90% of leadership positions in Indian media held by upper caste groups: report

The report surveyed about 43 Indian print, television and digital media outlets for their coverage, the social location of leaders and the caste composition of journalists employed by the organisations.

The report surveyed about 43 Indian print, television and digital media outlets for their coverage, the social location of leaders and the caste composition of journalists employed by the organisations.

According to a new report, about 90% of India’s media leadership positions are held by upper caste groups, with not even a single Dalit or Adivasi heading India’s mainstream media.

The second edition of Oxfam India-Newslaundry’s report “Who Tells Our Stories Matters: The Representation of Marginalized Caste Groups in Indian Media” reveals that around 90% of leadership positions in print, television and media are occupied by General Caste groups without Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) leading the mainstream media.

The report published at The Media Rumble, South Asia’s largest news forum, also shows that 3 out of 5 articles in Hindi and English newspapers are written by general caste writers, while marginalized castes (SC, ST or OBC) only contribute about 1 in 1. of 5 articles.

Of the 121 newsroom leadership positions – editor-in-chief, editor-in-chief, editor-in-chief, bureau chief, input/output editor – in newspapers, TV news channels, websites information and magazines under study, 106 are occupied by upper castes, five by other backward classes and six by people from minority communities. The case of four individuals could not be identified.

Three out of four anchors (out of a total of 40 anchors in Hindi channels and 47 in English channels) of the debates are upper caste. Not a single one of them is Dalit, Adivasi or OBC “For more than 70% of their primetime talk shows, news channels attract the majority of upper caste panelists. No more than 5 % of all articles in English newspapers are written by Dalits and Adivasis Hindi newspapers fare slightly better at around 10%,” he said.

About 72% of articles with the author’s name on news sites are written by people from upper castes and only 10 of the 972 articles on the cover pages of the 12 magazines studied deal with caste-related issues, according to the report.

Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, said: “Our second report in three years continues to show that newsrooms in India are not an inclusive place for the country’s marginalized communities. Leaders of media organizations across all platforms continue to fail to create an enabling environment for Dalits, Adivasis and Bahujans. The country’s media must uphold the constitutional principle of equality not only in their coverage but also in their hiring practices, he said.

It is essential that media organizations immediately undertake a significant overhaul of hiring practices and ensure that newsrooms across the country become more diverse and inclusive. This would be crucial to creating India without discrimination or injustice, Behar said.

The report surveyed about 43 Indian print, television and digital media outlets for their coverage, the social location of leaders and the caste composition of journalists employed by the organisations.

The research which was conducted between April 2021 and March 2022 analyzed more than 20,000 magazine and newspaper articles, 2,075 prime time debates with 76 presenters and 3,318 panelists and 12 months of online reporting.

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

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

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