At a time when journalists are accessible to consumers through various sites like Twitter and Facebook, Web18, the digital arm of Network18, is trying to develop a parallel route to connect its journalists with viewers directly though the internet.
The company has launched a social media platform called Blaze, available at IBNLive.in.com/Blaze. Here, reporters of CNN IBN or its other publications/news channels would interact with consumers, and also share news stories or videos of their choice.
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"To begin with, our journalists can only share stories or videos published on Network18 media properties. Later, they will be enabled to put up stories from other publications or TV channels as well," Sinha explains.
Several CNN IBN journalists, including Rajdeep Sardesai, Suhasini Haidar, Karma Paljor, Sagarika Ghose and Smitha Nair are already active on Blaze.
Sinha clarifies that Blaze will not compete with popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, it will complement other social media tools that reporters use. The company has enabled its reporters to integrate their Facebook and Twitter information feeds with their Blaze accounts.
The profile pages of journalists on Blaze will be accessible to any internet user. That is, a user need not become a member of the site to check news and video links shared on Blaze, or to read Twitter and Facebook updates posted by a journalist.
"However, to interact with journalists, an internet user will be required to be a member of the news website, IBNLive.com or In.com, the horizontal portal of Web18," Sinha adds.
In terms of interactivity, members of the site can visit the profile pages of CNN IBN's journalist on Blaze and ask or submit questions, and even chat with journalists during times fixed for public interaction.