A new entrant on Twitter, breaking updates on Maharashtra politics, Katta News has garnered significant attention on social media. The Twitter handle @katta_news was created on November 18. Two days later, it broke the news of Ajit Pawar likely to split NCP and join hands with BJP to form government.
Serious & breaking: @AjitPawarSpeaks is ready split the party with 35 MLAs & may joint hand with @BJP4Maharashtra & form the government. @PawarSpeaks having tough time to convince his nephew @AjitPawarSpeaks so meeting Modi to not to entertain @AjitPawarSpeaks
— KattaNews (@katta_news) November 20, 2019
Three days hence, Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the CM of Maharashtra with Ajit Pawar as his second in command. Several prominent personalities and journalists on Twitter commended the portal’s reporting on Maharashtra politics.
My compliments to @katta_news for this newsbreak of the day.
This is what journalism must do: bringing to light something that someone in power would like to keep in dark. https://t.co/jLrZlkP5JZ
— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) November 25, 2019
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) November 23, 2019
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) November 26, 2019
On November 24, Katta News broke another story – “anti-corruption bureau gives a clean chit to Ajit Pawar who was allegedly involved in a Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam.” Moments later, the media jumped on the news. ANI tweeted that the cases closed were conditional and could be reopened.
Who is behind Katta News?
The person behind the newly-formed platform is Mumbai-based journalist Sudhir Suryawanshi who was working with DNA before its print edition was shut down in early October due to financial constraints. In a conversation with Alt News Suryawavanshi said, “The idea had been lingering in my mind after DNA was closed down. There is no future for print. This sector has been dying slowly so I decided that rather than continuing in print as a media, why can’t we start our portal or website?”
The Marathi word ‘Katta’ means a gathering of people in common places in the evening or during leisure time when they discuss news from around the world, their country and village. “It basically means generating information in one place. Therefore I thought ‘Katta’ would be the best name to give to the portal,” explained Suryawanshi, a journalist whose career spans across 15 years of reporting on agriculture, housing and real estate. His domain, however, is politics.
Suryawanshi had recently penned an opinion piece on Hindustan Times on Shiv Sena-BJP split in Maharashtra. He has also written for Zee News, the parent organisation of DNA and Mumbai Mirror. One of the most prominent stories he had broken while working with Mumbai Mirror was the enormous electricity bill – Rs 70 lakh – generated in the first month after Mukesh Ambani moved in his Mumbai residence Antilia.
“Breaking stories was not the issue. The problem was a lack of platform. I first started Katta News as a blog and received good response. However, I was advised by many people that I should start my own website. Since setting up a website takes time, I decided to tweet the information that I was able to derive through my sources and contacts.,” said Suryawanshi. “Katta News was the first to report on November 20 that Ajit Pawar is likely to split from the NCP. No one believed the news at the time. Many NCP leaders also called and told me that this was false but I stood firm on my reporting and it turned out to be true. I believe in my sources.”
Katta News is currently a one-man show but Suryawanshi is hopeful that he will be able to expand the outlet in Maharashtra. “The motive is to give credible and reliable information because nowadays people are losing trust in mainstream media. There have been instances when mainstream media has churned false news or speculations and rumours,” he said.
Strongly believing that digital media is the future, Sudhir Suryawanshi intends to develop the website on politics, agriculture, real estate, housing and socio-economic issues concerning Maharashtra.
[This article is a brief profile of Katta News and is not an endorsement of either the portal or its founder. The article is a part of Alt News’s ‘Source Verification’ series wherein we will help our audience find the faces behind certain Twitter handles, Facebook pages and news websites.]