Webinar: How India’s media covers agriculture and how a data-led approach can help

A webinar series by Newslaundry and India Data Portal.

ByNL Team
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Newslaundry, in collaboration with the India Data Portal project of the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, ISB, is organising a series of monthly webinars on specific datasets created by the platform, which is a one-stop open-access portal for journalists to use, interact with and visualise information, data and knowledge on agriculture and financial inclusion.

The second webinar, titled “A data-led approach to India’s agri-economy”, was organised on September 25.

Moderated by Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, the panelists were Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman of the Bharat Krishak Samaj; Parth MN, principal correspondent with IndiaSpend; Aparna Karthikeyan, author and independent journalist; and Nidhi Jamwal, environmental editor and head of the English desk of Gaon Connection.

Abhinandan asks Ajay on the volume and nature of coverage given by the media to agriculture. “There’s a difference both in the amount and the kind of coverage,” Ajay says. “If you look at the number of people and livelihoods and the portion available in the media as a percentage of the people involved in the profession — obviously, agriculture hardly gets anything.”

Parth says, “I feel the mainstream media doesn’t cover [agriculture] because it doesn’t sell. It’s not sexy enough to write on agriculture. It’s a business-driven model in the mainstream media: that if a migrant worker doesn’t pick up our English language newspaper or watch our shows, then why should we talk about that person?”

On using data to report on stories, Nidhi says, “A lot of journalists have no capacity to do stories based on data because we’ve never bothered to train them in data journalism.” Aparna points out that rural India is only covered when “something really dramatic” happens. “We leave out the everyday process,” she says.

The panel also discusses the usefulness of having open source data in one place, and the logistics and future of data-backed journalism.


Transcription by Diksha Munjal


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