I intend to try to provide abstract/synopsis of doctoral theses in Communication, Journalism, and other related domains. The idea is to help to doctoral scholars and media teachers to know what is being studied elsewhere in India. This, I presume, will help them offer ‘Indian’ references in their studies/research papers. I request all of you to please mail softcopy in MS Word file (Times New Roman, 12 point, single space) with the PhD scholar’s photograph, Guide’s name, the name of the University and date of award of PhD degree by the University.
Here is the first post of a thesis:
Synopsis of the doctoral thesis by
What Makes News in the Indian Media?
A recipient point of view of political news in India.
Dr. Sanjay Ranade
Dr. Sanjay Ranade
Department of Communication and Journalism,
University of Mumbai
Under the guidance of Dr Venkatesh Kumar,
Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
The broad issues
If journalism is seen as the process of investigating the use of power by individuals and institutions then an academic and a journalist must combine their forces. The research was driven by this desire. It addressed the following questions.
The news media are an important feature of civil society and the scope of their contribution to the process of democratisation is a matter of debate as well as concern, especially as commercialisation adds the dimension of profit making to an otherwise social institution. This has made it necessary to promote a public dialogue of democracy. How much of this dialogue on politics is happening between readers and their newspapers?
Why is it that some people follow the news while others don't?
Has the press-politician-public news triangle led to a dysfunctional communication order where everyone is dissatisfied with the other?
With respect to political news, are consumers able to separate fact from fiction, are they able to evaluate the news facts and are they able to create an alternative interpretation of the reality presented to them? Is news credible?
What makes news? If news is the outcome of organisational politics and the output of organisational routine what is the participation of the reader in this? Especially given the situation that the reader is not organised as media organisationsand the State are?
Are pressures of high costs and complex organisation forcing media organisations to reach out to similar organisations like the State for news?
The specifics addressed by the thesis
The thesis proposed to test the following hypotheses:
· Political news represented by the Mumbai print media through the daily newspaper matches its readers' perception of what makes news.
· That this is true of both the English language broadsheet newspapers as well as the Marathi language newspapers published in Mumbai.
In this regard, the proposed research probed the following questions:
1. Do readers of political news view news critically and a) separate fact from fiction, b) evaluate the news facts and c) create an alternative interpretation of what they read.
2. What, according to the readers, are the political issues being represented in the Mumbai print media?
3. What are the political issues that readers expect their newspaper to represent?
4. Are these political issues represented by the newspapers?
5. Do the readers set their own political priorities based upon what makes political news in the newspaper or do they follow a different set of parameters?
The methodology and method
The research began with the analysis of the content of the following newspapers - The Times of India, The Indian Express, Hindustan Times, DNA, Maharashtra Times, Loksatta, Lokmat, Saamna, Bahujanratna Lokanayak and Vruttaratna Samrat. These newspapers represent the broadest possible spectrum of English and Marathi language newspapers and their readers in Mumbai.
The researcher next employed multi-stage sampling that included forming clusters, non probability random sampling and snowball sampling of newspaper readers of ten newspapers in Mumbai. The researcher surveyed 30 readers of each of the ten newspapers taken for analysis.
Political news represented by the Mumbai print media matches readers' perception of what makes news. Sophisticated news requires sophisticated readers and to become a sophisticated, readers need sophisticated journalism. The demand for political news from readers of newspapers and the representation of political news in the Mumbai print media would see a rise in the coming years. This also signifies that Mumbai's newspapers are contributing to the building of social capital
The research demonstrated that the newspaper is a significant tool for all round engagement with the State, the market as well as the civil society for the citizens.
News is being consumed critically and news facts are being evaluated carefully by the readers of the newspapers. There is a high degree of positive congruence between what newspapers are representing as political news and what the readers perceive. A significant number of readers believe that this news makes them think.
These overall impressions are different when language of the newspaper is taken into account.
The media universe of the reader of the English language newspaper reader is much broader in terms of content than that of the reader of the Marathi Language newspaper reader. The English readers are accessing other media including TV, Internet and mobile phones whereas the Marathi readers are combining newspaper with TV. Engagement of the Marathi newspaper readers with politics is higher than that of English readers. Readers of Marathi newspapers are following political news more than any other category of news, are shifting towards television for both news and entertainment, appear more uncritical of news, are more engaged with civil society and at the same time are more cynical about the political system and distrustful of politicians compared to English language newspaper readers.
English language newspaper readers are consuming a wide variety of media. Their interest in political news is less compared to the Marathi language newspaper readers.
Readers are consuming media more for curiosity and surveillance, for social and psychological development and as a learned behaviour rather than for entertainment and escape. Constraints of time and the influence of TV are the two important reasons for people not keeping up with the news.
While the press-politician-public triangle appears to be operating well now it appears that this situation will be upset leading to a dysfunction in the communication order.
In conclusion we can say that readers of newspapers are in a stage of liminality - they have not tuned out news nor newspapers but at the same time are increasing their consumption of other media. A new universe where newspaper readers will build parallel relationships with other media and where newspapers will have to engage with other media to grab the attention of and reach out to readers is in the making in Mumbai.
Are readers able to create an alternative interpretation of their own about the version of political reality handed down to them by their newspapers?
Is political news shaping the political reality of the readers?
Would TV be the biggest hurdle in the way of the newspaper revolution predicted by Robin Jefffrey?
Dr Sanjay Ranade can be contacted at email@example.com