$ a month! The speed isn’t too great but gets the job done. A mobile phone is so vital in this country that coffee shops are providing cell phone charging ports while u sip ur latte!

Given the importance of mobile and “mostly on” Internet access the “cloud” becomes vital in this part of the world! I am willing to bet that most broadband users in this country carry high end mobile phones with GPRS which means there is good probability that they would be willing to pay a nominal fee for accessing their data! Gives micropayments a whole new meaning! Apple lost a tremendrous opportunity when it screwed up it launch by pricing the phone higher than the US market! What were they thinking! Nokia has
Made major in roads here bcos they understand the local market!

3G is scheduled to launch next year (hopefully) and if priced right the adoption levels would be crazy! Mobile operators, cell phone makers, VAS providers are going to make a killing!

So if u have webservice that has an international audience keep this in mind , you will audience will be loyal and happy πŸ™‚ but mostly done right the oppurtunity to make money!

Gotta go charge my phone .. Cheers!

I am writing this post on my iPhone while Internet and electricity is down :
πŸ˜‰

Only in India:Innovative tax practices

Its amazing to look at ways and means people come out to get things done in India πŸ™‚

Pay your taxes or face the music in India
Authorities hire drummers to play at homes that haven’t paid

HYDERABAD, India – Tax defaulters in southern India are being forced to face the music after city authorities hired drummers to play non-stop outside their homes until they pay up.
After many residents ignored repeated demands to settle overdue property taxes. authorities in a city in Andhra Pradesh state have sent 20 groups of drummers to play outside offenders houses for the past week.

A Jew in 2004?

Fortune has this article on Senator Joe Lieberman. Im surprised! One would think that Lieberman would have the lead, but does not seem to be the case 😦 I have not heard much about the other candidates other than Gephart(This guy lacks charisma!) I find lieberman sensible and to be man with principles but who knows till the scandals break out. Looks like I would have to keep my options open πŸ™‚ So whos the black sheep? Either ways should be an interesting build up to the elections next year!

Is it between John Edwards & Howard Dean

I saw John Edwards on ABC this morning, he seems like a charismatic guy. He seems to have answers for most of the questions and pretty clear and concise with his answers. Although his political campaign is yet to take off I think he would be a strong contender to Howard Dean. Im not too impressed with Graham and am rather dissappointed with Joe Leiberrman (he needs to be woken up!). Its rather early but Im betting my money on one of these candidates. IMHO Al Gore decided too early to opt out. I think he should have waited.

Should be an interesting one year πŸ˜‰ Let the debates begin πŸ˜‰

Candidate Profile: Clark

Here are my first impressions of Gen Clark(Happened to watch a town hall meeting on c-span). The first thing that you notice about this guy is he looks presidential. He seems like a straight shooter. Im most impressed by the man’s knowledge on foreign issues and his views on foreign issues. (Does GeorgeW have a policy?) Clark’s weakness is his views & answers on domestic issues, but he did do a good job of managing them well. He does not have the charisma or voice of someone like Clinton. He has immediate answers on Economy, Iraq/Terorrism and Foreign policy. Needs a lot of work medicare, social security and charisma. A interesting candidate! I suspect hed make it into the final few.

Make sure you check out his blog

Note to self: Need to generate a OPML for presidential blogs.