Starting from scratch: Is YouTube a viable option for journalists in India?

Success stories like Ravish Kumar are inspiring, but not everyone can make it.

WrittenBy:Sumedha Mittal
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Five months ago, journalist Sohit Mishra made headlines for staring down a directive from his bosses to “create a ruckus” at a press conference by Rahul Gandhi demanding a probe into allegations against the Adani group.

Crucially, Mishra was the Mumbai bureau chief of NDTV, which had been acquired by Adani in December 2022. 

Mishra refused to toe the line. He resigned. A week later, he was asked to leave without serving his notice period. Having lost a job that had been a “dream come true”, Mishra contemplated his options. 

Print journalism wasn’t his “cup of tea”. On other news channels, he thought to himself, “If I could not survive in a channel that’s still in the nascent stage of becoming ‘godi’, how would I survive in other channels?”

And so, Mishra set off on a more perilous path – he started his own YouTube channel. He drew inspiration from journalist Ravish Kumar, who had quit NDTV immediately after the Adani takeover and started a successful YouTube channel instead.

Mishra’s first video, uploaded on September 7, got 90,000 views in two days. His second, which bid farewell to his NDTV job, got over 20 lakh views. He then formally launched his channel, Sohit Mishra Official, which currently has over 3.3 lakh subscribers.

But Mishra is one of the lucky ones. In the last few years, corporate media in India has witnessed several takeovers, restructurings and layoffs, and growing resentment against journalists seen as “anti-national”. As journalists departed television newsrooms, many of them turned to YouTube, choosing to take a chance on going it alone.

Some, like Ravish, Mishra and Faye D’Souza, carried their audiences with them. But for journalists who didn’t already have the weight of fame, starting from scratch on YouTube has been arduous.

Fuelled by Adani 

In order to monetise videos on YouTube, a creator has to meet one of three criteria: 500 subscribers with three public uploads in 90 days, 3,000 valid public watch hours in 12 months, or three million public shorts views in 90 days. 

After the Adani takeover of NDTV, a barrage of its top anchors and executives resigned. At least five of them found refuge in YouTube.

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