The first session of TMR Dispatches, held on Friday, June 26, 2020 focused on the media in North India

TMR Dispatches is a new fortnightly series in the lead-up to the September main event, with an overarching theme of "NEWS" – North, East, West and South. This will include leading news professionals across geographies, and will feature conversations and discussions on some of the most pressing issues and challenges facing India’s news media sector.

The first session of TMR Dispatches, held on Friday, June 26, 2020 focused on the media in North India, titled "Myth or Reality? Hindi and proximity to Delhi give North India an advantage is the news space".

Newslaundry’s Executive Editor, Manisha Pande, was joined by Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Senior Editor at The Wire, Dr Himanshu Dwivedi, Chief Editor of Hari Bhoomi, Shahid Siddiqui, Managing Director and Chief Editor of Nai Duniya, and Sukirat, a writer and columnist from Punjab, on this discussion.

Acknowledging North India’s undisputed penetration into the news media, Arfa said that Hindi channels assume that Hindi-speakers are only interested in news from the Hindi belt and, therefore, think only they should be represented. “Even the channels who call themselves Indian channels are primarily from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while the national channels are only limited to Delhi-NCR, which is funny and tragic,” she said.

Pointing to the media discourse being dominated by the Hindi-speaking belt, Sukirat said that people “naturally gravitate towards Delhi” since the media is “extremely politics-oriented”. While Himanshu agreed that Hindi enjoys undivided importance, he also thought this domination in newsrooms is not “imposed”; instead, it’s only natural in a country that is largely Hindi-speaking.

The discussion also covered the upper-caste dominance in newsrooms. Shahid brought up the media’s obsession of not only being Delhi-centered, but also having a largely urban-elitist narrative. An Urdu writer himself, Siddiqui said he’s disappointed with Hindi “destroying” the Urdu language. He also addressed the monopolisation of media houses, like the Times of India or Hindustan Times, who not only “address the viewers, but also manufacture news for their sponsors, politicians, and those from whom they will benefit”.

The hour-long discussion also touched upon news media building and running propaganda, the advocacy of the “real” and the “representation”, the objectivity of truth, and the communalisation of the media.

TMR Dispatches Schedule

Friday, 10 July 2020

5:00 PM IST

East India – We don’t need no mainstream: Our stories, our storytellers

Friday, 24 July, 2020

5:00 PM IST

West India – Mumbai’s Lutyens: Is entertainment journalism all about access?

Friday, 24 August, 2020

5:00 PM IST

South India – Reclaiming centre space in news: A robust market and innovation hub

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