I don't know how many Indian bloggers have heard of Rafat Ali, he is the Publisher and Editor of a website called PaidContent and what is really surprising is that not only does the blog make money and has become a media entity in its own right (Five employees), because it is a must read for characters like Nick Denton of Gawker but something a colleague of mine just told me.
It seems Rafat Ali used to work at A&M, you know that really nice magazine that used to come out in the 90's. And is was a load better than that crappy Brand Reporter or Pitch shit that lands up in office every once in a while. Come to think of it, the alarming regularity with which I read informative blogs such as Blogspotting, Gizmodo, Sploid or Jalopnik its quite amazing that I still read the papers or watch TV for that matter. The Internet usually has better pictures and faster news than any other medium. The day the London Bombings happened - there were better pictures available on FlickR than on the agencies. I don't know whether blogging will ever challenge mainstream media in India, but Jain and Jain did shut down Mediaah! a few months ago in an action that preceded Steve Jobs' attack on Apple bloggers a few months later. People do read blogs, and blogs are relatively honest and bloody opinionated. Just look at the tripe I write.
But where mainstream media does have an advantage is in getting access to people. I mean would Fatty Mallaya or Fatty Ambani ever meet me the blogger, Nope. I doubt they would meet me the reporter either, but there is still an off-chance that they might. That said, I could write scurrilous things about these gentlemen, well, difficult about Fatty A, but say about their womanising or drug usage and might even get away with it. Not that I am saying anything here, I would have to make another blog for that. Sure, I guess everybody can still be tracked down (IP anonymisers and blogs, hmmm?) but blogs are freer and heck, I just write without having to worry about that every ephemeral thing, "your average reader".
Who is this average reader? The latest NRS data shows that the average reader for all business publications happens to be a college graduate with a Monthly Household Income of under Rs 15,000. And we write about the good life. Weirder still, for example, a lot of ET's readers haven't even finished school, at least thats what the readership survey says. Even funnier, BS has a higher circulation than readership, and while Indian Express gains awards they too suffer the same problem. So you can't really trust these surveys can you? Not to say that my publication did badly in these surveys, they did very well in fact, but all these surveys are dubious. Look at the TAM ratings for TV, all the ads taken out by NDTV and CNBC (I'm bigger adverts) take a very specific demographic - SEC A+ 25-45 year old males watching between 2000-2200 hours for the week of whatever. Now, given that TAM possibly has one or two people like that in its nationwide survey group, that viewer can change very dramatically - because he thinks X anchor has better boobs. Even funnier, no matter how CNBC and NDTV slice, dice and present the data, Headlines Today always seems to do well, which is really surprising given the absense of breasts (and the presence of funny accents on that channel), but I guess the product must be rather popular among some people.
Talking about TV Channels, Sabse Tez, ie : Aaj Tak is celebrating its tenth birthday this year, and the celebration party supposedly includes the starting up of some new channels from the TV Today stable. NDTV is also starting some new channels including an 'entertainment' channel that will have hours of 'Night Out'. Brilliant! I think World Wrestling Entertainment is more exciting. Whatever happened to Set-Top Boxes which would allow me to choose the channels that I want to watch? Instead I'm fed channels by a greedy cable operator who changes channels every two minutes. No wonder I surf the net so much. Blogs are more fun than watching TV, even on election day. If one of the newspapers wanted to, an election blog from Bihar would be great, off-the-cuff, to the minute stories with booth capturers etc, even put up videoes unfit for TV online. But, wait a sec, this is Bihar where telephone connectivity is bad enough in Patna, broadband internet might be a bit much to ask for. But you never know.
Anyway, I have to do some story on live bands in Delhi, so I should get back to work.