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!


The Dude said...

Interesting dilemma... and no easy answer either.. hmm, explains a few things..

But anyhow, till a solution is at hand - congrats on the nod, well done!

Roy said...

congrats are in order!

egg style said...

Hey, Congrats on the Emmy! Excellent news!

On media fragmentation and net-led outlet proliferation, guess it is finally a real challenge now to gain a voice that may be heard above the deafening din. One would like to believe that this creates a more open market that rewards true originality, while punishing those pushing prejudiced views with blatant disregard for fact (sadly "poetic licence" can degenerate into becoming a cover for insidious propaganda--example being the bigbrush tarring of relatively voiceless groups for their perceived belief systems on assumed/madeup evidence). But if larger audiences remain undiscerning (too much noise), the need for sound editorial judgment becomes even more sharp.

An open market is indeed good news for professionals. In fact, this being so, intelligent and discerning audiences should be willing to pay a premium for good content that has been 'filtered' as you say by trustworthy minds (in an intellectual sense, not social).

Unsure of any organisation doing such analysis. But the media mess has also meant that entering the field securely demands the crafting of a well thought out entry route (specialisation of some sort that's hard to copy).

IR said...

congrats on the emmy , are you invited to attend the ceromony ?

on the free content issue , i think if news / publication are out to earn their profit over online subscription then this model will fail , they must look to earn revenues only from online ads just as the real revene for newspapaers and magzines is from ads , and sale price is really nominal.

the internet is a medium that can reach billions and the cost is laughable , your blog can be read by millions every day ( or your new blog ) what is your cost ? only the internet connection !

Vivek Chaudhary said...

Given your experience and mention of how CNN International uses online content, you may already know this, but just in case you don't, check out CNN's iReport feature:

mahima said...

Thanks Vivek, I do know of them!

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