Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
News as Culture

News as Culture: Journalistic Practices and the Remaking of Indian Leadership Traditions

Ursula Rao
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 228
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    News as Culture
    Book Description:

    At the turn of the millennium, Indian journalism has undergone significant changes. The rapid commercialization of the press, together with an increase in literacy and political consciousness, has led to swift growth in the newspaper market but also changed the way news makers mediate politics. Positioned at a historical junction where India is clearly feeling the effects of market liberalization, this study demonstrates how journalists and informants interactively create new forms of political action and consciousness. The book explores English and Hindi newsmaking and investigates the creation of news relations during the production process and how they affect political images and leadership traditions. It moves beyond the news-room to outline the role of journalists in urban society, the social lives of news texts and the way citizens bring their ideas and desires to bear on the news discourse.

    This important volume contributes to an emerging debate about the impact of the media on Indian society. Furthermore, it convincingly demonstrates the inseparable link between media related practices and dynamic cultural repertoires.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-833-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Ursula Rao
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    I travelled to Lucknow in October 1999 to start my research on press institutions and political journalism. I was nervous about beginning fieldwork in a city I had never visited and in which I had no friends and relatives. My worries were aggravated by accounts I had read about anthropologists ‘studying up’ (Nader 1999 [1969]).¹ Academics working in elite institutions, like the press, had found it difficult to become a trusted member in these companies. Hence, I expected many obstacles. The experience of my first week seemed to disprove all the warning voices. After only five days in the field,...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Lucknow News
    (pp. 21-44)

    In this chapter I wish to broaden the introduction and provide a background to my observations of news networks in the following chapters. I will begin by describing the newspaper market in Lucknow and the rationale for my selection of companies. In the second half, I describe typical work routines of journalists and the internal hierarchies within the news organisations.

    This serves two purposes. At a descriptive level I shall provide an overview of press work, describe diagrammatically the local scene, positions and functions of employees and explain the terminology used to refer to them. At the interpretative level I...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Local Voices: Empowerment through News-Making
    (pp. 45-90)

    This chapter moves into an in-depth discussion of local news production. The organisational overview drew my attention to the expansive nature of local teams. Hindi newspapers engage large numbers of city reporters, stringers, informants and freelancers to penetrate all corners of the city and ensure a regular flow of information from the grassroots. Moving through the system, this information is turned into local news and offered to urban readers as reflecting their interests and environment. The policy decision to offer the newspaper as platform for local communication is complemented by people’s love of publicity. Citizens nurture press connections in order...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Political Reporting: Sites of Engagement – Performances of Distance
    (pp. 91-142)

    This chapter continues the debate about the effectiveness of press work in the structuring of social relations and the production of a public sphere. From local news-making, I now move on to investigate writing about established political institutions and their representatives, this being the most popular and most sought-after domain of reporting. The argument focuses on the involvement of journalists in political negotiations and their active contribution towards bringing about the very results which they are reporting. The working days of political reporters are dominated by an unspectacular routine, the tedious exercises in networking and the requirement to turn redundant...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Infotainment: Re-Writing Politics after Economic Liberalisation
    (pp. 143-192)

    In this chapter I turn to commercialisation as the second major trend in news-making, underlying and complementing regionalisation. Newspapers have embarked on a transformation from political organs to infotaining products. How does this impact on media perceptions of the political class? In this chapter I will follow articles which are critical of leaders. I will outline the contours of a news policy that favours the corporate sector and unravel novel forms of political criticism developed in the shadow of the new market friendly approach. Three developments underpin this process: (1) the growing financial independence of newspapers from party funds; (2)...

  11. 6. Conclusions
    (pp. 193-202)

    News as culture is a study of news-making as politics and of politics. My discussion interrogated the intersection between journalists’ activities and the media-related actions of publicity-seeking citizens, politicians and corporations, at a historical juncture, where commercialising is transforming the press. Newspapers have inherited from modernisation discourses the idea of an objective press, whose aim is to educate and inform the citizens. This ideal is recast in an environment that has begun to devalue politics and depoliticise public culture. Journalists readily express their disillusionment with the political class in their writing, while becoming servants of a ‘new master’, the corporate...

  12. References
    (pp. 203-216)
  13. Index
    (pp. 217-224)