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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 grandpaโ€™s time) people used to reader the paper cover to cover or atleast a good chunk of it starting with the obituary ๐Ÿ™‚ (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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 NRIโ€™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.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 :
๐Ÿ˜‰

Only in India:Innovative tax practices

Its amazing to look at ways and means people come out to get things done in India ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Corruption & India – recent uproar

It seems like people are starting move their rear ends and do something about the nation that well ranked among the corrupt nations. The recent uproar is about an IIT alumni  (satyendra Dubey) murder because he wrote to the primeministers office about the incident. Read all about it below

It is outrageous! Period! Unless people take the matter into their own hands, this issues is bound to burried under the carpet in a while. The root problem needs to be addressed and tackled. The only reason this issue has gotten its limelight is because the person was an IIT alumni. Im glad that the well known people have taken a person stake it making sure something is done about it and its getting the due attention that it needs. Unless, the punishment for Corruption is stiff and treated with a stern hand & the law is taken seriously.

However, I find it equally proposterous when I find some IIT’ians use this as an excuse to leave the country. IMHO, it is ok for one to go out and experience to the world and bring back perspectives to improve the country. One also expects more from the IIT’ians bcos their TOP class education is subsidised. A few years back, when an average indian would be about 800$ a year, an average IIT’ian would pay 40$ the remainder was sponsored by the Indian government. Although, I do whole heartedly agree that many NRIs end up doing more for the country than the local folks, a fact that is often side lined. I guess, its fair to say that I have mixed feelings about this issue.

Coming back to the issue, a petition has been opened at http://www.petitiononline.com/sdubey/petition.html  so feel free to sign up. Im not a fan of petitions, have seen to many petitions offlate and have yet to see any concrete results. I would much rather see the news organisations like BBC, NDTV take up the issue with the prime minister and president and grill them on prime time television. I think it would have a far reaching impact than signing up a petition. Its too bad that India does not have a “Meet the Press” which gives a forum to grill the top brass of the government and make them accoutable. (May be they are similar ones in the same lines these days).

Accountability is missing in Indian politics! Its time to Take it to the mattress”

Update:

Here is dedicated site http://www.skdubeyfoundation.org/  sent by my sis-in-law (Is that how its said in the US?) Hmm, Anyways she is a IIT alumni & has passionately taken up this cause. I’d better put this up before I get my rear end kicked ๐Ÿ˜‰ On a serious note, please take a moment to look @ the site and contribute in your own way.

India successfully tests cryogenic engines!

 BANGALORE, India — India said Friday it has developed a rocket engine that uses supercooled liquid fuel, a technology that would allow it to launch high-altitude satellites, send a man to the moon — or build intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The engine proved its endurance by firing for nearly 17 minutes on the ground, the Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement. 

Such engines, known as “cryogenic” engines, are fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Rockets using these materials are primarily used to launch 2.5-ton communications satellites to orbits 22,000 miles above the earth. At that altitude, they match the speed of the rotating Earth and therefore stay fixed at one point above the ground.

Only a few countries — including the United States, Russia and France — can build cryogenic engines.

Way cool! The space program is kicking some mean ass! Now can some please get the ISRO web site to some descent standards pleaseeeee!