Eighty-seven percent of editors and proprietors at India’s top English and Hindi newspapers are men.
These are the findings from April 2021 to March 2022 and collated in , a report produced by Newslaundry and UN Women and released at The Media Rumble 2022.
While women are better represented in digital media platforms (37.5 percent), they are rarely included in television news panel discussions on defence, sports and business – issues historically coded towards men. The coverage of gender issues is also often restricted to opinion pages.
The study covered seven English and seven Hindi newspapers, 12 magazines and nine digital portals, where data was collected by counting and surveying bylines. For news channels, the report surveyed 1,094 primetime shows on seven English news networks and 981 debates on eight Hindi news channels.
Seventy-five percent of leadership roles (editors and proprietors) across news organisations are held by men. Hindi organisations fared the worst, with less than 10 percent women in senior editorial and ownership roles. Among the seven Hindi newspapers surveyed, four had no women in top roles. English newspapers did better, but not by much – 15 percent of leadership roles were held by women. The Telegraph was an exception, with an equitable distribution of roles between men and women. Statesman and Indian Express had only men in these leadership roles.
Only English news channels crossed the 40 percent threshold for women editors and proprietors. The most equitable split was at NDTV, with 50 percent of roles held by women, while Republic TV stood at zero percent. At Sansad TV, a government initiative, less than a third of proprietors and editors were women.
Among digital news organisations, EastMojo and the News Minute performed best, with 66.67 percent women editors and proprietors. Newslaundry had 20 percent, Swarajya had none.
In the magazine section, Frontline and Outlook Hindi had equal representation of men and women in leadership positions; the other magazines surveyed had either fewer or no women in these positions.
TV panellists and anchors
The report noted a clear gender disparity in panellists invited for debates on news channels.
On Hindi channels, 52 percent of panellists were men. News18 and Republic Bharat had only male anchors for primetime shows. Meanwhile, 75 percent of anchors on ABP News were women. Across 981 debates featuring 1,400 unique panellists on Hindi news channels, 232 were women – barely 16 percent. On India TV, this dropped further to less than 10 percent.
On English news channels, 371 out of a total of 2,019 unique panellists were women across 1,094 primetime shows studied. At 18 percent, this figure is only slightly higher than its Hindi counterpart.
What this means is that across news channels, over 80 percent of panellists are men. The report’s findings in 2019 were exactly the same.
When it came to debates on gender issues, Aaj Tak had zero women panellists. On Sansad, however, 75 percent of panellists for gender issues were women.
The report tried to analyse the correlation between a panellist’s gender and their area of expertise, and also their gender with the debate they had been invited to attend. A preliminary glance reflected graded gender bias. For example, the lowest attendance of women panellists was seen in debates on defence, national security and finance.
TV news anchors on both English and Hindi news channels had fairly equitable representation of 47 and 58 percent, respectively.
Out of 2,939 reporters surveyed at seven English newspapers, only 868 were women, approximately one-third. Women were the subjects of less than eight percent of the reports and authored about 19 percent of them. In Hindi, only 5.51 percent of reports on the front pages are written by women as opposed to 31 percent in English.
Among digital media outlets, Mooknayak had the highest representation of women at 100 percent. Newslaundry English, the Quint and Scroll each had 50 percent.
The report emphasised the importance of not ignoring intersectionality in representation. Over 59 percent of women from the general category got the opportunity to write, far more than women from marginalised communities. Women from SC and ST backgrounds had representation of only 2.87 and 1.05 percent, respectively.
Among 12 magazines surveyed, women journalists comprise only 30.7 percent of the total number of journalists. The percentage dipped to 4.3 percent in writing on defence and national security, where men enjoyed an overt dominance of 95.6 percent.
The report also noted challenges faced in gender-inclusive newsrooms, including harassment, prejudice against women in leadership roles, lack of maternal leave policies, lower compensation for women in media, and gender-based promotion and appraisal systems.
English newspapers: Times of India, Hindustan Times, Hindu, Telegraph, Business Standard, Statesman and Indian Express
Hindi newspapers: Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan, Amar Ujala, Rajasthan Patrika, Prabhat Khabar and Punjab Kesari
English news channels: News18, India Today, Mirror Now, NDTV, Republic TV, Sansad TV and Times Now
Hindi news channels: Aaj Tak, ABP News, News18 India, India TV, NDTV, Republic Bharat, Sansad TV and Zee News
Digital news portals: EastMojo, Firstpost, Scroll, Newslaundry, Swarajya, Mooknayak, News Minute, Quint and Wire
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