Siddharth Varadarajan to Launch The Wire, a New Media Startup

Former editor of The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan is planning to launch a new news website called The Wire. Veradarajan is the latest to join ranks with Indian media veterans like Shekhar Gupta, Raghav Bahl and Barkha Dutt  to launch new media ventures recently.

Varadarajan’s startup has tied up with news agencies for content and wants to raise Rs 10-12 cr in the next six months, reports Mint. He will team up with Sidharth Bhatia, an Asian Age columnist and dramatist Girish Karnad’s son Raghu Karnad to launch the site.

He told Mint:

We want to build a platform for independent journalism. The decline in editorial standards in our country is closely linked with the business model of the Indian media that often leads to editorial compromises. We want to be a mainstream news platform free of commercial and political pressures.

We want to be a news site that publishes original content and is reporter driven. But that’s a long-term idea that kicks in once we have the monetary aspect worked out. (source)

From his interviews, three a few things are clear. The venture will be funded by grants and charity. The site will be a mix of reportage and original content. Site wants to come to non commercial agreement with writers based on their interests.

While I’m happy to read this, I’m worried how many of these new generation media companies set out without a clear business model in their mind. A truly independent media house is a myth and at best a delusion.  Grant/ philanthropic funding has its own pitfalls.  Non commercial agreement with writers will mostly attract the worst of them.

That we are journalists doesn’t exempt us from asking ourselves why should people come to me? As a digital product, why is my site different and what’s defensible about it? Varadarajan is quite obviously a very smart person and I’m really hoping the venture takes off. There is much scope for innovation.

Update: The site is already active here.

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