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News That Matters Not

"News That Matters Not” (NTMN) is a news satire and social commentary website based in India. Founded in late 2009, it is known to publish sarcasm, criticism, satire and the like, usually in the form of humorous news parody. It targets the media, politics, life and society among other entities of the world.Check out their website


It has been covered in print media on two occasions: by MiD-Day and by The Times of India. NTMN was a finalist at Manthan South Asia Awards for socially responsible e-content, and will feature in their Grand Finale in New Delhi on December 1–2, 2011. Vijay Narayan talks to the people who started it!

Q. Please Introduce yourself. Who are the founding members?
Tanay: I am Tanay, a third-year civil engineering student from Delhi College of Engineering. NTMN was initiated by me in November 2009. I love to write, and when I am not writing something, I am either editing articles, reading, listening to music, thinking, trying to be a good engineering student, watching cricket, internet-strolling, or maybe thinking, once again.
Prateek, a childhood friend of mine, provided the initial boost for NTMN; he joined me three days into the venture. Sugandha has been associated with the website ever since its first month, and is now Head of Operations with me. We handle all the administration, team handling and decision-making.
Sugandha: Well, I ain’t who you would really call a “founding member”, but I don’t deny playing somewhere a not-so-unimportant role in the overall growth of NTMN from the time when it was just a blog to now, when it is a full-fledged website being run by an entire team of students from across the country. I am Sugandha, a third year Software Engineering student from DTU (formerly DCE). I choose to call myself a “multi-hobby-ed” person because my interests range from music to dance to dramatics to public speaking and of course, writing. I love my blog (http://thoughts-in-play.blogspot.com) and I love updating it, as much as I love penning down funny/philosophical/random thoughts that occur to me every now and then in the form of one-liners! I think I have a penchant for them. I think I am good. Yeah, am not modest. :D
Q. What made you start this site? What first gave you this idea?
Tanay: One day I read about the concept of news satire in the newspaper. That was my first tryst with this. I had the sudden urge to try it out myself. I had never actually written any humour, and did not believe I could either. But the urge to attempt gave way to NTMN. Back then, it was still very early days for successful and noticeable news satire on the Indian web. I wrote few articles on my personal blog just after my exams ended, and within a week, I was on a new full-fledged website. I got much-needed assistance and support from Prateek in the initial days.
Q. How has the experience been? Can you share some things about life that you have learnt at NTMN?
Sugandha: For me, becoming a part of NTMN has been one of my most fruitful undertakings ever since college started, and I really mean that. Having served first as an author, then as an assistant-editor, later assisting Tanay in all the planning & management and now, as the official HoO, I can vouch for one thing: the growth in me, not just as a writer, but as a planner, as a team-leader and above all, as an individual, has been manifold. The NTMN team, in particular, is nothing less than terrific.
Our team, I feel, derives its strength from the fact that every single person here firmly believes in NTMN and takes pride in their association with it. We all have been taught in our childhood good old stories that prove ‘united we stand, divided we fall’; I am lucky to have got to experienced that first-hand. The fact that so many of us are contributing to NTMN’s growth, sans any personal interests, is really heartening. I am thankful to NTMN, for having taught me for life, the value of such valuable traits as team-spirit, dedication, creativity, honesty, innovation and above all, integrity. Knowing that I wasn’t half as good as I hopefully am today, as a writer and as a person, I sure have a lot to thank NTMN for.
Q. How difficult was it to start up? Did you encounter any set-backs? How did you deal with them?
Tanay: It never began as a start-up. That a start-up venture could be made out of this, only dawned upon me, 14 months into the venture, thanks to Sugandha. Even today, it is not a proper entrepreneurial venture.
So, back then, the only issues dealt with creativity and response from readers for quality of content. The quality was not the best, and the satire was not of any critical value to the society. Experienced readers were quick to notice; some wrote in hate comments, some wrote in detailed quality feedback. The latter of them helped; I got in touch with other satire-writers and some experienced journalists, and by April 2010, we had more careful approach to better satire, and we knew where to improve at. Our first sweet taste of success came in April, when Mid-Day chose to reproduce an NTMN post in its Mumbai edition in return for remuneration to its original author.
Q. What were the sources of finance you could leverage?
Tanay: There were no significant finances involved initially, except the domain registration, which I funded myself. Now, there are hosting charges, which are just covered by our advertising revenue.
Q. How many writers and editors does your team consist of? How easy was it to find these people?
Tanay: Our team has writers from all over India, who joined voluntarily to avail the platform. We have an editorial team of around 7 editors in principle, who I ask for assistance according to requirement. There was no proper editorial setup before August this year; articles were solely edited by me. During our successful internship program this summer, I came across some talented individuals who possessed the accuracy of editing that I always looked for but never got. The interested editing interns were given an opportunity to be part of the team.
Q. How will your work affect the masses?
Sugandha: We believe our work can ‘inspire change through humor’; and on a more realistic note, it does. Satire, or even plain humor, are actually very powerful literary tools. When used for the right cause, they can draw a lot of attention to what might have been ignored otherwise, can force the reader to think and come with his own view-point about the same. Awareness of this kind, is really important for our generation — otherwise touted as a rash and careless lot. It is only a blessing in disguise, that we have got support from a reader-base constituted not just by the youth, but more experienced individuals too.
Infact, it gives us utmost pleasure, to be able to come out with something truly useful. Which is why, we don’t mind digressing sometimes from our main genre, to let people know of, say, the harmful effects of the now-trending Hookah or reasons why women ought to be offered a seat in public buses or our lack of true patriotism and love for the nation!
Q. Where do you see yourself after five years? What are your plans for the future?
Sugandha: We do wish to expand as much as we can. We have plans for the same, but this is too early to comment on them. Having run on a no-profit basis all this while, even being able to survive till five years later would be gladdening for us. If our team and readers continue to co-operate and encourage us, we aren’t going anywhere for as long as possible. This is a promise, to them, and ourselves.
Q. Any such belief as a “formula for success”?
Tanay: Success does have a formula, but that formula can’t be applied by everyone. It’s like you form water not by knowing it consists of hydrogen and oxygen, but by actually having hydrogen and oxygen. If you don’t have the constituents, you have to be very careful to ensure you don’t stumble midway. For me, success comes from ambition, execution, perseverance accompanied with humility, a constant urge to learn and share skills with all levels of people at every opportunity. Before everything, you have to be a good person, else that success has no value.
Sugandha: I’ll tell you once I achieve it. You tell me if you get to taste it before me. :D


Tanay: After Sugandha’s reply, lemme add that I gave some formula, doesn’t mean I am successful. :(

 

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