Languages
Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 18:34 UK
Bangalore - City in beta



By Jamillah Knowles
BBC News

Citizen Matters editors
Subbu Vincent and Meera K, editors at Citizen Matters

India is known for its vibrant free press. Globally recognised and renowned newspapers are freely available online and in print.

However a new school of publications is changing news in Bangalore and key themes in new media are high on their agenda.

Citizen Matters is a weekly news magazine based in Bangalore.

It sources, works with and encourages readers to get involved in making news that is important to them.

The result is a vibrant combination of observations by the people closest to civil issues and content created by reporters.

The team is small, with only eight people including two editors and two qualified reporters shaping the output.

But their network is growing with regions beyond the city participating in content creation from full reports to photographs provided via social sites online.

It is a truly integrated system of reporting that seems labour intensive from the outside but is so far reaping its own reward.

The idea came from looking at how to harness the conversations in internet forums. Not surprisingly, Citizen Matters was first produced online. It was finally printed by request.

"People were aware of it but they wanted to read it on the bus, on the way to work and there is no real wi-fi infrastructure in place to support this," explains Subbu Vincent, one of the editors.

So in an odd reversal of mainstream media trends, Citizen Matters turned to print to widen its appeal.

Citizen news in need

Mr Isaac Arun Selva of Slum Jagathu
Mr Selva says the rich are unlikely to subscribe to local publications

The prospect of printing news in order to serve an alternative audience is not new in Bangalore.

Isaac Arul Selva created Slum Jagathu back in 2000.

The aim was to provide news in local languages for and by slum dwellers; a voice for people who felt they were being ignored.

Nearly a decade on, the magazine is troubled by financial issues. Mr Selva says he is paying the printer after the print run from later sales.

The readers can barely cover themselves financially and so gaining appropriate funding would mean asking for help from people who are not directly affected by the issues in its content.

Slum Jagathu would probably gain more readers if it was written in English, but this would not serve its original community audience.

Another way to attract enough attention to gain subscribers would be to put editions online, but this would also mean that the community concerned would not be able to access it regularly and doing both versions would be expensive.

Mr Selva says that he publishes each edition as a PDF file when the print run is out.

According to him the problem lies with the attitude of the rich who work in the technology parks and are often educated in other countries in the English language.

He says that they are unlikely to contribute or subscribe to a local publication that is printed in Kannada, the local language, and does not have a direct association with their aspirational lifestyle.

Bangalore bloggers

bloggers
A bloggers evening meet in Bangalore

As Bangalore is one of India's technology centres, it is not surprising that it has a hard working and savvy selection of bloggers - who call themselves Blogoloreans - and social media participants.

After a commute into IT support companies to sit at a terminal all day, they go home to work some more on their own output.

Though India has a vast and varied selection of blogs on all sorts of topics, some of the more popular online presences are related to technology, opining on the latest software releases and generating a lot of content at speed.

Mobile market

Lots of local mobile phone portals are springing up online.

It appears to be a huge market, but often readers and subscribers to these sites tend to be the elite. They either work in technology, are naturally early adopters or can simply afford to buy new phones and pay for the time spent using them.

However the general population is less likely to have a single mobile phone to a family and posting their own news online is not something most people expect to be able to do for a long time.

Third generation phones are to be rolled out later this year and this may change the game for people in poorer and rural areas.

The EDGE system is close to 3G standards already but the speed is slow and people are only likely to be checking mail.

Faster speeds of information flow for mobile handsets at India's favourable data tariffs could make communication online a lot easier for more people.

It could bring a change in blogging habits, with larger communities involved in news online and citizen reporters taking a firmer hold on their requirements for information.

With India's passion for opinion and current affairs, the free press may be about to become a lot more creative.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Transition city blues
21 Oct 09 |  South Asia
New school tools for news reporting
16 Oct 09 |  South Asia
In pictures: Bangalore juxtaposed
16 Oct 09 |  South Asia


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific