Around 90% of leadership positions in print, television and digital media are occupied by employees from the general category according to the Oxfam India-Newslaundry report released on Friday.
In their ‘Who tells our stories matters: Representation of Marginalised Caste Groups in Indian Media’ report, they also pointed out that persons from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes have been heavily under-represented in media outlets.
The researchers presented the figured after analysing 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 between April 2021 and March 2022.
The study looked at 190 samples from Hindi and English newspapers and television channels to look at the representation of different communities in leadership roles and found that around 91% of the positions were occupied by the general category, followed by 2.65% by the Other Backward Classes presence, and 1.59% Scheduled Caste presence. None from the Scheduled Tribe category held leadership positions in news channels, newspapers, and magazines.
Data on 35 leadership positions from eight English newspapers showed that dominant castes have nearly 100% presence.
The report found that leadership roles in Hindi newspapers had a better representation of persons from the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes. Out of 31 positions examined, over 80% were occupied by those from the general category, followed by 6.45% of Other Backward Classes and 3.23% of Scheduled Caste.
More than half of the anchors from eight news channels that were analysed for the report are from the upper caste groups while no channel had an anchor from Dalit or Adivasi community to host debates.
The Oxfam-Newslaundry report said that the biggest change can be seen in the representation of the Scheduled Caste category which has increased by 3.17% in 2022, up from zero in 2019.
In digital media, the representation of the members from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities increased by 11% and around 3%, respectively from zero, while the Other Backward Classes category has seen little increase. The general category representation in digital media is still around 77%, found the report.
The report found that around 72% of articles with the author’s name on news websites are written by upper castes and only ten of the 972 articles featured on the cover pages of the 12 magazines that were studied are about caste-related issues.
Chief Executive Officer of Oxfam India Amitabh Behar said the report shows that the country’s newsrooms are not an inclusive place for marginalised communities.
“The leaders of media organisations across all platforms continue to fail in creating an enabling environment for Dalits, Adivasis and Bahujans,” said Behar. “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 added, “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.”