The Covai Post: A Credible & Objective News Portal

Ms.Vidyashree Dharmaraj,Editor-in-ChiefIn less than three years, The Covai Post, an English language news portal from Coimbatore,has begun to make waves across the world. Its content is being picked up by global news aggregators like Daily Hunt, News Republic and in India by the Times Internet.

The credibility and popularity achieved by The Covai Post has enabled the Online News Portal to expand its influence beyond Coimbatore city into neighbouring Kerala. Many people hailing from Kerala and those with relatives in Kerala live and work in Coimbatore.

The Covai Post, awarded as the best Online News Portal by the India Foundation for its objectivity, is becoming the destination for people with interest in social, environmental, political and entertainment news and features.

“Sports and human-interest stories from the network have fetched the network an army of youthful readers who take interest by commenting the stories,” says Mr.Balaji Raju, Managing Editor, The Covai Post.

Today, the Covai Post has an average 8 million plus views a month on Facebook and over 5 million active engagers per month. The Covai Post presence on Twitter has made a difference as we are attracting new readers every day, he says.

Video Content Grabs Eyeballs
What differentiates The Covai Post with similar online news portals are its high-quality video clips and video news and feature content, which have attracted the attention of national television channels. Some national channels have featured The Covai Post stories on their national news bulletins, says The Covai Post Editor-in Chief Ms.Vidyashree Dharmaraj.

The portal’s robust visual news feed has been made possible due to the team’s consistent efforts to include the visual elements into the special stories that hold the interest of the readers and viewers. “I would like to mention here that at the technological level, we have invested heavily so that the video content quality is of very high standard,” she adds.

The Covai Post Network has gained an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for having live streamed the largest recycling session in Coimbatore.

Striving for Credibility
The Covai Post Network has a team of dedicated senior journalists to double check facts and their collective experience is behind the guidance given to the younger colleagues and in the process ensuring authenticity of information being put out and adding to credibility of the news content.

The write ups are preceded by several rounds of discussions before putting out a story, to check if it were in any way violating laws relating to libel or defamation.“Even when handling subjects and issues that could generate a controversy, we make it a point to be truthful and
balanced so that our credibility
remains intact.

We always insist on knowing what the other side says and give it an opportunity to present its side. Our job is to inform and the reader makes up his or her mind. So far, our steadfast resolve has paid us dividends and it has helped us to achieve the top slot as an objective and credible news organization. “But is sure is a challenge to remain at the top,” he said adding “we will do it and whatever needs to do it will be done.”

The Covai Post Network has gained an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for having live streamed the largest recycling session in Coimbatore

The Key to the Future
The Covai Post is constantly leveraging technology and using it to drive the news operations. At present, The Covai Post is researching on a model of IP/location based news feed to personalize reader experience. “We have plans aimed at integrating e-commerce platform to our news forum in the future,” adds Mr. Balaji.

With an evolving revenue model,the portal is likely to use a combination of content and clicks to modulate a plan for revenue generation in the medium term. “We might cover domains such as educational institutions, hospitals, industries, business houses, realtors or any potential entity as possible advertisers.

By 2020 we want to make The Covai Post a profitable entity. We are on the right path; even though at present things are a bit rough in the market,” he concludes.

The Beginning
It all happened over a cup of coffee. It was their common interest of creating a credible, objective news and feature website in Coimbatore, a city that entrepreneurs built, that brought career journalist Ms Vidyshree Dharmaraj and IT professional Mr Balaji Raju together three years ago.

Convinced of the long felt need for such a platform in the city that had everything but a city grown media entity that spoke the language of the city people and gave them a platform to express themselves and be heard by the authorities. The traditional media, the duo observed though doing an admirable job have been ignoring the people’s issues and that it was time for a‘reader friendly platform that was of greater practical use to the readers’ in Coimbatore.

This was how the Covai Post was born in 2015 with incorporation as a media outlet, run by AES Technologies, a web development company based out of Coimbatore.

Ms Vidyashree Dharmaraj has a rich and varied experience of two decades in print media journalism, writing on social, economic, political issues, and a determination to do good journalism. The advent of and growth of independent, objective and credible news dissemination has become more important today than ever before.

On this, both Ms Vidyashree and Mr Balaji, software professional and part owner of software company with a global business presence, are committed. Balaji is a journalist at heart and takes keen interest in news and how it is presented and
pitches in with technology to make the news presentation more interesting and gripping.

Journalistic Journey So Far
The Covai Post has, in the short period, gained immense popularity for its very interesting, useful and content rich video clips and its quality of video clip production has come in for praise from many quarters. Both Ms Vidyashree and Mr Balaji yearn to do impactful journalism and focus on journalism relating to development sector.

For starters, Covai Post confined its coverage to Coimbatore but slowly expanded coverage to neighbouring Kerala and other districts of Tamil Nadu in deference to the demand of the readers.

In these days of media buckling under pressure, Ms Vidyashree presents a picture of boldness and does not shy away from a “dangerous” story or take on big guns, often rubbing them on the wrong side.

Vidyashree did not flinch when she received death threats from established vested interests in Madurai after The Covai Post exposed misdeeds of priests in a temple there. “We had carried the article so as to prevent possible abuse of little girls, forced to remain bare-chested inside a temple with a priest as part of a ritual,” Vidyashree says recalling that the videos of the events were picked up by national television channels as well. It was so satisfying that the Tamil Nadu government was forced to order an official probe into the whole affair, she says.

The Covai Post has been covering issues of the common man - health, infrastructure, environment and tries to expose corruption. “The brickbats and threats thrown at us only means that we are on the right path and that we have hit the target,” Vidyashree says.

“We have been doing anti establishment stories fearlessly despite threats and trolls. During the serial bomb blast anniversary on February 14th, we at the Covai Post carried a story as how victims off the blast are still suffering even after 20 years and still looking for medical help. We had also done a video on the plight of the kith and kin of the convicts, who have been languishing in the prison ever since they were arrested following the blast. The wives and the children of the convicts have been demanding the release of those who had completed life sentence,” Vidyashree says adding that “we were trolled very heavily as someone does not want us to bring out the version of the banned Al Umma outfit responsible for the loss of 60 lives in 1998.”

Our extensive coverage of jalikkatu and thoothukudi firing has given The Covai Post page a good reach and patronage by Tamil diaspora abroad.

Another success of The Covai Post is that it has begun to raise issues and take them to the national level. For example, the Covai Post kicked off a debate over perverse and derogatory lyrics in Tamil film songs, which was picked up by national television channels.

In fact, The Covai Post got three senior police officials to come on camera with their strong views on the issue,that such objectionable lyrics were indeed responsible for increasing violence against women.

Mr Balaji and Ms Vidyashree are also firm: “we will continue our fight for the man and woman on the street, even if it meant a bigger struggle up ahead.”