Monday, August 03, 2009

Emmy Nod

I apologize to everyone for staying mum for over a month! I was in DC, then back in NY, then London, and now Delhi. Some work, some holiday. In the middle of it all, I kept writing in my head, but somehow none of it made its way to my blog.

Then I got terrific news! The Mumbai Terror Attack stories I worked on for PBS (remember?) have been nominated for an Emmy. We are up against CBS and NBC, but I hope we win! How exciting is that!

Also, one of the main reasons I didn't write was because more than focus on the news, I was attempting to wrap my head around the future on journalism. When I went to meet my friends at the PBS World Focus studios, it was very sad to find that programming budgets were being cut sharply, with more focus on studio discussions. Even my friends at the NewsHour (PBS) complained of budgetary concerns. But, we all knew that. The question is, what is next?

What has hit America, and will take a much longer time to come to India, is dealing with the online world and the trap of free content. Because people are used to getting things free online, it is becoming difficult for news organizations to charge for content. I mean, we pay for cable. We pay for internet services. So what about individual websites? Well, I think, and people agree that certain established brands can charge for a premium service (as many do -- WSJ, Economist) and the customers will follow. The new thinking about online content (even if it is newspapers) is, give some content free and charge for the rest.

But there is an separate problem: too much content. In this case, something like "youtube" can serve as an example. Before a CNN can break a story, it is up on youtube. So what happens? CNN will slowly start showing youtube content on TV. CNN International already does, although it often says it cannot verify the source. So, do we need an "editorial" filter which is not necessarily a news channel but a media organization? Someone who can make sense of all this information and then give it to a news organization or let it remain floating on youtube?

I am strongly considering working with an NGO that uses the media to empower people, but at the same time I also want to look into the challenges new media poses for us. Do you know of any organizations that deal with these issues in India? I am not sure doing straightforward journalism is as rewarding for me, or perhaps its because I can't find a job! Who knows!

But anyway, I came to say hi and to give you the great Emmy news!