Upper Caste Groups Hold 90% Of Leadership Roles In Indian Media: Reports

About 90% of higher positions in the Indian Media are occupied by the upper caste people. Not even a single Dalit or Adivasi heading Indian mainstream media, according to a new report.

The second edition of Oxfam India-Newslaundry’s Report ‘Who tells our stories matters: Representation of Marginalised Caste Groups in Indian Media’ stated that 90% of leadership positions in Indian media houses are occupied by General caste groups with no Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) heading mainstream media outlets.

The report is released at The Media Rumble, South Asia’s largest news media forum. The report states that 3 out of 5 articles published in Hindi and English newspapers are written by General caste authors. The report also stated that marginalized castes (SC, ST, or OBC) authors only contribute to around 1 out of 5 articles.

Out of 121 newsrooms in 106 the leadership positions – editor-in-chief, managing editor, executive editor, bureau chief, input/output editor – across the newspapers, TV news channels, news websites, and magazines under study – are occupied by upper caste people. Five out of 121 are occupied by other backward classes, and six by people from minority communities. The case of four individuals could not be identified.

Out of a total of 40 anchors for Hindi stations and 47 for English channels, three out of every four discussion anchors are upper caste. None of them were Dalits, Adivasis, or members of the OBC. “The majority of the panelists for news stations’ primetime discussion programs—more than 70% of them—come from the upper castes. Only 5% of all articles in English-language newspapers are written by Adivasis and Dalits. Hindi newspapers perform marginally better, at roughly 10%, “It read.

Around 72% of articles with author’s name on news websites are written by people from the upper castes and only 10 of the 972 articles featured on the cover pages of the 12 magazines under study are about issues related to caste, the report said.

Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India said, “Our second report in three years continue to show that newsrooms in India are not an inclusive place for marginalised communities in the country. The leaders of media organisations across all platforms continue to fail in creating an enabling environment for Dalits, Adivasis, and Bahujans.” The media in the country needs to uphold the constitutional principle of equality in not just its coverage but also in its hiring practices, he said.

It is critical that media organisations immediately conduct a significant overhaul of hiring practices and ensure that newsrooms across the country become more diverse and inclusive. This would be crucial for creating India without discrimination and injustice, Mr. Behar said.

The report studied around 43 Indian print, TV, and digital media outlets for their coverage, social location of the leadership, and the caste composition of journalists employed by the organisations.

The research which was conducted between April 2021 and March 2022 analysed over 20,000 magazine and newspaper articles, 2,075 prime-time debates with 76 anchors and 3,318 panellists and 12 months of online news reports.

The research was conducted on qualitative parameters such as the social location of authors/ participants, prominence of the news item, and topic of news coverage.

The report also examined the representation of various caste groups among the staff of news organisations using surveys, secondary sources of information, and databases of UPSC and central universities.

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