3 Oct Update: MediaNama spoke with Editorji founder and journalist Vikram Chandra to get a better understanding of its content, team and revenues: 

In a conversation with MediaNama, Editorji founder Vikram Chandra told us that the 100 videos they produce everyday come from a variety of sources like Twitter, YouTube, wire [services], while some were completely generated by the algorithm. He mentioned that [content partner] HT’s videos were already live on the platform, with other partners slated to join in the future.

Editorji was designed to be a platform open to a range of media, and the company believes that the format it uses – 15 second video news – is best suited to the current generation, Chandra said.

Chandra added that Editorji editors work with the company’s algorithm to tailor content from the top 20 websites across the world, as well as big stories that a user should be seeing, instead of only silo-driven news consumption [as what happens when a user sees only technology news if they’re interested in technology].

The company will look at revenues from multiple streams starting with 15 second video ads, and eventually launch charged premium services along with advertising on the platform.

Chandra told NDTV Gadgets that ‘editorji’ the name came as an inspiration from the TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati where the computer is referred to as ‘computerji’, the AI algorithm creating the newscast and the user creating their own newscasts are both editorjis.

Editorji’s main team consists of Seema Chandra, Biswajit Borkataky, Shailander Chauhan, Jyotsna Mohan, Vasudha Sinha, Shivangana Vasudeva, Devika Anand Gupta and Sriwanti Bhattarcharya, along with Chandra, from various arms of NDTV’s shows, properties and channels like SmartCooky, Profit, The Big Fight, Good Times, Left, Right & Centre; and Bloomberg TV, HT, Indian Express, TOI among others.

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28 Sept Update: Editorji said that it creates 100 videos in-house at the moment. “But Editorji is designed as a platform so going forward it will source 15 second videos from a number of national and regional content players,” the company said. It has also tied up with Akamai for data analytics and plans to expand its partnerships to other companies. “Editorji will function as a platform that is based on multiple partnerships,” it said.

Frankly, the use of ANI and “file” content is quite confusing if the editorial team is creating original content. There isn’t any clarity around what exactly is sourced and what is original. From its above statements, it looks like Editorji will go on to become another aggregator for news. Video news, nonetheless.

Earlier today: Journalist Vikram Chandra has launched an Android and iOS video news app called ‘editor ji’ (Editorji Technologies Pvt Ltd), two years after he stepped down as NDTV’s Group CEO.

  • Editor ji (note the puzzling space between the words?) is currently funded by Bharti Airtel and Hindustan Times (Rs 20 crore and Rs 10 crore respectively according to VCCircle).
  • The company has a team of 35 people producing 100 news videos every day.

As of now, the app has 1,000 downloads. The editorji (sorry, I cannot keep up with the space styling) press statement says that it has partnered with 2 technology and design companies (Opalina Technologies and Amazon Comprehend, according to VCCircle). A cursory search shows some of its employees as Vasudha Sinha, Nishant Singh, Shriya Roy, Priyanka Chharia, Rajat Malik, Rahul Shastri, Vishakha Somani as employees across video editing, IT, content creators and producers, and media consulting.

Where’s the content coming from?

It is unclear where editorji is sourcing its content from, and/or if it is creating new news content. A cursory glance at the app and website throws up content from ANI and “file” (provided for standard content from multiple sources). We’ve asked the company for more details and will update this when we hear from them.

On the app’s main UI, it opens with a video of Chandra explaining the user settings and preferences and asks the user to swipe left to skip a story.

  • It currently claims to have over 100 video stories a day across genres, and plans to increase as more content providers go online.
  • It also will expand into further languages, however, it does not mention a timeline for this.
  • There is also author written or shared content from “opinion makers.”

Chandra told VCCircle that for revenues, the company will look at advertising, branded content, premium services and content partnerships.

How does it work?

Editorji offers Hindi and English news videos “using a powerful AI algorithm” the company said. It will use AI to personalise the user’s stream based on historical watching. Chandra said in the statement that the algorithm takes into account location, news genres, “preferred style of news” etc to generate a news feed for the user. Users have the ability to change the order, add stories, and create a new list from scratch. They can also record their opinions and add (and share) them to the video list. The company also has a website where users can do the same thing. The video quality is not made for desktop, though. 

Surprisingly, the Android app asks for access to all of these:

  • Location — precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • Phone — read phone status and identity
  • Photos/Media/Files — read the contents of your USB storage – modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Storage — read the contents of your USB storage- modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Camera — take pictures and videos
  • Microphone — record audio
  • Wi-Fi connection information — view Wi-Fi connections
  • Device ID & call information — read phone status and identity
  • Other
  1. download files without notification
  2. receive data from Internet
  3. view network connections
  4. full network access
  5. prevent device from sleeping
  6. set an alarm

It is unclear why Editorji requires access to all of the above. In the app’s settings, one can set “regions of interest” – presumably why the app asks for a location, but is completely unnecessary since a user can manually select between Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. It then asks for topics of interest selection like youth, business, tech, showbiz, sports, lifestyle etc.

Do you prefer serious or masala news?

“What style of news do you prefer?” — The one thing that stands out in the settings is “news and views” — for which I will let the screenshot do the talking.

Editorji says that ‘Carriage fees and relying on TRP ads has resulted in low content quality — and the consumer does not have choice about what is shown on the screen – and therefore is biased’ (paraphrased).

In our opinion, bias will creep in into any curated platform. Even with editorji, there’s a good chance that its own editorial team is deciding what the user can and should watch, because it is not just generic aggregation, as far as we can tell.