I came across this today – a local site for Kolkata – I Love Kolkata.com, powered by the ABP group. The site for Kolkata Mirror had been launched a while back, though the paper itself has not been launched in the market. The first two pages of a google search threw up only one other contender for a complete city portal – that was Calcutta Web.
As far as design goes, ILK is quite ahead of the other two. I also liked the ILK usage, which also means ‘people of a specific kind’, in addition to being an acronym for ‘I Love Kolkata’. The site has the regular news coverage, and blogs as well as city info. In comparison, the KM site does look a bit haphazard, but as per the WAT article, this is only a ‘primitive avatar’. The Calcutta Web site is way down on the design parameter, and is an aggregator of news from all the city’s newspapers and has city info.
But wait, this is not about design. What i want to discuss is the content. While its a given that a newspaper site should have the news stories it carries in its print edition, does it always have to try to be a city portal and a blog platform. In its print version, the newspaper is a one stop shop for most readers and their first source of info on most things to do with the city. For the newspaper too, classifieds are a big source of revenue. But, will a net user rely or expect the news site to carry information like say listings or dine out options, or will he rely on a vertical like eventsbangalore or burrp for that? Yes, it does dependent on the maturity level of the user, but thats a dynamic thing.
User generated content. Will only discuss blogs for now. Will an existing blogger switch to a newspaper blogging platform? Will the new user stick on to it after he discovers that there are platforms for whom constant improvement of services is a competency, unlike newspaper sites that lets you create blogs. The other point to note before taking a decision on this is an informal but very informative research done here. While the figures are the result of a lot of mashups, and may not be spot on, the fundamental logic is right. According to this, the percentage of creators is a dismal 4%. India seems to be a country of spectators. At this stage of the internet in India, is is wise to waste pixel space on a non core competency?
Yes, in evolved internet landscapes, it is possible to have excellent user blogs like this, on a newspaper based site, or even something as ‘adventurous’ as this. But in india, is it better for media websites to stick to a CNN IBN model? That would give some exclusive content, with a built in quality control. Once the net evolves, UGC can be scaled up accordingly. For now, isn’t it better to use the web as a base to build solid equity and credibility on a digital platform and figure out ways to use the interactivity factor that the net provides to showcase different perspectives on existing content?
Now, you might say that in a news overloaded internet space, why would anyone want to visit a newspaper site for news. I guess, traditional media still rides on a credibility factor.
until next time, click to print, no its the other way 🙂
PS. Saw another local portal in the making for Bangalore – mybangalore.com