Newslaundry, an Indian digital news organisation, is on a mission to build an alternative model that seeks to address the problem of the media’s perceived lack of independence and its overdependence on traffic and advertisers for money.
Newslaundry does not carry ads and runs on paid subscriptions.
It has three promoters – Abhinandan Sekhri, Prashant Sareen and Roopak Kapoor, each of whom hold a 24.01 percent stake. Sekhri is the chief executive officer.
The three of them, along with Madhu Trehan, founding editor of India Today and the TV Today Network, launched Newslaundry in 2012 as a media critique and news website. It was a spinoff of a production house, Small Screen Film & Television, which was co-founded by Sekhri in 2000 and where Kapoor and Sareen remain partners.
In 2014-15, the Omidyar Network, along with half a dozen investors including Abhijit Bhandari, Mahesh Murthy, Vikram Lal, and Shashank Bhagat, picked up stakes in the company for Rs 4.2 crore.
The Omidyar Network is an impact fund that has invested in Scroll and The Ken as well. The purpose of the funding, says Omidyar, is to help Newslaundry explore innovative approaches and drive transparency and higher standards in the media landscape in India. It hopes the learnings from Newslaundry’s journey to develop a new business model for independent news production will act as a blueprint for other organizations to follow, develop, and spread.
Trehan, who is on retirement mode, has divested her stake in favour of the three existing promoters.
What is the editorial policy of Newslaundry? “Ground reports are voyages of discovery,” explains Sekhri. “When a reporter goes out to pursue a story, they build it on the facts they find on the ground. If an organisation has already taken a position on the story, the reporter would not be able to pursue it with a sense of curiosity and discovery. They would rather go looking to prove the `position’ of their organisation.”
Does this mean Newslaundry has no organisational view on anything? No, it most certainly does on matters that aren’t policy positions or editorial positions but “human values”, he adds. And these human values “Newslaundry still holds dear”.
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