Google Alerts, Not Enough

Aside

As I look more into the target audience and how they access news, someone asked, is my site going to be like Google Alert, or is it going to be any different.

Google Alerts, as the website explains are emails sent to us when Google finds new results that matches our area of interest. For example if I’m interested to know about any developments on the Mumbai building collapse, and sign up for the alert service, Google will pull up web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs  that match my search term.

But, the problem I see with Google Alerts is that, its scope is too vast. The diaspora, need to create a bunch of alerts to keep up with the news, for simply signing up for alerts on “India” are going to give them far too many updates everyday. Moreover not all users may not be very good with “what to look for” and sign up for the alerts accordingly. Hence the role of an aggregator who will also act as a gate keeper is very important here.

India Abroad- Magazine with a Focus

Scanning the competition further, I came across the weekly newspaper India Abroad. Founded in 1970, this subscription based paper claims to be the oldest Indian newspaper to be published in North America. The paper is presently owned by Rediff.com. The subscription is, $18 for 6 months and $32 for a year. They also have a discount on student subscriptions, $9 for 6 months and $16 for a year. Considering there are around 200,000 Indian students studying abroad, this is a good strategy to get an audience. The circulation figures for the newspaper was 30,415 in the year 2011.

Through the Ohio University Library, I could access their electronic edition and I looked at the content of the latest issue. The focus of the issue was the anniversary of the shootout at the Sikh temple at Wisconsin. There were in-depth features and interviews on how the community was healing from the scars of the tragedy. The other stories had to do with things Indians are doing abroad.

But, this being a weekly newspaper, there was no India specific daily news. The magazine is very clear in its focus and stays true to its title India Abroad. This is one of the better diaspora magazine that I came across, which has some professional journalistic writing. It is more than just a community newsletter.

If this magazine has loyal subscribers, it indicates that there is definitely an audience among the Indian diaspora.

The Competition- Some Existing News Sites

As I gather more information on the audience and their choice of news sites, I’m trying to look at some of the existing news sites for the Indian Diaspora here. So far, I have found this app for android phones- it’s called Newshunt, which is a news and job search app. It can lead you to the websites for all major Indian newspapers in 11 Indian languages, and then on, the reader has access to the complete online editions of these newspapers. But, this is not really a news-aggregator app, as it is merely leading me onto the websites, no suggestions for what to look for, no recommendations for most important news.

The second news site that I checked out is Indiawest.com. Even before I could get into looking at the content critically, I observed the website has a really cluttered interface, and is not easy to navigate. The news section, has 4 sub-sections to choose from: Technology, Global Indian, India and Business. The Global Indian section, has news on Indian American public figures or Indian Americans in news. I understand the focus on the Technology section, as a lot of Indians here are working in the same sector. But as I go along and develop my site/app I should decide if I want to have a section on Indian Americans. 

Indian Diaspora- A Desirable Audience

 For my diaspora news project, the target audience is the Indian diaspora living in the United States. At present there are around 3.2 million Asian Indians, here in USA. In the last decade this population has grown by almost 69% and is still the fastest growing ethnic group in USA.  Presently this ethnic group only constitutes 1% of the US population, and my news site will only cater to this 1% of the population.

From a socio-economic standpoint, this is a highly desirable audience. According to the 2010 US census, the median household income of this group is $88,000. With many as  engaged medicine, the IT sector and teaching. Even though India as a country has a huge diversity of languages and there are as many as 22 officially recognized languages; the population residing here is well versed in English. Hence, aggregating news stories from websites that are in English, will suffice.

But, the linguistic divide leads the audience also to be divided along regions and hence may be interested in news of particular regions as much. I’m yet to decide how I’m going to segregate the content in terms of national news vs regional Indian news, and in what ration should they be presented?

I also have to keep in mind that the diaspora is a cross-generational one, where there are many who are new immigrants, and a part of this group is now first or second generation Americans. I would do further research on whether it is possible to attract both these sets of audience, with the same news?

 

We Need More news!

My project is to develop a news website/blog for the Indian diaspora in the Unites States of America.

Due to lack of time the diaspora always do not look into the online news sources of their home country. The India-related news that appears in the U.S. mainstream media is often of an accident or natural disaster, thereby only presenting a limited version of the happenings there.

For instance, in the last four or five days, India news that were picked up by the U.S. media were: hearing of the Delhi gang rape case and the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar. While both these stories are very important and deserve a mention, I think the Indians here may also want to know what else is going on. One such news that would interest Indians here, but went completely unnoticed by the U.S. media was, India’s leading tennis player, Leander Paes’ winning the doubles at the U.S. Open at the age of 40. I therefore think, there is a need-gap here, and a potential audience that my news site can cater to.

I want to create a news-aggregation site that will list the 10 important India-related news every day. It will be somewhat the The Daily Beast’s, Cheat Sheet. I will not have any original reporting, one paragraph to summarize the news, and then link them to the original Indian news site.