Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The second coming…
…of News over the Internet? Well, it certainly seems like it. Apparently, two of the most prestigious news providers in the US — Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones and the publishers of The New York Times — are turning to their Internet ventures to shore up sliding profits, hit by shrinking print ad spends. Interestingly, in this quarter, Dow Jones's online operations for the first time earned more money than the flagship Wall Street Journal and Barron's, the weekly financial magazine. New York Times, on its part, said it was optimistic about About.com, an site it acquired this year.
But, perhaps the biggest endorsement has come from the man who epitomizes the term media moghul -- Rupert Murdoch. Last week, he reportedly told newspaper editors that they cannot afford to ignore the growing popularity of the Internet and suggested some had been too slow to offer "compelling and relevant" content online.
Having been closely associated with online journalism for the greater part of my career, I for one will be standing on the sidelines cheering for a comeback. Yes, I was one of the early converts to this medium. Long before, D-O-T-C-O-M became synonymous with six-figure salaries. When I joined the online section of one of India’s biggest national daily, my then boss cautioned: if this clicks, the sky is the limit, if it doesn’t you may have to take a serious relook at your career prospects. As it turned out, he was partly right. By that time, I had moved on to a national news channel that was testing the waters of the worldwide web. It was challenging to try and build a news website from scratch. However, in all that time I was waiting for the BIG OFFER. There were some, but then I couldn’t bring myself to take the leap of faith. Pluckier colleagues, who waded into big bucks, evoked envy. However, on hindsight it seems discretion was indeed the better part of valour. Next stop: The online venture of one of the country’s most popular weekly news magazine. Here, for the first time, I felt I had arrived as an online journalist. No, they were not paying me big bucks, but it was exciting work. Whatsmore, you had all the resources at your disposal for meeting the dictates of the new medium. It was the Golden Age of Net News (that was what I thought and being part of a great team fanned the feeling). But, it was a short-lived affair. Suddenly, the imperative of making money superseded that of creating compelling content. Result: The site folded up leaving a number of colleagues without a job. That was it. It was then that I decided to kiss my HTML codes goodbye.
Later, blogs happened. And as they slowly started to make their presence felt as an alternative source of news, I silently cheered.
Though I am keeping my fingers crossed for now, for me a Return to E-nnocence seems no more possible.

Comments:
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