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New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) India is in crisis mode as the country struggles to find new news and information to report on.
It is also facing an acute shortage of new digital platforms for news and entertainment.
Ajay Shah, who is the Managing Director at NewsNation, a portal for news across the country, says there is no shortage of news in the country and the internet has been providing it to people for quite some time.
He said there is an urgency to find a new platform to report the news in India.
“We are trying to find the right platform for the news we have.
In the last year, we have had a few platforms in place, and these platforms have been trying to catch up to our demand for news,” Shah said.
He added, “But the news you get from a website doesn’t necessarily reflect the news that is actually going to be reported.”
Shah added that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the internet is still quite new in India and the platform that most people use to report news is the Facebook News Feed.
“Facebook has been a huge force in India for the last few years, but we have been struggling to get a handle on it,” Shah added.
“We need a platform that is very open and can deliver the news to the masses.”
Shia-majority countryIndia’s largest news outlet has been losing subscribers over the past two years and is now struggling to survive.
NewsNation, which provides news and social media content to users across the globe, has seen a drop in visitors since its inception in 2015.
It was last updated in May 2016, when the company’s website was in the process of being privatised.
“Our business model is not viable and our financials are down, so we are going to have to look for other funding sources,” Shah admitted.
“But I think there is a lot of urgency in our country to find an alternative platform.”
Shiites in the Muslim-majority region of Pakistan are one of the biggest users of the Facebook news feed in India, which also includes Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The country has seen an explosion in the use of mobile phones in recent years, with an estimated 40% of the population using the service in the last three years, according to data from the World Bank.
Shah said that a recent announcement from the Indian government that it was introducing a ban on the sale of mobile phone SIM cards in India was a good start.
“This is a step in the right direction,” he said.
“I think that is a good thing because there is some uncertainty around the country.
It makes it a lot easier for news to come to people who may not have access to it otherwise.”
Shayab Hussain, an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), said the news and data coming out of India is mostly filtered through a narrow network of news sites, known as the “media mafia” in India because of their ability to cover every aspect of the news.
“You need a broad and diverse coverage,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The content of news websites are also filtered through these media sites.”
He said the government had also introduced measures to improve filtering, such as a ban in January on social media sites including Twitter and WhatsApp.
“There is a fear of filtering because these sites are really the source of the content that is going out,” Hussain said.
But there is also a lot that the government can do, including creating a new regulatory body that would be able to oversee the media industry in India to ensure that its services are not misused.
Shaikh Shamsuddin, a senior fellow at the Centre for Research and Development Policy (CRDP), a think-tank, said the focus on content filtering was a misguided approach.
“The focus on filter is not going to help us achieve any real change in the way that news is produced,” he explained.
“It is a distraction.
The real problem is the lack of transparency.
We need to understand the role of the media in India.”
The CRDP has suggested a number of changes that would allow Indian newsrooms to be more open and accountable to their readers.
Such a move would also allow Indian websites to attract more foreign readers, which would also help to combat the decline in revenue that has been seen in other parts of the world, such the United States.
Shamuddin said the biggest obstacle to better reporting is the fact the news has become so fragmented across multiple news sites and services that there is little in the news about what is going on in the Indian media landscape.
“What is really happening in the media landscape is that there are so many different news channels that all share the same basic news content,” he added.
“When you see what’s happening in India on a daily basis, you are not only seeing that there has been consolidation, but that there have been multiple and often competing news channels,” he concluded