This dominance was intact among the panelists invited to participate in debates. Panelists in general categories were preferred for other discussions on business, economics and international issues. Panelists from OBC categories were mainly invited to discuss issues related to religious identity, municipal politics and caste and tribal issues.
Even then, only five percent of the panelists discussing caste and tribal issues were from marginalized communities.
What about the number of discussions on caste issues?
NDTV had the highest number of Hindi debates on caste and tribal issues, but it was still a woefully low 3.6 percent of its total debates. English debates on caste issues fared equally poorly, too India today has a maximum of 2.6 percent. In contrast, 13 percent of India todays debates in English were about religious and communal issues.
Digital news portals, seen as the shiny new alternative to legacy media, also feature bylines dominated by journalists from the general category. Nine sites were investigated: EastMojo, First post, News washing, Scrollthe Wirethe News minute, Swarajyathe Mooknayakand that Quint.
It is important that alternative digital media such as EastMojo and Mooknayak fared better in the case of reports written by people from marginalized caste groups.
Almost 69 percent of English bylines in News washing was by journalists from the general category, followed by First post (61.9 percent) and Scroll (54.7 percent). Mooknayak was an exception, with only 33.3 percent of bylines from the general category. Fifty percent of the portal’s senior positions come from the SC community, followed by News minute by 25 percent.
Overall, over 55 percent of the digital media writers were from the general category and less than five percent from SC or ST communities.
If the situation hasn’t changed in four years, how can it change four years in the future?
Based on interviews with marginalized communities, the report said a “mere change in leadership will not address the problem. Representation should be ensured at all levels to bring about democratic transformation.” It also suggested that organizations produce annual diversity reports to make media houses “more accountable” and implement “uniform and transparent” recruitment processes.
At a larger level, it suggested introducing “affirmative policies in the news industry for marginalized groups made by the Government of India” and forming a body to monitor diversity in newsrooms.