The challenge of working for The IndependentDecember 3, 2020
There is always a challenge working in the journalism industry, but the challenge is bigger if you are working for a news portal like The Independent.
The name of the game is, if you can’t shape up to the demands of the portal, you better ship out.
I have been with the Independent since 2016, writing freelance, and I joined the publication as a full-time editor/writer in 2018.
After a brief hiatus, during which I was sharpening some of my online skills, I came back to work for the company.
There are a lot of reasons behind the choice I made in September when the opportunity to run the foreign affairs desk came to me.
First is the personal relationship with the company chief, who is a friend of mine. I have known Mr Kumaran Pillai for over five years now. Our friendship started when he joined TOC as the Chief Editor.
In 2016, he joined WorldFuture in our event on the South China Sea conflict held at the Sime Darby Convention Center in Kuala Lumpur.
This was the start of my collaboration with TISG.
Second, there is the credibility of the company. TISG never missed a payment, albeit a bit of delay because of the vagaries that come with the publishing business.
The Independent has made it in a big way in the business. It is a stable company with a strong growth potential. Unlike other news portals or newspapers, TISG is benefiting largely from the IT skills and management knowledge of the founder, Kumaran.
Third, one has to look closely before taking a challenge with an online news business. The big question is whether the site is viable.
Personally, I am a big fan of TISG. I like the simple design and the freedom the writers enjoy. But, as I said above, there are also challenges.
One of the biggest challenges is to work with people who have low-IT skills and a lack of understanding of the disruption that is still shaking the news industry.
When you have some people with both impediments, it becomes a predicament for the portal.
I understand Mr Kumaran had to deal with a few nut cases during the nascent days of TISG. But I believe these days are behind us.
As well as the days when we, the TISG, were doing the job of a blog because since 2018 we are behaving like a professional news site.
Mr Kumaran took the advice of his collaborators — I included — to revamp the editorial side of the portal. We now have proper Sub Editors who slash through the articles from the writers.
But we are moving even further in the transformation plan. We plan to have section heads, and that is why I am the head of the Foreign Desk.
In the process, I am also helping with the Entertainment desk, which is a growing segment of the TISG family.
Now, the question is whether TISG is a news portal or a blog? I believe we are no more a blog space.
We have editorialists; we have specific columns and we have a lot of news items. We also have an international portal, which I believe will grow into a bigger site than TISG. – ENDS