Digital engenders alternate news channels

Technology-enabled alternate media

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Madhu Trehan, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Newslaundry at the Media Rumble in Delhi
Madhu Trehan, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Newslaundry at the Media Rumble in Delhi

Digital alternate news media has gained significantly from the Covid-19 pandemic. Here we are reproducing an article that was alive to this reality long ago, and first published by us on 24 August 2018. – Editor

India’s newspaper market is one of the largest in the world. The average circulation of dailies sky-rocketed from 109.9 million copies per day in 2009 to 130.6 million in 2013, and is expected to rise to 161.6 million copies in 2018, according to a report by PWC. ABC circulations have also shown 5% CAGR increase over the past ten years.

However, with the rise of disposable income and penetration of high-speed internet, internet users have replaced computers with smarter mobile phones. This has presented an opportunity for greenfield internet based news and video channels that do not have the paper, print and distribution costs of the legacy media. The ‘alternate’ media offer news and entertainment on-the-go via mobile phones on a broader platform questioning the relevance of traditional media in today’s times.

Innovation in both text and video story-telling coupled with additional reader engagement, largely propelled by social media and personalization, is luring readers to digital-only news media. The new technology (cell phone based video clips) and social ecosystem are providing the opportunity to create, curate and publish without having to use ink on paper. The new platforms, which include local aggregators, can be either content or tech led and some have support from Indian and global non-profit foundations.

Scroll (scroll.in) – Run by US-based digital publishing company Scroll Media Inc. and founded in 2012 by Samir Patil (chief executive officer), Scroll.in is an independent website that covers news, politics, sports, culture and everything in between.

The Quint (thequint.com) – An Indian news website founded by Raghav Behl and Ritu Kapoor. The Quint is a news website that covers everything ranging from politics, sports, bollywood, tech, business, and entertainment.

Newslaundry (newslaundry.com) – An independent news media and critique platform, Newslaundry shares its ‘criticles’ and opinions on varied topics ranging from politics to current affairs.

Factly (factly.in) – Started by a group of friends to ‘make public data meaningful to the common man,’ Factly shares stories that dig into and use government data.

The Wire (thewire.in) – The Wire was established by a non-profit organization, Foundation for Independent Journalism (FIJ), in 2015 by editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, and MK Venu. It is a news website that covers a wide range of subjects such as politics, foreign policy, political economy, science and development.

Dailyhunt (dailyhunt.in) – Earlier called Newshunt, Dailyhunt was founded by Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni in 2009. According to techinasia.com, it is believed to be one of the world’s top mobile applications for news with 22 million users and 30 billion page views per month.

Inshorts (inshorts.com) – An innovative news platform, Inshorts is a website that summarizes news in 60 words or less on various topics such as business, sports, technology, India, world and entertainment. Established by three IIT dropouts Azhar Iqubal, Deepit Purkayastha and Anunay Arunav, the wesbite also comes in the form of mobile application for busy readers.

NewsBits (newsbits.in) – NewsBits is an online English news multimedia platform that provides news with a special focus on Central India, viz. Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Vidarbha. The website covers news on nation, state, politics, crime and heritage.

Jantakareporter (jantakareporter.com) – Jantakareporter is an independent news website that covers topics like business, politics, world, sports, entertainment, tech and gadget. The website was launched by Rifat Jawaid, a former BBC editor for 12 years and ex-managing editor of India Today Group’s TV Newsgathering.

The Ken (the-ken.com) – An Indian business news website based out of Bengaluru, The Ken was founded in 2016 as a premium subscription-based platform that publishes one article per day.

Kafila (kafila.online) – A news and media blog, Kafila deals with issues of contemporary world. It is a collaborative effort of radical political and media critique by scholars, activists, writers and journalists to produce radical news content.

100 Reporters (100r.org) – A journalism website, 100 Reporters was co-founded by Diana Jean Schemo and Philip Shenon, former correspondents for the New York Times. The news website covers topics such as business, corruption, education, environment, politics, and more.

Alt News (altnews.in) – Alt News is a fact-checking website found in 2017 and run by former software engineer Pratik Sinha. The independent website provides news in areas such as politics, science, society, education, and religion and depends on grants and donations.

Indian Spectator (indianspectator.com) – An alternate media platform, Indian Spectator was found in 2016 and covers stories on politics, policy, governance, sports and technology. The website provides unbiased truth and reality “to shape a better India.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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