Importance of embracing brave New Media

Indian Newlink has a strong and fair community voice.

For us New Zealanders, that great Hindu festival of Diwali reached its zenith on the 13th of November but two days later there is another important date to celebrate for the Indian community.

This newspaper will mark its 14th anniversary on the 15th of November.

I am delighted and impressed that not only has Indian Newslink survived but has also grown in stature over those 14 years. As a young Westie politician, I watched its beginnings alongside the unfolding Fijian crisis and then as a Minister followed its reportage on immigration politics.

The Delhi mess

I believe that this newspaper has never shirked from chasing the tough and sometimes difficult stories. The October 1 issue was no exception as I read the story about the “decline of visas to New Zealand” mess in Delhi.

In its usual clean and lean format, your paper has told the story about New Zealand’s Ombudsman’s decision that will see 60 visa applications reviewed by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

While that very decision points to the fact that democracy is still alive and well, it also shows that public servants like Simon Smith, INZ National Manager in India, are prepared to apologise for mistakes.

The other major story in that edition titled, “Leave the Rupee in India,” was just some plain unvarnished consumer advice in which Indian Newslink specialises.

The Reserve Bank of India has told Non-Resident Indians that from now on they should change their rupees at kiosks in the departure halls of the Sub-Continent’s airports.

Politics and consumer advice aside, I also think that Indian Newslink is to be congratulated for developing a powerful media persona outside its journalism with its Annual Indian Business Awards.

The Awards are impressive, well supported and have become a major event in the calendar of the New Zealand Indian community.

Doing better

So what can Indian Newslink do better?

I believe that it can look increasingly at some of the softer and more optimistic stories in the Indian community in Auckland. The front page has a lot of hard political and business stories but where is the yarn about a great Auckland Indian sportsman or an Indian artist that is setting this city on fire with their work?

The other key issue I see for Indian Newslink is that if you embrace the brave new world of New Media, you have to be interactive. To that end, during the Labour Party’s primary, I was really impressed by the Fairfax organisation holding a political debate between the three of us on Google Hangout.

This debate was relatively easy to organise and manage and it moved the quality of the presentation way beyond the usual grainy interactive chat.

For us politicians, it gave us the opportunities to move beyond the 30-second word bite and talk directly to our potential voters. For the journalists who moderated this debate, it gave them several exclusive stories.

Everyone was a winner.

I wish Indian Newslink a very happy birthday. Keep up the fine work and never hesitate to be brave.

David Cunliffe is Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. The picture here (by Narendra Bedekar) was taken at the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2010.

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