When we started a year ago, we had promised ourselves that we’d be an antidote to the daily news—no quick takes or expert opinion on the news. As we complete a year, it’s fair to say we’ve kept our promise.
But that does not mean we lost sight of the news. We even broke news. Whether it was Google launching its payment app Tez, WhatsApp choosing government-owned UPI for its payments solution, or the government quietly resorting to charity to manage India’s TB burden.
Even though the government or policy in its own right was not what we set out to cover, we managed to spot significant developments in Delhi. Within a month of us writing that the think tank Niti Aayog had a midlife crisis, its vice-chairman quit. When we showed how Facebook has been increasing its clout in New Delhi, many readers were surprised and thanked us for writing those stories. We warned, ahead of anyone else, that GSTN would have serious teething issues and it’d upset many plans. And it did.
Of the four categories—startups, technology, healthcare, science—it’s the startups that our writers have written about most with diligence. The skew in our coverage is visible, and we intend to correct this in year two, but let me add that it has allowed us to bring to our readers pretty much every significant development in one specific sector. We took tough calls in calling out Byju’s insanely-hyped business model or iSpirt’s surprising transformation. We got sued for calling a spade a spade; rather for calling a can of worms a can of worms. (More on the court case here.) In fact, we have three court cases challenging our editorial calls. You’d agree, our stories have travelled far and wide. We were even approached by a Mumbai-based filmmaker for developing our story on a Facebook imposter as a Hindi feature film.
All in all, it’s been a wonderful, and a little bemusing journey: wonderful because we have, by and large, managed to keep the quality and the idea of journalism with which we started; bemusing because we’d be lying if we said we knew we’d come this far in choosing paywall over page views and virality.
When a reader tweets “Wish there was a Ken for every sector”, we take a bow and become doubly aware of our responsibility.
When a reader writes, “I have been a subscriber for close to a year now and would like to believe that I now have a hang of what to expect from each writer :-)”, we take it as an affirmation of our belief in relationships. Today, in an age of aggregation and riffing, readers build a relationship with the subject matter, sometimes with the writer but rarely with the media company itself. We have several readers writing to us every morning, and not just as fair-weather friends. We hope to get better in cementing our relationship with them in year two.
When a reader writes with nearly 15 story ideas—some right up our alley, some beyond our scope—we thank him, and our stars, for such involved readership.
Over 250 stories, in 12 months with a lean editorial team of 10-11 people. Our writers have evolved with The Ken, are getting better with each story and are less exasperated with the (unrelenting) editorial process. All this bodes well for the coming year: exciting stories, new topics, and good ol’ rigour. Keep reading. The Ken’s promise of one deeply reported, a well-narrated story a day is going to get stronger.