Zee Group has launched a multi-lingual, hyper-local, pan India digital platform – ‘I am in dna of India’ to aggregate news from 500 neighbourhoods and local circles in the country. Citizens can participate by either becoming a volunteer in a particular locale or be an Active Citizen by signing up and staying active on the platform.
The website claims that the platform shall be available in 10 languages, however the home page also mentions that the website will be available only in 8 languages. The website has been currently launched in Hindi and English from 200 locales in the country and contains local news posted by community members and will expand to content in 10 languages from 500 neighbourhoods over time.
The posted news will be visible to readers only on signing up to the platform. Presently, the community does not offer any detailed area wise news since the platform has just launched. It appears that the platform doesn’t have an active community of contributors yet.
Volunteer can contribute in several ways including reporting local news from local media, connecting sources willing to help in reporting a local story, recruit members on their local community page on the platform, share local news for discussion, posting and managing issues, among others.
Any citizen above 18 years of age and not affiliated to any political party can become a volunteer by taking up the Citizen DNA test, then filling out the volunteer application form and collecting votes for their application. At the time of writing this article, 2013 applications had been filed with the platform of which 362 candidates had been shortlisted as volunteers.
Verification of news?
Citizen participation in gathering and reporting news is an interesting idea, however, unless an editorial team of trained journalists filters, verifies and edits the news, the information gathered may not be consumable. Facts may be wrongly presented or interpreted by citizens. This has been a major concern against other citizen journalism initiatives in the past.
It is also not clear if the company plans to monetize the platform and how much of news from the platform will be published in DNA’s print edition. Although at this point of time, the campaign seems like a platform that also doubles as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), the purpose of the platform may be lost with monetization.
Crowd sourcing news as citizen journalism seems to be a cost-effective strategy to generate content at a time when companies like Web18 and TV18 are laying off their editorial staff due to the fall in advertising revenue across different media.