Be a blog.

If the last seven months are anything to go by, an opportunity has been missed, to set up the Indian equivalent of The Huffington Post or The Daily Beast. Whether it is the IPL controversy, the Commonwealth Games scam, the Adarsh Housing Society scam, the startling awakening of the Environment Ministry, or the 2G Spectrum Scam, and above all, the gossip in the Radia Tapes.

There are several websites with commentary on politics and/or the role of the media – Pragati, The Hoot, Governance Now, but the best commentary – by a stretch – has been on Twitter, and very few publications have tapped into that consistently, the way blogs do. The space is wide open still for a site that does smart commentary, is very quick on the uptake, is opinionated, presents points and counter-points, encourages debate, provides commentary on commentary, puts into perspective what is going on, and above all, does smart curation. Blogs do that the best, and many publications are just too (pardon the phrase) print-headed. Some of the better commentary was by WSJ India Blogs – here, here and here.

IBNLive has probably done the most, in terms of targeting and aggregating their own content, IBNPolitics (more or less dead when there elections aren’t being held?), and a page dedicated to Wikileaks, focusing on the India documents. But really, how much play are either sections getting on their main site anymore, or even among conversations online? On the Wikileaks updates, IBNLive’s Photos, Blogs and Talk section are empty, and above all, their approach is closed: no linking out, even to Wikileaks, and though they’ve reproduced India documents, there’s very little work on top of that. There’s no highlighting, no commentary, and not even linking to their own content that might provide perspective. Copy-paste.

One of the more interesting attempts I’ve seen in India, so far, is ReadingRadia, which seeks to crowdsource transcription of the recordings Outlook magazine published online. I think there’s also room for a website that aggressively uses the Right To Information, the way The Smoking Gun does (although, this not the kind of content we’re talking about here).

The space is wide open for someone to become a destination – smart curation, commentary, debates, co-opting conversations taking place on the web, linking out to great content and conversations, and putting the RTI to good use. Be a blog: the information is out there, and you need to read your audience to figure out what works for them. This is just the beginning, and there will be leaks aplenty in the coming years. If you think you can do it – start today, and iterate, iterate, iterate. That’s the way of the web.

Digital Ideas for Media In India

– Six Degrees
– OpenPolicy
– Entrepreneurial Journalism Media