Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Business of News

Here's an interesting piece of original research by me! Sitting in Toronto during the final months of my MBA, while glancing through Indian Newspaper sites, a thought crossed my mind - Where does all the news come from ?

So I decided to do a little research on 7 newspapers from India who have an online presence. The idea was to try and determine the source of the news - for instance PTI (Press Trust of India) , AP (Associated Press), Reuters etc. For the purpose of this research I purposefully did not include Television based news sites (as I really discount the quality of reporting on non business Indian News Channels)and I focussed this study on non financial newspapers only. This research was conducted on 1st Mar 2011 at about 1.30 pm IST.

I did consider three more papers - The Statesman, The Telegraph and The Tribune but I decided not to include them in this research. The main reason why I chose not to include them was because of the fact that they either do not do justice to the online format by trying to replicate the print news as is on the web (no, I am not referring to the ePaper versions) or they simply have a horrific site design.

For once, I am not going to include my viewpoints on the outcome of the research and I would like to invite you to comment on it. I am expecting that this post would generate different viewpoints and thats the reason why I do not want to channelize those thoughts by providing mine upfront.

A request - if you do quote this anywhere, please mention the author's name!


Esha said...


Interesting spot of research...perhaps something that the news agencies would want to consider themselves.

I myself prefer the TOI as a read, because the material seems to be better written and perhaps, now after you study, I am inclined to believe that I won't see the same article in 20 different places at once. I am a bit peeved lately given the number of ads on TOI though.

It also starts begging the question as to what 'real journalism' and what online newspapers really are. From your research, it seems like most of them are simply channeling stories after subsribing to various sources (some like the Hindu and the Decann Chronicle, it seems, to very few sources) and have little input from their own journalists. Why don't we just access news at the PTI website then rather than reading the Hindu?

Adi, this would be an interesting lookout for a few nights in a row - may I suggest for 2 weeks or a month perhaps and track a pattern? Also, it'll be interesting to see which news stories or domains are tracked from which sources (i.e do all or most Indian politics stories tend to come from PTI, all or most International events from Reuters, etc).

Aditya Saraogi said...

I agree Esha, it would make sense to track patterns. In fact, I had planned to do a follow up with a report on the Financial newspapers in the country...I am considering
1. The Economic Times
2. Business Line
3. The Financial Express
4. Business Standard

Any suggestions?

Interestingly Times of India is regularly derided by the literary folks as it is considered an increasingly commercial newspaper, but to my point at least they are doing their own work instead of pimping news.

I can actually compare the newspaper business with the mobile industry where the actual infrastructure is managed by a third party while marketing and customer service are the real functions handled by the likes of Vodafone and Airtel.

Esha said...

Hey Adi,

This is Riddhi actually. My pet name is Esha (good ol' Bengali style) but using that makes it tougher to identify me. Sorry about that!
In response to your post, I think I would've zoomed in on the 4 financial newspapers you've done. However, perhaps the generic newpapers are more interesting for purposes of this analysis given that they report a variety of news, without focusing a specific segment. As I mentioned previously, that gives an opportunity to relate different domains to news sources. It is also a shame that the Statesman does not qualify for this research. I would've loved to see how it compares.
I am not sure as to your point about the mobile segment - can you familiarise me more with regards to that?

Aditya Saraogi said...

When I think about the mobile business, I think about technology and infrastructure and I would assume that this would be the main business of Mobile Service providers.

This however is not the case. Take a look at Virgin Mobile in Canada. It is riding on the infrastructure on Bell (the cell towers) and all it is doing is marketing it to customers with data plans and gimmicky advertising and I almost forgot, customer service.

This is pretty much the case in India as well. When the mobile business started in India, every one started racing to setup their own cell towers, trying to provide maximum coverage. Towards the end, cities ran out of buildings to host cell towers which did not make sense as each tower had a lot of unused capacity. So, what happened ?

Take the case of Indus Towers - This infrastructure company was formed by the pooling of infrastructure resources from three companies - Vodafone, Airtel and Idea. So what this company basically does is that it manages the cell towers for the companies while the companies focus on the core business of attracting customers based on ad campaigns and perception of quality / customer service.