Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why Doesn’t The Indian Media Blog More?

If you live in India and have been using the internet since we had access to it (circa the 90’s), blogs and blogging might seem like old hat! Experimenting with blogspot or wordpress, you must have, at some point, spilled your guts to an indifferent blogosphere, the details of a failed romance or inflicted your friends with fiendish poetry. But seeing how popular blogs are as a means of communicating news and views, it’s funny to see how the Indian media hasn’t quite taken to it.

Every newspaper in India has probably seen the success of the NY Times’ blog site. From the The Lede, ArtsBeat and At War, the blogs are rich and diverse in content; frequently updated, with a lot of events being live-blogged. The blogs generate massive page views and feedback for the site.

Thanks to the Times’ online success, India’s largest newspapers and TV channels now have a prominent “Blogs” section on their websites: The Times of India (TOI), Hindustan Times, CNN IBN,Mint, DNA and NDTV all have their “bloggers.”

However, except for the blogs at Times Of India and Mint, the story seems the same everywhere: blog sections are started with great fanfare; lots of noise is made about how that particular channel/newspaper is “connecting with the youth” and the phrase “web 2.0” is tossed around. But, within a few months, all is forgotten.

For example, on the Hindustan Times’ blogs page, everyone seems to be posting exactly once a week. Coincidence? Most definitely not: some poor intern down the line must’ve been assigned the task of putting up their weekly op-ed for print, onto the blog. How does that even qualify as blogging?

CNN IBN is pretty much the same story: opinion pieces written for print are picked up and put on the blogs page, and that too quite irregularly. and Mint’s blog sites have some excellent and rich opinion pieces – but still lack the live updation and frequency that might draw television news viewers to news sites on the internet.

Compare this to the NY Times’ blog page: daily multiple updates on virtually every blog, and very different content from what is seen in print. In fact, it’s easy to spend hours a day just reading updates to the blogs.

Even Time magazine is known for its rich online-only content: The Page and Swampland are two of the best sources of information on the white house.

It is time that Indian media empires understand that the internet is not a broadcast medium like television or print, but an excellent means of offering more value and interacting with readers.

Disclaimer: I used to work for The Times of India.

Cross-posted at

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