After the Wall Street Journal began targeting the India market with an India specific site, The New York Times has now launched India Ink, a website that will offer news and analysis targeting the Indians, and those who follow news about India, abroad. Importantly, with an eye on building an audience here, India Ink has been kept outside the NYT paywall, though the company says that this is just an initial move.

Initially, access to India Ink will be exempt from The New York Times’s digital subscription packages. According to a note from NYT, India Ink is edited by The New York Times in India and the International Herald Tribune (IHT) in Hong Kong, led by lead writer Heather Timmons, who has covered business in India for The New York Times for the last four years. It features contributions from New York Times journalists, including New Delhi bureau chief Jim Yardley and correspondent Lydia Polgreen, Mumbai correspondent Vikas Bajaj and former New Delhi bureau chief Somini Sengupta, as well as contributions from top writers in India and the Indian diaspora. Some of the contributors include

  • Sonia Faleiro, author of “Beautiful Thing” who will cover India’s many subcultures
  • Literary critic and columnist Nilanjana S. Roy, on women’s changing roles
  • Sociologist Dipankar Gupta on economics
  • Novelist Sidin Vadukut on Cricket
  • “Following Fish” author Samanth Subramanian on the historical context of current affairs
  • Critic, television presenter and author Anupama Chopra on Bollywood
  • Shivani Vora on the New York diaspora scene.

The site also features NewsWallah, a set of news roundups with three versions: the English press roundup, the Bharat Edition with regional news that is often not highlighted in mainstream publications, and a roundup of long reads.

Inspired, And A Reaction?

Well, it’s worth keeping in mind that India Ink is choosing to go the blog way – with opinions on news, somewhat quirky takes and columns. This is reminiscent of what the Wall Street Journal did with its India publication – the India Real Time blog, and the columnists. Perhaps aware (we’re assuming) of the NYT’s plans, WSJ itself added a host of new columnists –

  • Rupa Subramanya Dehejia on Economics
  • Politics by Jyoti Malhotra
  • Technology by Amit Agarwal
  • A Mumbai and a Delhi Journal
  • A Weekend Panorama by Ajit Mohan
  • A Bollywood journal by Beth Watkins

Meanwhile, in India Online

Apart from a few exception (the Livemint Blogs, FirstPost and Yahoo India columns), India Online continues to primarily focus on offline. There was talk of even Indiatimes jumping into the ring – at Ad:Tech earlier this year, Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani had said that they were planning to launch “a new Indiatimes” with content from niche publishers and columnists. This was in response to my comment (in response to a question) that though we at MediaNama are willing to share our content, the sense I get from mainstream media publishers is “if niche publishers can do this content, so can we”; but as it stands, they neither do in depth niche content, nor do they syndicate.

Although Indian news publishers are aware that TV and online are increasingly driving the conversation, and that online advertising is gaining in momentum, there does appear to be a sense of helplessness, given the cost of content and the comparatively low amount of advertising on the web.

I guess that leaves room for someone else who is willing to take a punt, and bear the cost over a period of time, to do it – the likes of WSJ, FirstPost and NYT can take ownership of that space. The question still remains – how long before they’re able to monetize through advertising, because cost of creating content needs to be justified.

P.s.: Anyone else notice the political correctness of the India Ink logo?

Update: This post had mentioned a statement which was spoken off the record, even though the person in question was not named. We’ve edited this post to remove that point of view, and our apologies for mentioning an off the record conversation.