Columns
An Online Cry From Trivandrum
YENTHA EDITORIAL
On Jul 19, 2010

 

We all say change is inevitable, but when change really happens to our life, we either chicken out or find it a bitter pill to swallow.

Change unsettles a few thought patterns, some traditions and knocks down a few idols in the heart.

Any harbinger of change has to go through an initial phase of ridicule, rejection and retaliation.

Understood.

Yentha is no exception as it screams aloud the arrival of serious online journalism to Kerala.

Personally, I am a print journalist, and all my friends with whom I cut my journalistic teeth nearly two decades ago in newspapers still nurture the love for print as pure and sacrosanct as first love.

For years, newspapers and magazines have been part of our habit — even before the 24x7 news channels began to celebrate news as a carnival or a road-show.

Even though these are greenhorn days for us, Yentha stands for serious, no-nonsense journalism with no hues of party politics, and not being an iconoclast for the sake of it or for the kick of being the fad that it has become.

It is unfortunate that web-only news portals are yet to be recognized as part of media by the government of Kerala. We are not permitted into the Assembly because we are not ‘accredited’; we were not allowed to cover the recent visit of Indian vice-president to the city because we were not ‘accredited’; we cannot get into any port or meet any official at the airport because we are not ‘accredited’.

After all these years of working as a journalist abroad, covering some international events and writing innumerable stories and meeting many bigwigs, to be sneered at and shooed away by a nondescript security guard at the Secretariat building is not only a blow to one’s self-esteem but it also hurts and shows the state of online media in the state.

Works of web-only journalists are not considered when the government or an organisation honours or recognises media. It is only print, television and radio.

Hello, we want to announce the arrival of web-only journalism, which is not compilation or rehashing or ‘packaging’ of subscribed or otherwise agency or syndicate news and masala tidbits.

The online editions of the popular print and television media don’t have dedicated staff for their online editions. For them, it is reproducing their work on online platform.

But for web-only journalists, it is their exclusive platform of delivery.

We gather news. We ask questions at press conferences. We write stories. We do interviews. We edit copies. We proofread the stories. We design pages. We publish, albeit on an online platform. Our temperament and sensibilities are just like that of any ‘defined’ journalist. We are committed to our profession. We are committed to our society.

Moreover, web-only reporters even take photographs, and if need be, upload stories from wherever they are.

Now tell me, why are we treated like children of some lesser God?

Isn’t it your ignorance or understanding that times are changing? Is it not your fastidious, parochial attitude?

Globally, ‘online’ is no longer ‘new’. As a US columnist wrote some years ago: “Online is no longer new media. That's right. Online is no longer relegated to the role of the red-headed step child. It is no longer among the flowers in the attic, hidden from the neighbors and respected members of the community.”

I spoke to other journalists who are part of the web-only media. They feel the same righteous indignation as I do.

What pains more is that even the working journalists’ union has not put an arm around us as part of their community.

Why is it?

Are we any less in journalistic skills? I throw my hat in the ring. Can any traditional journalist prove that we are not welcomed to their group because we don’t know the stuff?  

When we approached the Press Club to send us their list of daily events, they refused as they don’t have a ‘provision’ to include online journalism in their ‘glorified’ scheme of things.

We are not asking for a share of any subsidised drink. We are asking for information that is supposed to be distributed to all. Every little newspaper in town has a pigeon hole at the Press Club, but not the online media.

If it isn’t discrimination, tell me what it is.

Change is happening everywhere else. Print editions are taking a back seat while the online editions are sitting pretty.

It will be interesting to take a look at the India Online Landscape Report 2010. According to the report, there are 51 million ‘active’ Internet users in India; of them 40 million are urban and 11 million rural.

The study finds out that Internet reaches 10 per cent Indian households. Of the users, 97 per cent are regulars and 79 per cent use daily. ‘South’ is the most net-savvy region, the study says.

In the US, according to a new comScore release, more than 123 million people visited newspaper sites in May alone, representing 57 per cent of the total US Internet audience.

Computers are yet to be a household item for us as it is in the US, but things are changing. And, that too, pretty fast.

It is time that web-only media are accredited in the state. When one of us discussed it with a high official in the government, he was told that no one had ever given a serious thought about it.

And, that makes one laugh.

We are spending millions of rupees to set up IT parks across the state to elevate us to number one position in Tier II segment, but the web-journalists are still languishing somewhere, crying out for attention.

Yentha is read by Malayalis all over the world. Our readership is growing by the day. We mean business. We mean positive, constructive journalism. We are not part of any sleazy game of muck and masala.

We are not asking for any favours from the powers that be, but our rights to perform our duty.

We only want to ask for understanding from the pedigree journalists who rule the roost and are the cocks of the walk in this defined space.

I still need my newspaper the first thing in the morning, and for my precious ‘time alone’ during my lavatorial exercise. It is not that old habits die hard, but keeping my netbook on the lap during that time can be messy and a tad clumsy!

But days are not far off when web-only journalism will be considered an integral part of our media culture.

Yes, change does upset a few things. But change has to happen.

sabin yentha
Sabin Iqbal

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can you just publish the average daily viewership of yentha
Roby, on Jul 19, 2010 03:07:35 PM
 
 
You spoke out what many of us have been wanting to say for a long, long time. When will everybody realise that the only thing that doesn't change in this world is change itself. Change is inevitable and the better you adopt to it, the better you'd feel with the rest of the world!
Ekanthapadhikan, on Jul 19, 2010 05:59:53 PM
 
 
There might be nuances in the reach of online journalism but to my belief today’s environment is much favourable for such a venture to make its mark. As we all are encapsulated in a more habitual way of accepting things the thought could be a true impulse for each aspiring journalist out there. It’s skeptical to make a statement that gradation and reach are directly proportionate, as a reader for me the content is more important than other parameters; rest is with the management to probe into, for example the web design to be appropriated with a SEO structure, advertisements, and so on.
Jose Davis, on Jul 19, 2010 07:56:30 PM
 
 
Though I was stung by the poison in your words, I thought you had a point. So I checked. First I called up the PRD. They said vaiga news and news@2pm, both online media, are already part of their media list. They said Yentha just had to apply. Have you? Then I asked the Press Club chaps. They have at least five online hacks as members. They say a media organisation - be it print, electronic or online - must register with them first to get their updates. Have you? As for having a presence at the airport when a VVIP touches down, currently only four dailies and three channels are in the Blue Book. Only those in the book are allowed, others are strictly kept out. Who's in and who's out of the book is a political decision. The party paper is in but a national daily is out. In short, it has got nothing to do with the kind of journalism practiced. Now that we are on the subject of journalism, editor sir I get the feeling that you have overestimated yourself. Yours is white collar journalism, the kind that never feels the heat and the dust. Your writers are fundamentally narcissists, gleefully preening themselves like models waiting to get on the ramp. The point is, you write for yourself. But sir, true journalism is selfless, it is cocky. Even then I have enjoyed your content. But today, reading your editorial, I felt bad for the first time. ``…to be sneered and shooed away by a nondescript security guard at the Secretariat…’’ You sounded like an elitist bore.
Subin Mehta, on Jul 19, 2010 09:11:39 PM
 
 
@Subin Mehta...thank you, sir!
Sabin Iqbal, on Jul 20, 2010 12:26:12 AM
 
 
News papers, chanels and radios are working under managements to control or divert the news in favour of them. All political parties had hold on media or ownership to controll it. However Internet sites and contents other than media will be available on searches. For eg. any body can search few words related with Natural Rubber which brings my site/blogs on results within the first page. Your attempt is precious one.
Keralafarmer, on Jul 20, 2010 06:06:53 AM
 
 
the WEEK magazine from mm group has a weak reputation for things english!!...it stands no way in comparison to outlook, frontline and india today....so an english media venture in kerala is bound to succeed!!!...i hav always felt that kerala despite its literacy levels has not been able to come out with path-breaking media work in the queen's language....so YENTAH is bound to succeed even if it is a print version.....u need a lil bit of upping of your web design...letz call it visual grammar!!!
Johnyx, on Jul 21, 2010 09:44:53 AM
 
 
Editor, Subin asked a lot of relevant questions. Why aren't you answering them? Was that "thank you" more of a "yes, I agree"? For the first time Subin made sense :-). Looks like he is a journalist! Are you Subin? ... Editor - waiting to hear from you.
Makemetrip, on Jul 21, 2010 09:54:51 AM
 
 
friend, don loose your heart..get accredited as soon as possible..for covering vice presidents events and all u need some kind of registration..they wont let you in so easily for such events..i used to stay near IMG office where VP had an event.many officials came to our home and checked the premises thoroughly with all kinds of security equipments..they started the this security check a week before his arrival and through out the week they continued the same..considering these we cannot assume that they will let someone in on one fine morning..and hehe..tht secretariat security haven't even heard of yentha.com..blame it on his ignorance..even then jus think about num of people at tvm who reads an online news portal..it is less..imagine the scene where you goes to a common man at tvm and sayin tht u are from yentha.com, obiviously he will ask in return "yentharu ?"..realise where you stand..it will take time to change..so by that time get ur basics done right, be more strong(don cry out like a child :-P)and be the change.. all the best.
Manu, on Jul 22, 2010 12:17:07 AM
 
 
Agree with you wholeheartedly.
Bhanu, on Jul 22, 2010 06:07:07 AM
 
 
Online media is the future for sure. It's just a matter of time that your cries will be heard. Try promoting online journalism as the greener alternative for our hunger for information and entertainment
Shameel, on Jul 23, 2010 10:42:34 PM
 
 
Whats wrong with you guys ? Sabin expressed a genuine issue. I think Team yentha u guys should post your daily hits to all these "advisory boards" who played with Qs. Have you guys know that Google listed Yentha in news section? And to be more precisely the kind of stories that these guys do is just amazing. At least they keep 5Ws and 1H and no sensations. Kerala yet to realize the relevance of online media. Wish you all best Team Yentha. The go getters .
Richy, on Jul 29, 2010 06:24:30 PM
 
 
All these guys who shoot Qs intend to serve as armchair quarterbacking. I feel pity
Richy, on Jul 29, 2010 06:31:41 PM
 
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