By Syed Ali Mujtaba
New Delhi: The Oxfam India-Newslaundry’s report titled; ‘Who tells our stories matters: Representation of Marginalised Groups in Indian Media,’ states that 90% of leadership positions in Indian media houses are occupied by upper caste Hindus. There is no representation from Muslims Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (ST) categories in the mainstream media outlets, it says.
The report released on Oct 14, 2022, at ‘The Media Rumble’, South Asia’s largest news media forum states that ‘out of 121 newsrooms only five posts are occupied by other backward classes, and six by people from minority communities. The upper caste Hindus occupy 106 posts in 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.’
The other finding of the report is that 3 out of 5 articles published in Hindi and English newspapers are written by upper-caste Hindu authors. The marginalized group authors contribute only 1 out of 5 articles. Only 5% of all articles in English-language newspapers are written by Adivasis and Dalits. Hindi newspapers perform marginally better, at roughly 10%, says the report.
Further, ‘only 10 of the 972 pieces featured on the cover pages of the 12 magazines were about caste-related concerns. Around 72% of articles with author names on news websites are written by persons from the upper castes,’ the report reads.
The report reveals that 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 category. “The majority of the panelists for news stations’ primetime discussion programs, more than 70% of them come from the upper castes, the report adds.
‘Indian Media houses continue to fail in creating an enabling environment for minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, and Bahujan in India. They need to uphold the constitutional principle of equality in not just its coverage but also in its hiring practices,” said Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India.
‘Our second report in three years continues to show that newsrooms in India are not an inclusive place for marginalized communities in the country. The leaders of media organizations across all platforms continue to fail in creating an enabling environment for the marginalized groups in the country,’ he adds.
The second edition of Oxfam India-Newslaundry’s report looked at the coverage, socioeconomic background of the leadership, and caste makeup of the journalists working for the organizations at 43 Indian print, TV, and digital media sources.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com