Reimagining the News

IpsitaAgarwalToday, Podium shines the spotlight on Ipsita Agarwal. Founder of Synopted News – an online newsroom where publishers & marketers create content, Ipsita started her writing career for a national daily, The Times of India, as a student journalist and also did her internship for the same in 2008. Singapore based Ipsita also worked with Label Magazine as Deputy Editor. We feature her post on Medium where she talks about reimagining news products and services for the modern reader.

The news industry has changed more in the last decade than it did in the centuries since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1436. The business model from the print age has been copy-pasted to digital and found lacking. Now, publishers are left with two options: become content writers for third party platforms, or reimagine the news products and services for readers of today. This is a newbie’s take on what option two could look like.

Where we stand
When I started a news company in 2013, it was common knowledge that the baton had been passed on from print to digital.
Technology was probably the biggest driver for change in news at the time. Legacy publishers raced to become responsive, while new entrants experimented with content and monetisation formats with varying degrees of success.

Today, the most startling change in news isn’t in the tech that supports it, but in its distribution. More and more power has been pried from the hands of publishers and put into platforms like Facebook, Apple and Google.

Compare the user experience on a news publisher and a platform such as Facebook. One has been designed to serve the same commodity, information, to an unknown mass of people, disregarding the differences in their prior knowledge, reading habits and interests. The other is designed to mould to the needs of a specific person by learning their behaviour and likes over time.

Platforms cater to individuals. Publishers broadcast to a mass audience.

It can’t come as a surprise to anyone if readers prefer the experience on platforms over publishers. It can be frightening though, and for good reason. Publishers are left at the mercy of the platforms that are friendly and accepting of publishers’ monetisation strategies today, but may not be tomorrow. Publishers run the risk of being reduced to content creators, diminishing their editorial responsibility and independence as journalists in the process.

That leaves publishers, new entrants and legacy brands alike, with two options: continue on the way things are going now. Or learn to think not as publishers, but designers of news experiences suited to the readers of today.

The transition from a “mass” media to “one-on-one” journalism is probably the biggest publishers will make, and it starts with some customer research.

Back to the basics
shutterstock_110606108Elon Musk recently popularized the idea of “first principles”. The technique of stripping a problem “down to the most fundamental truths, and then reason up from there” isn’t new, it traces its roots all the way back to Aristotle.

In this technique, you take a complex problem, remove existing assumptions about it, and focus on its core concept. This way, instead of saying “we should do x this way because it’s always been done like that in the past”, we think about the problem “x” was trying to solve in the first place.

In the case of online publishing, perhaps start by questioning the purpose of journalism itself.

Read the full article on Medium here.

Twitter Townhall

ChaiTime-Image02.02.16The Advertising Club (TAC) and Twitter India in partnership are all set to launch their digital initiativeTwitter Townhall’ on 12th February, 2016. Aimed at facilitating inspiring interactions with industry leaders for young minds, this virtual Twitter Townhall will boost the growth of digital India. TAC with their twitter handle @TheAdClub_India will invite questions on a pre-decided time. Shortlisted questions will be answered by the business leaders every Friday. » Radio City Lucknow has associated itself with the Lucknow Mahotsav which started on 27th January 2016 and will continue till 7th February 2016 at Regional Park, Ashiana, Lucknow. Adding a spark to the celebrations Radio City, through its mobile studio, plans to reach out to their listeners with their evening show which goes live from the venue. » Google has beat Apple to become the world’s most valuable listed company. The company announced a rise of 13% in its global revenue and a fall in group’s tax rate to just 17%.

Packaged Air for Sale

ChaiTime-Image18.12.jpgA news report so bizarre you won’t believe it’s true. A Canadian start-up company is selling bottled fresh air in China, and people are actually buying it!! Vitality Air has been selling 7.7 litre cans of crisp air taken from Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains range for roughly 100 yuan (1000 INR), which is 50 times more expensive than a bottle of mineral water. The news is a travesty of the rising pollution levels in China. So far the company has sold 5000 crates of bottles to China, with more orders in the pipeline. » Topsy Labs, a Twitter Analytics Company by Apple Inc has announced a shutdown of operations. Topsy specialized in analyzing Twitter data and was acquired by Apple in December 2013 for over $200 Mn. The Android move has prompted an outcry from several users, many of them taking to twitter to express their dismal. The website for the platform,, currently directs users to an Apple support page. »  Mobile News app Inshorts has been included by Google in its list of 50 Best Apps of India, along with the likes of Whatsapp, Twitter, Skype, TrueCaller, Gaana & others. Inshorts, which serves curated important news items of the day in 60 words, has witnessed exponential growth in 2015 & brags 3million+ downloads so far. The app currently available at  Android / iOS, was founded in 2013 by a trio of IITians – Azhar Iqubal, Anunay Arunav and Deepit Purkayastha.

A Super Hero Indeed

ChaiTime-Image14.12A journalist who also fights crime? Multi-award winning Nigerian columnist Adeola Akinremi has launched a mobile-friendly web application ‘’ as a solution to the crime wave in the country. The web app urges public to report their daily encounters with crime situations, empowering them to become active participants in community policing and help law enforcement agents. A proverbial superhero in its truest sense! » Low-cost handset maker Datawind yesterday announced the launch of a 4G supported handset early next year for about Rs. 3,000. CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said that they will also offer free Internet browsing for 12 months on the device, but no free downloads. Asked if offering free Internet violates the principle of net neutrality, Tuli said no because Datawind will not discriminate among websites & make money through advertisements alone. » Apple has revealed that they are in between a pending patent request for weatherproof devices. Filed back in June 2014, the patent paperwork centers on a “self-healing elastomer” or rubber that can lose and regain its shape to keep the sensitive inner-workings of a device protected. While Apple’s patent request doesn’t necessarily mean users will get a fully water-resistant device any time soon, it has got many fanboys excited.

Author 1 : Authority 0

kanza-javedDenied visa could not stop Pakistani author Kanza Javed from launching her book ‘Ashes, Wine and Dust’ in India. The author, due to attend the Kumaon Lit Fest for the launch of her book, coordinated with her publisher Aanchal Malhotra for a last-minute launch over Skype, after her visa request was rejected. » Taking a page out of Apple’s marketing book, Microsoft has launched a page for MacBook users that will facilitate a smooth migration to its recently launched laptop, the Surface Book. Microsoft has created quite a buzz with claims that its laptop is two times faster than Apple’s – a strategy Apple has been using for years. » Can Public Relations salvage broken trust? Taking an instance from the Maggi case study, PR news site- ‘Image Management’ gives an interesting take on how efficient PR can offer solutions in times of crisis.

May I Come In?

ChaiTime-Image15.10LinkedIn is overhauling over 2 million groups on its network, to root out spam messages & bring back engagement. Groups will now be created private by default to ensure the content isn’t indexed by search engines, and all members will need to be vouched for to gain admission. A standalone iOS app for Groups has also been announced.  » Facebook is testing a dedicated video hub for users to watch and share videos relevant to them, all within the platform. The video hub will have saved-for-later videos and videos from friends, Pages one follows, and other publishers on Facebook. » Agitated by Vodafone’s perennial network issues and call drops, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, personally met with CEO Vittorio Colao and gave him a piece of his mind. Jaitley did not mince words when he said he felt like he had been “transported back to the pre-mobile days of 1995”. Colao later said operating conditions and lack of availability of spectrum were the main causes of the problem.

Pioneering The Future

ChaiTime13.10Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has shortlisted ten technology-focused start-ups to partner with. Start-ups will get access to part of HUL’s business, mentors and other resources whereas HUL stands to gain new technologies in order to disruptively engage with its consumers. » Uber has started ‘UberPool’, a ride sharing service which allows riders to share a trip with another passenger. The service, started in Bangalore, ensures a guaranteed discount rate of up to 35% of an average for the users. » Apple stores will soon make a debut in India in partnership with Croma. Croma will host Apple at Mumbai, Bangalore and four other locations as a pilot. » The technology industry sees its biggest deal with Dell signing a merger agreement with data storage company EMC Corp. The record-breaking deal is valued at a whopping $67 billion.