English newspapers are worse than Hindi on representing Dalit, Adivasi writers: Oxfam India report

03 August 2019

The Indian media is “predominated by the upper castes”—that was the key conclusion of a study conducted by the non-profit Oxfam India and the media watchdog Newslaundry. The report titled, “Who Tells Our Stories Matters: Representation of Marginalised Caste Groups in Indian Newsrooms,” was released on 2 August. It studied the representation of people from different caste groups in the Indian media to document “who has a seat at the table and whose voice has a chance of being heard.” It found that the “Scheduled Tribes are almost entirely absent, whereas the Scheduled Castes are represented mostly by social activists and politicians rather than journalists.” It further noted that Other Backward Classes, or OBCs, “are similarly underrepresented even though they are estimated to constitute over half of India’s population.”

The study examined six English and seven Hindi newspapers, 11 digital news outlets, 12 magazines, and flagship debate shows on seven English and as many Hindi television channels to collect caste details of reporters, writers, anchors and debate panelists. To determine the caste of individuals, the report relied on past studies, questionnaires sent to individual journalists, “credible sources in the media fraternity,” and public statements from journalists themselves. For the remaining names, the study relied on the castes and surnames recorded in “the examination results of the Union Public Service Commission and the Delhi University for the past seven years.” The report noted that the caste of about ten percent of the people in the study's database could not be ascertained using these methods. They were listed under the category of “Can't Say.” Additionally, Christian, Muslim, and Parsi journalists, writers, and panellists were categorised as “Not Available.”

Courtesy Oxfam India report Courtesy Oxfam India report
Courtesy Oxfam India report
Keywords: Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes Dalit Adivasi news media