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Ad revenue lessons from News18’s ‘report’ on Malaika Arora

A former employee of News18the web content team of explained to Newslaundry how their entertainment section is put together.

According to the former employee, trending clickbait stories for various beats, such as science, entertainment, and technology, are usually outsourced to a third party.

“We would get a list of 10-15 articles from various digital newsrooms such as News18, NDTV, First post and CNBC,” they said. “Our editor would assign two or three stories to each. Every few hours, we would receive a new list of these trending stories from these digital newsrooms.

The third party would then assemble stories based on Google trends and keywords. The piece on Arora, for example, “was made because it was fashionable”.

The ex-employee also said his team will monitor celebrities’ social media profiles, specifically which posts receive the most likes and reactions from other celebrities to those posts.

Above all, if an actress publishes a bikini shoot, it becomes a must for major media outlets such as NDTV Where News18 to highlight it,” they said. “The search engine optimization, or SEO, team would always tell us that stories like this get the most traffic.”

A “template SEO recipe,” they added, “dictates that the most frequent keyword in the article should also appear in the initial part of the title. Therefore, the use of keywords such as ‘cleavage ‘, ‘bikini’, ‘hot’, ‘sexy’, ‘oomph’, etc. in the titles of the reports is not negotiable.

The former employee said: “Headlines should be sexy enough to click on. The idea is to make it more sensual and titillating. One click is all that matters. More clicks, more ad revenue, that’s the motto. »

For example, last week, media like , and posted photos of actor Nora Fatehi wearing a bikini while on vacation, using the same voyeuristic keywords to gain more views.

Fatehi became news because someone might have seen her trending “white bikini” on Google, Instagram or Twitter, the former News18 said the employee.

And if one media picks it up, the others quickly follow. Hindi reports tend to be “more objectionable and explicit because of the type of audience they target”, the former employee said. “The whole process of selecting women’s bodies…is very messed up, because at the end of the day it’s all about the ads and the clicks. At the end of the day, it’s all business.

And the public wants it too. “Part of our audience appreciates insightful and long stories. But most just want to stay on top of what their favorite celebrities are wearing, going out, etc. “, said the News18 journalist. “It’s paparazzi culture and nothing else. You can argue that it pays our salaries, because by gaining an audience through such stories, websites can also fund their original reporting and possibly send reporters into the field.

An employee of the entertainment office of a former media said Newslaundry their website publishes a minimum of 70-80 entertainment stories per day. She also said celebrities are fueling this cover cycle.

“If Disha Patani posted a photo of herself in a bikini, she wants the media to pick it up,” she said. “…His PR would send it to five media outlets asking them to publish it.”

A reliance on digital ad revenue

An entertainment reporter from a major newspaper based in South India said Newslaundry their publication avoids “titillating” reports on the direction of their editor. But the reporter isn’t sure if this “good and honest” approach is sustainable in the long run, because “titty-up” stories bring in more ads and more revenue.

“I hope I won’t work in the news industry when the time comes,” he said.

Importantly, the state of entertainment journalism today serves as a cautionary tale of what will happen if news organizations depend on digital advertising revenue as their primary source of revenue. The pandemic has really kicked this house out. Historic brands like the Hindu and Indian Express began putting content behind the paywall, while digital brands like news minute, Quintet and To print began to rely on subscription and donation appeals as a precursor to the paywall approach.

Meanwhile, organizations like News18 and NDTV, which are broadcast news outlets first, use their digital facades to generate advertising revenue. Hence the proliferation of “trendy” newsreels on shoots in bikinis and without a bra.

Of course, the solution is to break this addiction to advertising. Some media have done it – and will continue to do so. .

Update: The designation of the News18 reporter has been removed to conceal his identity.