Three weeks ago I was in Mumbai on work. On my way from the airport to Marine Lines, I saw several hoardings of www.firstpost.com. Then I saw the laptops of newsreaders in CNN-IBN sporting the Firstpost logo. Being a news junkie, the curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to see what this new site has to offer. I checked the credentials and was not disappointed, though not particularly enamoured either. It comes from the Web-18 family and has the former DNA editor R.Jagannathan as its editor.
In the last two weeks that I have been getting the RSS feeds from this site. I am quite impressed by what I see here. It is a news-cum-views hybrid. The authors give their views on news and day’s events as they unfold. So one not only gets the update on the news but also what are its implications. It has a broad range from politics, business, cinema, world news and even general interest articles. Also on the same theme, there are several views. The site has some fresh set of authors like Lakshmi Chaudhry and Sandip Roy who are not afraid of expressing their opinion on even politically incorrect themes. This generates a debate and some readers are emerging as regular commenters. Now the site has even taken them on-board and published them as their first community bloggers. In fact, the site has a blog-like feel about it.
With most of the Indian portals like Rediff, Yahoo and Indiatimes sourcing most of their news from newspapers, there is always a delay in the views appearing in the site. Also, there is a degree of sameness in the views with the newspapers. The online edition of the TV channels and the newspapers also suffer from similar problems. The advertising clutter and breaking a small article into many pages makes online reading a very unpleasant experience. (Firstpost still does not have any advertising). Then there was this credibility problem of many media houses, forcing many discerning readers to look at blogs for alternative views. Hence, there was space for a stand-alone online news and views service.
Firstpost has made a promising beginning in this direction. Hopefully, commercial considerations, political pressures and other real world issues like inability to retain good writers, does not dilute the good product.