'Digital and video formats are getting popular in recent times'

Vikram Chandra, Founder of editorji & Sudhir Mishra, Managing Partner of Trust Legal, spoke about realities of newsrooms and emerging media formats at e4m English Journalism 40 Under 40 Summit

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Apr 28, 2022 8:34 AM  | 4 min read
Vikram Chandra and Sudhir Mishra

Television news is becoming more polarized than ever and opinions, not facts, are being presented in the news to gain more TRPs which helps make money, says Vikram Chandra, Founder, editorji Technologies. Chandra, who quit TV news a few years ago to set up his own AI-based video news platform, was speaking at the fireside chat titled “Decoding The Changing Nature Of Video News” with Sudhir Mishra, Managing Partner, Trust Legal at the “e4m English journalism 40 under 40” summit. The summit was held in Delhi on Wednesday.

In conversation with Mishra, Vikram Chandra, gave a glimpse of the realities of the TV newsrooms, emerging media formats, especially video, that disrupted the news market, prompting him to quit TV.

“There were multiple reasons for quitting news anchoring. Linear TV format today faces challenges from OTT and other formats across the world. I don’t know how long that format will work. TV is not the answer to what news consumers are seeking today. Digital and video formats are getting popular. Another challenge is how you separate facts and opinion while presenting the news and on which digital platforms news is being consumed,” Chandra explained.

Chandra said that people were falling sick watching noisy TV news these days.

The former group CEO of leading news channel NDTV left the channel in 2016 to setup editorji. He launched editorji in 2018, positioning it as a disruptive offering in the digital news space. Editorji is an AI-based news platform, which offers free, short, and customized video newscasts. HT Media and Bharti Airtel are among the early investors in Editorji with RPSG Group later acquiring a majority stake in the app.

Users’ daily video newscast is tailor-made by AI and machine learning algorithms, based on their location, and preferences, Chandra said.

They can also create their own newscasts, add comments, and share it with other users and friends on social media like Twitter, or Instagram.

“Given the general trend of shortening attention spans and changing consumer behavior during the pandemic, short-form videos have been emerging as a popular media format in recent times”, Chandra said.

On the making of editorji, Chandra said, “I explored for two years to understand how people consume video news and how we can utilize this format and use AI and algorithms that can help us understand what humans of a particular location want. Pandemic helped us evangelise the change. We didn’t just want to tell people to come and download our app to get the video which we have created. This would not have worked in this era when information is flowing freely all around. We wanted to offer curated video newscasts according to consumers’ interests and needs.”

During the fireside chat, Mishra reminded Chandra of his old arguments that over 30,000 set-top boxes decide the future of TV (TRPs) in India and what would 130 crore consumers watch. Mishra added that the time slot, which is crucial for TV, is not important for digital. People can watch the digital news or video whenever they want and this is what worked in editorji’s favour.

Citing his initial challenges, he said, “I didn’t want to present the news in traditional formats which showcase national news, international news, features, debates etc. forcing everyone to watch the same content. Instead, I wanted to give news content that consumers wanted to watch. For us, it was a challenge to know the algorithm of video news viewership so that we can take a call on our newscasts.”

Chandra said, “Our platform provides one-tap access to a personalized newscast that is created by an algorithm which considers many parameters including location, news categories, preferred style of news and so on. Users can skip stories that they do not want to see by simply swiping."

Chandra has also patented his AI-linked news format. When asked about the investors that supported editorji due to its unique concept, Chandra said, “We never planned different rounds for investment. Since we were planning to do something radical, we had expected a longer incubation period. I was just fortunate that Airtel and HT came forward to invest in the platform. Later, the RPG group came on board.”

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