Network18’s online news portal FirstPost.com has acquired FakingNews.com, among India’s first satire portals, for an undisclosed amount. FakingNews.com will remain as a standalone entity, Durga Raghunath, VP (Products) at Web18 told MediaNama, and FakingNews Founder Rahul Roushan will remain its editor.
“The assumption is that those who are digital news addicts are the right audience for satire, if you look at the Onion, and those who read, comment and interact around news. Given that FirstPost thinks that social relevance is a driver of our future, Faking news is a great addition to FirstPost,” she said.
Roushan has joined the FirstPost.com newsroom, and FakingNews will be produced from the same newsroom, and will retain its identity. But will satire impact news? “We will be judicious in the way that we don’t undermine the seriousness of the news,” Raghunath said.
Update: FirstPost has announced the deal here.
Remember that FakingNews once had a deal with Affle, wherein Roushan became its Head of Content, and Affle took on the ad sales for FakingNews.com.
What’s particularly important about this deal is that it comes at a time when, while there is a growth in awareness and appreciation of satire, free speech is also under threat from government and politicians. Satirists are usually on thin ice, and the financial support and legal backing of the Network18 group should help the site.
The tricky part of it would be integration – moving from an independent, free spirited (one man show, I think) setup to a newsroom that is usually on the edge, and possibly dealing with the overhead that is a large media house bureaucracy could become tricky: globally, not many blog acquisitions have worked.
At the same time, the opportunity, given the state of governance, demeanor and two-faced-ness of politicians, and the fact that we’re heading towards elections in a years time, is immense. The tricky (and sad) part: it’s sometimes hard to make out whether a news story is for real, or satire.