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date: 01 December 2022

Challenges to Press Freedom in Indialocked

Challenges to Press Freedom in Indialocked

  • Kalyani ChadhaKalyani ChadhaMedill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
  •  and Sachin AryaSachin AryaSchool of Communication Studies, Auckland University of Technology

Summary

Since the late 1990s, the news media landscape in India has experienced widespread and arguably transformative shifts that are manifest in the explosive growth of media outlets and consumption at both national and regional levels. As of 2021, the country has over 100,000 registered periodicals and newspapers, with 17,000 dailies that report a combined circulation of over 240 million copies according to government data, as well as an estimated 400 news and current affairs channels and numerous news-related websites. Yet despite the existence of a seemingly dynamic and expansive news landscape, many observers have expressed significant concerns about the independence of the Fourth Estate in the world’s largest democracy. According to the annual World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the media watchdog group Reporters without Borders, India has experienced a steady decline in press freedom since 2015, slipping from a position of 135/180 in 2015 to 140/180 in 2019, and 142 in the 2020 report. At present, India ranks behind most of its neighbors, including Afghanistan (122), Bhutan (67), Nepal (112), and Sri Lanka (127). Thus, even though the writers of India’s constitution clearly recognized the right to the freedom of the press as an essential part of the freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and this right has generally been upheld in court, the space for the free expression of views and critique by the press—widely recognized as crucial to democratic functioning—has been shrinking consistently in the Indian context due to a variety of threats ranging from physical violence and intimidation of journalists, and government pressure on news outlets to structural economic forces.

Subjects

  • International/Global Communication
  • Mass Communication

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