Special Correspondent

"No Dalit or Adivasi among top 300 journalists"

Hindu upper caste men hold 71 per cent of top jobs Muslims account for only three per cent among key decision-makers

New Delhi: In the first-ever statistical analysis of its kind, a survey of the social profile of more than 300 senior journalists in 37 Hindi and English newspapers and television channels in the capital has found that "Hindu upper caste men" who form eight per cent of the country's population hold 71 per cent of the top jobs in the national media. Women, non-upper castes, and Muslims are grossly under-represented in relation to their share in the population.

The survey notes that Dalits and Adivasis "are conspicuous by their absence among the decision-makers. Not even one of the 315 key decision-makers belonged to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes."

The survey was designed and executed by Anil Chamaria, freelance journalist, Jitendra Kumar from the Media Study Group and Yogendra Yadav, senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

If men and women are taken together, the share of upper caste Hindus or `dwijas' in the upper echelons of the media is 85 per cent. These castes account for 16 per cent of the national population.

Brahmins alone, the survey found, hold 49 per cent of the top jobs in national journalism. If non-`dwija' forward castes like Marathas, Patels, Jats and Reddys are added, the total forward caste share stands at 88 per cent.

In contrast, OBCs, who are estimated to constitute around 40 per cent of the population, account for an "abysmally low" four per cent of top media jobs. In the English print media, OBCs account for just one per cent of top jobs and in the Hindi print media eight per cent. Muslims too, the survey noted, are "severely under-represented in the national media": they account for only three per cent among the key decision makers in the national media, compared with 13.4 per cent in the country's population.

Muslims do better in the Hindi electronic media, forming six per cent of key decision-makers. In the English electronic media, the survey found there were no Muslims at the senior-most levels in Delhi. Christians, however, are proportionately represented in the media (mainly in the English media). Their share is about four per cent compared with their population share of 2.3 per cent.

Doubly disadvantaged sections of the population, such as women Other Backward Classes or backward caste Muslims and Christians, are nearly absent among the key decision-makers. The survey, for example, found that there was not a single OBC woman among the 315 journalists enumerated.

Gender balance

When it comes to gender balance, the English electronic media does best, with women accounting for 32 per cent of the top jobs. Women account for 16 per cent of top editorial positions in the English print media and 14 per cent and 11 per cent in the Hindi print media and electronic media. Explaining the survey methodology, Yogendra Yadav said details of designation, age, religion, caste, gender, mother tongue, and domicile of up to a maximum of 10 key decision-makers from 37 `national' media organisations were collected on a standard pro-forma between May 30 and June 3, 2006. In most cases, the data were generated by journalists from within each newspaper or television channel being surveyed. But he cautioned that the data might still contain some errors.