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Challenges & opportunities for news in the Internet age

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Challenges & opportunities for news in the Internet age

The business of news delivery has been on a constant change owing to the emergence of new media. According to Kalli Purie, COO - Digital, India Today Group, web was a great place to tell a story.

“There are two factors that support news on the web – timeliness and maximum tools,” Purie noted. Explaining the benefits of the maximum tools, she elaborated that a piece of news could be supported with videos, pictures, links, made social by allowing the reader to give his point of view, and so on.

Suparna Singh, Deputy CEO and Managing Editor, NDTV Convergence, agreed with Purie on the immediacy of the medium and the benefit of maximum tools and brought in an important factor of the longevity of the byline. Singh remarked, “The byline is very important for a journalist. The web enables the longevity of the byline and also allows the journalists to post the URLs of their articles in various social media platforms, thereby increasing the reach.”

As the discussion progressed to the decline of the print format and the growing popularity of the digital medium, Raman Kalra, Partner, Industry Leader - Media & Entertainment, IBM, put forth his point about all the mediums co-existing and the need to strike a balance in terms of content.

There are a lot of other portals like Yahoo! and Rediff that provide the reader with small bits of information and news. The growing concern here is how news websites will generate traffic to their sites. On this, Wilf Dinnick, Founding Editor and CEO, OpenFile, said, “To have a voice in the Internet, it is very important to build the brand. And the brand can only be built by providing relevant and good content, thereby generating word-of-mouth.”

Singh addressed this concern by suggesting that social network could be used as an aid to lead to the website. “But the content has to be very good in order to make the user stay and come back,” she stressed.

Here, Purie spoke about the three factors that worked really well for their website, “The News of the Day or the Quote of the Day section is extremely popular. We also give a small promo on what will come next. The anticipation factor works well with the reader. And the ‘Breaking News’ time is the most important time for the website. That’s when you can give all you have and retain and get new readers,” she noted.

Also, the question of credibility on the web platform is a matter of growing concern in India with a lot of rumours being posted on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Dinnick believed that this was the reason why the big brands would survive as people always turned to them to confirm any news.

While a great deal is being done in the digital platform, the advertisers don’t seem to be much enthused by the medium. NDTV Convergence’s Singh pointed out a remarkable fact that the audience viewing videos on the NDTV website were equal to the audience viewing a niche channel. In spite of such a substantial number of audience, the money is not shifting.

Purie remarked that advertisers needed to understand that the audience viewing the videos online was more active and interactive and that they should look at charging a premium to allow advertising in the sites.

Kalra says that the industry has not yet started looking at the integrated platform. “The advertising in the digital medium is very different from that done in the traditional medium. Advertising in the digital medium has to be specifically contextualised”, Kalra suggests.

What is interesting to note is how digital media might eat into the pie of the traditional media, especially for brands operating in both these mediums. Experts, however, feel that there is some time before that cannibalisation begins to happen in a big way.

The speakers were taking part in the discussions during the session on ‘News in the Internet Age’ at the FICCI Frames 2011, which got underway in Mumbai on March 23, 2011.


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