Reading India’s mainstream English language newspapers and magazines, and viewing the electronic media one realizes that news reports and columns by Muslim journalists are rare. If we go by our population, the authors of about 10 percent or more of reports and columns should be Muslims. But in reality only about 1 % of reports and columns are authored by Muslims. At the national level there are just about half a dozen English language Muslim journalists whose reports appear in the national dailies.
In the whole of India, 65 years after independence there are only two small English language biweekly newspaper (Milli Gazette, Madhyam) and three online electronic websites (Two Circles News, Indian Muslim Observer, Ummid.com) that are operated by the Muslim community.
There are quite a few Urdu language newspapers that are operated by the Muslim community. But their readership is limited entirely to Muslims and generally they confine themselves to happenings in the Muslim community. Thus whatever is published in Urdu newspapers has hardly any chance of reaching mainstream India that comprises of a large number of secular Hindus.
That brings us to the question as to why there are so few English language Muslim journalists in India and why Muslim journalists are not writing for mainstream Indian media (Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Hindu, India Today, Sunday, IBN, NDTV etc).
A review of the few English language Muslim outlets that exist, indicates that these outlets spend most of their space in writing about Muslim community’s complaints of injustice from the Indian government authorities, complaints against injustice to Muslims from Western governments, the rabid pronouncements of the extremist Hindu groups and coverage of personalities and events in other Muslim countries. Thus their readability for secular Hindus who may want to feel the pulse of India’s Muslims, is very small; and there is very little material of national interest there that non-Muslims want to read in a newspaper, whether print or electronic.
The Urdu media aside from being in a language that Hindus can not read is also full of the internal politics of Muslim groups and individuals and the internecine conflicts of various Muslim religious leaders and sects. All in all their utility in communicating the community’s issues and situation to mainstream India is almost non-existent.
The Indian mainstream media writes about the Muslim community only when major events happen, eg the recent UP and west Bengal elections where Muslim votes swung the election, or if a major Hindu-Muslim congflagration takes place, eg Gujarat genocide. That news too lasts just a few days. The coverage of the Muslim community’s recent vociferous and continuing demands for implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations and reservation has received only infrequent coverage in the mainstream media. The reports on the Batla House conflagration and the plight of Azamgarh’s Muslim youth lasted a few days and then disappeared.
A few Indian Muslim journalists write in some Arab newspapers like Arab News, Khaleej Times etc. But those reports almost always appear to be either about the social events of the NRI Muslims in those countries, or about the oil-rich Muslim countries, or about the past glory of Muslim nations in the centuries gone by, or writeups on global Muslim politics. Again, not much for non-Muslims who are looking to learn about the present state of affairs of the Muslims of India.
The question remains that if the Indian Muslim community has to bring improvement in its very backward condition, it has to influence the large number of secular Hindus and together with them the major political parties and the government. Journalists and media – print and electronic – are some of the major weapons in today’s public relations war to change the policies of the Indian state. The first step is to change the perceptions of secular Hindus who are the majority of India’s Hindu population about Muslims. If Muslims remain cutoff from mainstream Indian media, and remain preoccupied in our narrow world of complaints, internal politics, other Muslim countries, mutual appreciation etal; and if Muslim journalists’ reports about the community’s ground realities are not being published in adequate numbers in mainstream media, then we are missing a golden opportunity. We simply can not be happy talking about the past glory of Muslims, or the glory of oil-rich Muslim countries or complaining that the world is against us. Because communicating with and influencing India’s secular Hindus in a democracy and a country where Hindus are 80% of the population, is an essential need of our community’s national strategy. Indian Muslim journalists can fill this essential need of the community.
Thus it is incumbent for Muslim journalists in India to redouble their efforts to find a place in the mainstream English media more frequently. Only a handful of successful mainsteeam Muslim journalists like MJ Akbar, Saeed Naqvi, Seema Mustafa cannot do the job. Of course there is a big need for more quality English language Indian Muslim journalists who are in very short supply.
, the Telegraph reported
that the Guardian
was planning another round of job cuts. Although the Guardian
has built one of the most popular news websites in the world, the revenues from its digital operations still don’t come close to compensating for the decline in print sales and the loss of associated advertising revenues. In the year to March, the publication reportedly lost £45 million.
Yet newspapers have little option but to follow their readers online. Last month, the editor, Alan Rusbridger, told staff
at the Guardian
that they had to “move beyond the newspaper, shifting focus, effort and investment towards digital, because that is our future”.
At the beginning of the year, the Guardian
was reporting redundancies at the Telegraph
. And since then, there has been no let-up in the bad news for employment in the newspaper business in Britain. Trinity Mirror and Johnston Media have cut staff in an effort to protect their profit margins. Some daily newspapers are losing their evening editions
and others are being turned into weekly publications
The situation in the US newspaper industry is somewhat further advanced. Papers with national reach and scale have suffered massive losses, while the regional press has had to make do with fewer and fewer staff. More than 100 titles have closed and print circulation is way down on what it was a decade ago, although there are signs that online subscriptions are starting to pick up. The New York Times
, for example, created a paywall in March 2011 and now has more than 800,000 online subscribers. On the other hand, advertising revenues for the US industry as a whole – print and online – fell by 7.3 per cent
in 2011 on the previous year, to $23.9 billion. In 2005, advertising peaked at more than twice that, at $49.4 billion.
Even allowing for the sluggish economy, there’s no reason to think that newspapers’ advertising revenues are going to return to their former levels. Newspapers have always been an aggregation of things that might interest readers – news stories, of course, but also opinion pieces, letters pages, crosswords, gossip columns, pictures of kittens, cartoon strips. Classified ads brought lonely hearts, buyers and sellers, friends and families of the newly born and the recently dead, as well as the idly curious, to the paper. The internet is busy disassembling the newspaper and reorganising its constituent elements in new forms.
| Inside Story Americas:
The death of the newspaper?
n future, news operations will be competing for advertising revenues with sites that concentrate on one element of what print newspapers used to bundle together. Advertisers are going to migrate to those that can help them target potential customers with pinpoint accuracy. That, at any rate, is the theory behind the Facebook flotation. As for classified advertising, much of that has already been taken away by operations such as Craigslist (not to mention eBay).
But people still want news. We don’t all wake up every morning wondering what we’ve missed. But we have more than a passing interest in what happens in the world beyond our immediate experience. The question is – how are we going to ensure that we get the journalism we need? The record of the old media was patchy in this regard, as I and many others never tire of pointing out. And while the internet has made it far easier to find independent reporting and analysis, as John Dewey once noted, “knowledge cooped up private consciousness is a myth; a thing is fully known when it is published, shared, socially accessible”. The current structure of the industry empowers a handful of executives in very large media companies to decide what is “socially accessible”.
Business of selling informationreadmore http://muslimmalaysiareview.blogspot.com/2012/07/future-of-news-business-of-selling.html?zx=a21f733a11174f4a