Often one of the first sources to be found reporting breaking stories on Google News, India Today’s remit spans far beyond India and the diaspora market. With content covering everything from Beyoncé to climate change, it is a truly global platform with a firm focus on quality journalism and current affairs. As the global media industry experiences increasing degrees of convergence, India Today has been quick to embrace a multi-channel approach to modern publishing.
Here in this exclusive video interview for FIPP, Loveena Tandon, UK and Europe correspondent for India Today, introduces us to the brand:
“I work more for the television side, and in India alone we have close to 40 million [viewers],” says Tandon. “In the UK, we are available on Sky channel 818, and most weeks we do top the list amongst the diaspora channels. Our group gives us the opportunity to do a lot of different things. It’s a horizontal platform where you could be a broadcast journalist who is writing for web as well, or you could have your stories published in their magazines, and they like you to have a Twitter presence, and a social media presence is encouraged. In fact one of the questions in our appraisals is ‘what kind of social media following do you have?’ And you could be developing yourself as a journalist who writes books. So all of that is inclusive within our roles, and it can be different things that different people are able to do, but they do provide that kind of platform or plethora of opportunities.”
“I have worked for the India Today Group, mainly in television, for a very long time – close to a decade now between India and the UK. And I’ve seen the things that change within the organisation are also reflective of the changes going on in the wider world, and particularly what we see is that there is just more and more merging of platforms. Because news is just so multi-platform that you have to be well versed, from radio to television to writing, and that will give you a push in your career I feel. So yes, now we have an office that is merged we have a whole big team, and you can pool in talent from each side.”
How has the editorial side of the industry changed in recent years and what are some of the key advantages of digital?
“I’ll speak for myself: you see newspaper or television, you do a show, you do news, it comes and it goes. For us, digital provides us with a platform to make it ‘forever’, if you like. Because video didn’t have that kind of shelf life, but now it has a very strong shelf life when it comes. Especially as opposed to print, and now even print has become digital. And so that’s the plus point – in all of my shows that I do, a lot of my news, a lot of the channel has a huge digital presence from Facebook Live to YouTube channels, to Twitter, etc., and so this is the plus point of course.”
“But when you think of journalism today, everyone I think is a journalist – and they can be through their Twitter, through their opinion. It is just to use it intelligently and to pick and choose it. So it does provide us with a challenge, but it’s a challenge which I think we should lap up, and there is no option not to!”
In an age of fake news and ‘alternative facts’ is it now more important than ever before that we have quality journalism?
“Amazingly, and I’ll give you an example: we just recently did a case, which was a very important case for us, and while we were on the way to the courtroom we already had that particular person. From his Twitter feed, we saw that he’d got a verdict – he’s been bailed out or whatever – and most of the channels started reporting that news. It turned out that some guy had faked his account, his picture, and come up with that.”
“So you have to be extremely careful, especially for journalists like us who are really running against time, when it’s breaking news time, when there are blast situations, all the attacks that have happened. For anything that’s breaking news, for us developing a story, checking your source and being right is the first priority I would give – minimum two to three sources, and correct sources.”
“And also, it’s very challenging for us to Google everything, Wikipedia everything, and then click on the link to find out more information… because then, what is the source of that link? It does need some kind of labour if you want to be accurate. And I think accuracy is extremely important. At least that’s the difference that we bring as journalists as opposed to just citizen journalists, which I really value, because they give us a lot of information, whether it’s Parsons Green attack, Charlie Hebdo attack, people who are witnesses on the ground they give us a lot of insight into it, but then we have to have some responsibility.”
Finally, we asked Loveena to give us her insights into what she felt would be some of the most important media-tech trends to emerge in 2018…
“I think algorithms, and using robots to to do things, from this to the driverless cars I think this kind of techie world is a challenge which I think will be able to defeat, but let’s see where we go with that. That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to. More platforms, social media platforms, and to get more accustomed with it – I don’t know what is coming next, but we just have to lap it up. We just have to be somehow ready. And it’s like a constantly fast developing story, this world of media has just developed so much from a big camera, to a medium camera to an iPhone, I think we have come a very long way – and there’s a long way still to go, so just be ready for it!”
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