Monday 8 August 2022

Discussion on Media and Entrepreneurship in Digital Era


Discussion on Media and Entrepreneurship in Digital Era

The Unlock Series Opens Discussions on 

Entrepreneurship in the Digital Era

By  Dipti Kumar, Prem Shanker, Vinoth Poovalingam, Honorary Secretaries

On 7th August 2022, Digital Journalists Association of India (DiJAI) launched the Unlock Series, exploring topics of interest in the digital media era. The first of the series was a conversation on Entrepreneurship in the Digital Era with K.N. Arun, a professor of Media Studies at The Asian College of Journalism, Pratiba Raman, an independent digital journalist, Ramanathan Subramaniam, Head of Revenue and Product for The News Minute, and Vinoth Poovalingam, Founder of Hocalwire. The programme was moderated by Prem Shankar and Dipti Kumar, Honorary Secretaries of DiJAI. 

The audience for this discussion was a mix of mid-level career professionals looking to enter the entrepreneurial space in digital news media and seasoned journalists looking to startup. Over 60,000 startups are operational in India and while they are in different stages of development, the onus on digital news media startups is to identify audiences, create compelling content, and crack the delivery mechanisms to build a sustainable revenue stream. 

Several digital news media outlets like The News Minute, YourStory, The Better India, NewsLaundry, The Quint have emerged as a result of breaking away from the media conglomerates and forging a new, albeit tougher road to success. Tougher because audience selection is critical to content creation and dissemination. Breaking away from mainstream media outlets provides freedom to create, but also opens up doubts on resources to get good content that would drive engagement. Keeping a small team is not a bad idea. 

“Staying lean is extremely important,” said Ram, adding that it’s prudent to start “slow and small.” 

K.N. Arun helped ACJ construct the entrepreneurial journalism course to equip students in making it in the “business” of news. He reiterated that students are taught how to identify the “existing ecology and the gaps…then identify the audience gaps and know what content works.”

But the question remains- how do you know what content works?

Vinoth shared examples for tools from Google Analytics to trademarked data processing platforms to understand audience demographics, consumption patterns, underscoring the importance of investing wisely in the early days of an entrepreneurial venture. Technology is an equal player in the success of a business and with over 70 percent of web traffic to a website originating on either Google or Facebook, the relationship of technological investment to marketing success is a close one indeed. Using the right technology can serve as a marker to identifying audience personas. 

While independent news startups are cash strapped and will often dip into personal savings and or goodwill of supporters, the commercials of running a business is pegged on positive revenue. Despite donations or paywalls and exclusive offers, Pratiba highlighted that a subscription to an entertainment website or an e-commerce page happens more easily than news websites. She noted that the collective opinion among Gen Z is that news is unattractive. The realization marked an important step for her own entrepreneurial journey toward building Newssence, news posts published on Instagram. 

Revenue is a top priority and Pratiba highlighted the importance of partnerships to help grow revenue. Pratiba’s venture into independent consulting work has been a learning curve on understanding the dynamics of different partnerships and tapping into the specific areas of the client’s CTA to yield profits. 

Ram emphasized that engagement is the true metric to assess success of a startup. While page clicks, reach, and traffic are lucrative, the impact of those don’t necessarily transform to actual money in the bank. 

The four key takeaways for anyone looking to explore news media entrepreneurship would be:

Stay lean in your venture

Metrics matter- invest in technology 

Know your USP/audience- nail down the specific audience your venture will impact

You matter

The DIJAI team looks forward to bringing more such open discussions and expert opinions for the benefit of the Digital Journalism Community.

The full proceedings of this discussion can be watched at 

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