Media companies on the other hand don’t. And this led to serious issues during the MumbaiAttacks in November where several sites collapsed under the stress. But is changing and spending massive sums of money for the internet worth it? That question is being answered in very strange ways by different organizations and a couple of them are saying, ‘You know what, it isn’t!’
What does not help is that traditional reporters, including yours truly, don’t really want to contribute over and above for online editions. The argument being that our jobs are stressful enough before you add the web to the mix. The honest reason being that most reporters are seriously lazy, heck you see that in the rampant ‘stealing’ that takes place every day, so much so that using the internet to find a story and then rewriting it has become par for the course. Attribution and acknowledgement have become dirty words. I’m a features writer, so believe me I know the pain of seeing data and facts you dig up stolen by imbeciles. But like Indian highways, all you can do is shrug your shoulders and move on and hope that sooner or later things change.
So, back to my point, there is still a severe shortage of genuine and good online content in India. Most news sites carry the same Press Trust of India rehash, and some sites prioritize story A over story B. Which, given PTI’s habit to hyperbole and claiming things that might or might not have happened is usually entertaining. Blogs are just blogs, opinionated examples of bad writing, and I would put myself in that bracket as well. I don’t really think too hard when stringing together paragraphs here, and only do so when I have the time away from talking about technology.
But technology is moving towards more and more access devices but access to what is the question? There ain’t that much to see online in India. Yes, there are some really cool blogs and sites, but nowhere enough content to satisfy a content whore such as me. And then again, far too many of them are discussing the rights and wrongs of what was discussed in India, so you have a situation where people are stringing together half-truths to debate the half-truths broadcast and printed in the mainstream.
The mainstream, where if reporters wanted, genuinely good web content can be created doesn’t really give a shit. Heck, on counting day both HT’s and ToI’s websites were far, far behind the channels. Updates from reporters were slow in coming and there was still far too much of sameness, too much PTI.
And then you have the features magazines, where there is decent content but no clear direction on ‘how to’ monetize that content. Putting everything up on the internet really doesn’t seem to solve the problems, instead it creates some that didn’t exist before. But, I do believe that features writers can take a lead on news writers when it comes to the web, because so much more work is going into the story. There are so many pictures that are not used, so many quotes not used and so much more than the 4,000 words that were written. Heck, equip everyone with a Nseries phone or suchlike and put A/V content based around the story. Think out of the box, Fortune is.
You know the biggest problem with the media internet in India. A lack of people. It is the same group of idiots who hop, skip and jump from one group to another. There has been little in the way of fresh thinking or communicating to the core assets. Internet newsrooms don’t work, your core assets are still the main reporters – get them to contribute – make web reportage part of the job.