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Want to Know More About What's Happening in North East India? #3 Media Ventures Get You All Digital media is a product of rapidly advancing technology and tapping into this potential are numerous hyper-local media platforms from NE

By Baishali Mukherjee

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Gone are the days when the North East was under the grip of insurgency that ran its roots deep there. This deterred people and businesses from investing in the region.

Today technology is reaching every part of the country and the Northeast is no exception. Internet has made life easier for countless people in the region. Digital media is a product of this rapidly advancing technology and internet penetration.

Tapping into this potential are numerous hyper-local media platforms from NE. "The lack of news at the fingertips in the Northeast was one of the biggest issues and this led to the digital revolution through media companies," said Shoubhik Roy Choudhury, Founder of Voice of Greater Assam.

Manzar Alam, Founder of Arunachal24, Northeastindia24, Nesamachar, explained that residents of small towns and villages also want their news to feature in local media but communication problems prevent local newspapers from reaching them. "Digital media enables every major development from this region reach not only the remote parts of the Northeast, but also the national as well as the international audience with just a click," he enthused.

According to Mahmodul Hassan, Founder of The Assam News, NE-based news reports were often disregarded or got rarely covered in the national media. Launching of numerous news portals is the upshot of that gap. "Time has come for portals to provide a platform to the NE people through which they can raise their voice," asserted Hassan.

Making News a Tool for Social Change

While Alam's objective is to understand the plight of the less fortunate and observe the workings of the government up close, Hassan is meticulous about the factual issues that really matter. "We continue to put that extra effort to make our news impact as a progressive social change. We believe that news reports should be like – "No views, only news'," shared Hassan.

Roy Choudhury launched his media platform at a time when there was complete lack of digital news in this part of the country. He focuses more on the news at grass-roots level that is perpetually missed out even by the mainstream media of the region.

Hyper-local is Fast Gathering Steam

Hyper-local news is gradually becoming the focus of the entire media industry worldwide. The trend, according to Alam, is the reflection of the increasing demand from people living in remote places to voice their grievances regarding poor infrastructure, social and public health problems, to a wider audience.

For Roy Choudhury, hyper-local digital content is the need of the hour as more and more people are in search of what is happening in and around their specific area/region while they are constantly on the move due to the busy lifestyle.

Challenges are at Multiple Levels

Even with the surging of media platforms in the NE, the region continue to face challenges as the government still hasn't got a coherent policy regarding advertisements on digital media.

"Local businesses still can't comprehend the importance of digital media nor do they have enough fiscal resources to advertise. Larger corporations, based out of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangaluru, do have an interest in tapping the economic potential of this region but don't have the will to invest significantly in the region," lamented Alam.

Interestingly, Arunachal Pradesh state government has come up with a cohesive policy regarding digital media as CM Pema Khandu is very active on social media and regularly monitors all major digital media houses from the Northeast.

Hassan, however, cited the lack of resources in writing news content as the daunting challenge for NE media houses. Roy Chowdhury, on the other hand pointed out lack of funding and good mentors specialized in the field to be the major roadblocks. "Moreover, with internet penetration in NE less than the rest of India, it also becomes a challenge to target the end users in a large scale," he rued.

Digital to Disrupt the Way Media Operates

From "bulletin board' in the early years to the "digital news portal' of this era, the media business has survived many decades in different avatars. Today, it is now an established fact that digital media is going to be the next big thing.

The problem with traditional media platforms is primarily convenience. In order to watch news, you have to sit in front of a television, to read a newspaper you have to buy one, however in the case of digital, the newspaper is available right in the palm of your hand via a smartphone.

Alam believes digital media will become the dominant media platform in the future, if not outright replace other media platforms. "If this wasn't the trend why would major media houses launch their own web portals?" he enquired.

Roy Chowdhury maintained that with the old media dying at a faster rate than expected, more and more entrepreneurial opportunities are being created in the digital sphere of media.

"People want to read content as soon as a story develops instead of waiting for a day for their newspaper to arrive at their doorstep. Opportunities are plentiful in video journalism, podcasting and digital news media," he added.
Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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