“Our core job as a media organization has to be to hold the institutions that are in power, accountable.”
On Wednesday, the second-year students were fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Mr. Kabir Upmanyu on how digital news platforms track and cover breaking news. Having completed his BA in History at St. Stephen’s College, he pursued a post-graduate degree in Mass Communication from SIMC. This propelled him into a life of journalism and in 2017, he started his journey at the Quint, a prominent digital news platform, where he is currently an assistant news editor.
He taught the students about the essential tools that a digital media platform uses to keep track of news. Mr. Upmanyu introduced us to Tweet Deck, an interface that displayed multiple users’ feeds so that they can be viewed at the same time. He explained that since Digital News platforms usually have limited writers, they subscribe to news wire agencies; large organisations that have a huge network of reporters (Press Trust of India, Asian News International, The Associate Press, etc.) that do the primary news reporting, and constantly checking their Twitter for live news updates.
Mr. Kabir also spoke about the importance of selecting the right stories to report, demonstrating how timeliness, relevance, scale, and impact are the units we use to measure the importance of a story. One should always pick a story which one thinks would cater to their readers’ taste. For instance, digital news platforms have a national audience thus local stories would not appeal to such readers. As writers, he said, we have to choose stories that will make an impact, emphasising the importance of producing stories that are geared to change something or bring out the truth. He believes that news platforms have a responsibility to hold people and organisations in authority accountable. It is the platform’s job to highlight the holes and gaps in a story and serve as a check against power.
Apart from teaching us how to track and recognise interesting news, Mr. Kabir Upmanyu also taught us about writing in an online space. To determine the value of a television segment, the audience has to watch a bit before they change the channel. Newspapers allow readers to choose what they want to read. However, on a digital platform, the audience has a lot more choice and a short attention span. To balance the editorial style and keyword requirements within a headline, is an art.
The duration people are reading for, matters more than how many people are reading, explained Mr. Kabir. More than one minute of engagement is an achievement. To increase engagement, digital news platforms take advantage of their multimedia space by using images, videos, graphs, and maps. The aim is to simplify complicated news and exploring multimedia elements can make a story standout from the rest.
Mr. Kabir Upmanyu’s detailed explanation of the multiple aspects to covering news successfully on digital platforms was highly insightful and helpful. The students learned a lot about the multiple ways to keep readers engrossed and Mr Upmanyu delivered a unique perspective on fast paced digital news world.