Update: Appears that Karthik S had written about this product last month, when it was known as Raw News. He raises some issues related to the importance of bylines and the publication vs the journalist. My take: with publishing and distribution being a commodity online, you don’t really have a choice.

Indiatimes appears to have recently launched SpeedNews for Times of India. SpeedNews is a quick read interface that allows reporters to publish short updates from cities across India. This is essentially taking the Twitter concept, and reworking it to suit a media house model, by combining the freshness of recent updates with the brevity of mobile limits (thankfully not SMS lingo), with geography and categorization.

The geography and categorization allows users to search for city specific news, or the latest updates according to Business, Crime, Entertainment, Politics, Sports, and General news. This product should allow a lot more news to be surfaced rather quickly, perhaps even content that doesn’t necessarily make it to articles. For example, in the screenshot below, you’ll see a quick message from a journalist about a city specific event.It does appear as if the content is going through an editorial desk, though. This works rather well for someone looking for the latest updates for city specific news, and could well become a primary source of accessing news on timesofindia.com itself. They need to work on collecting more news, though: couldn’t find any news for Aurangabad. It’s also good to see that the journalists on Speed News have a byline and a photo up. Bylines are extremely important in the digital medium, perhaps even more so than in print.

Indiatimes could do the following things with SpeedNews:
– Include URLs: Firstly, incorporate the latest articles (headlines with short URL’s), to drive traffic to the rest of the pages.
– Homepage: Secondly, incorporate Speed News into its homepage (just a link at the top isn’t doing this product justice), and it will give readers something recent to read every time they visit.
– Topic based: why just cities and broad news categories? Like they’ve done with the CommonWealth Games, ToI could create specific tags for what could be trending topics, and showcase the latest updates. They aren’t showcasing the topics, for some reason.
– Article integration: ToI could combine SpeedNews with tags on article pages, to provide additional context and the latest news on a particular topic.
Other properties: SpeedNews looks like it can work across sites: would like to see something like this for the Economic Times, and language verticals as well.
– Monetization: From a monetization perspective, imagine ‘Promoted Accounts‘ within this interface, and city specific ‘Promoted Tweets‘ with city specific updates (with a differentiated font and background, and marked as a marketing initiative, of course).

All in all, a thumbs up from us for SpeedNews.

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