Full text: Reuters Institute India Digital News Report [PDF 4.14 MB]

Despite the popularity of online news and social media platforms, India's legacy media are far more widely used by respondents, according to a survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford. The Hindu Group features in the top 10 news brands by reach in the "TV, Radio, and Print" and "Online" categories. The Hindu was jointly ranked fourth in the "TV, Radio, and Print" category and The Hindu Online was ranked seventh in the "Online" category.


Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Professor of Political Communication, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Given how important and interesting it is, India has always been conspicuously absent from the Reuters Institute annual Digital News Report. I am therefore very glad that support from a wide range of different Indian sponsors has now enabled us to produce this, the first stand-alone pilot India Digital News Report, in time to inform discussions of news and media in India in advance of the 2019 elections.

We publish this study at a time of dramatic change in the Indian media, some of it promising, some of it troubling. The past few years have seen explosive growth in especially mobile internet access, and even though broadcast media and printed newspapers are still doing better in India than in many other markets, the rapid move to digital media will have profound implications for the practice of journalism, the business of news, media institutions, and thus by extension political and public life in India. We have seen rapid growth in online audiences across websites, social media, and more, but also mounting challenges to the business of news as advertising moves to digital media. This shift coincides with a changing political environment where activists, parties, and politicians are enthusiastically embracing digital media, sometimes circumventing editorial gatekeepers, sometimes attacking them directly, attacks that contribute to wider concerns over media freedom in India.

We are glad to be able to offer this report as a snapshot of this development and how the rise of mobile media, social media platforms, and messaging applications is in the process of changing how Indians access news and engage with it, including low trust in much news and rising concerns about various kinds of disinformation. We hope our analysis will help inform decision making among Indian journalists and publishers, as well as among policy makers and among the large US-based technology companies that play an increasingly important role in the Indian media environment.

The report is a pilot study in the sense that it deals exclusively with a small (but important) subset of the Indian media market, namely English-language news users with internet access. We hope to be able to do more work in the future to shed more empirical light on news and media habits among Hindi and vernacular language users across the country, perhaps with time including a more comprehensive study to cover the hundreds of millions of Indians who still do not have internet access. For the time being, it is important to stress that the results reported here and our wider analysis is exclusively focused on English language Indian internet users, and should not be taken to be representative of India more widely.

Our work here builds on the ongoing, annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report, which in 2018 covered 37 markets across the globe, and in 2019 will for the first time include Africa too, with the addition of South Africa. We are hugely grateful to our sponsors who have now enabled us to do similar work in India, namely, The Hindu Media Group, The Quint, the Indian Express, and the Press Trust of India. We are also grateful to our polling company YouGov, who did everything possible to help us expand our research into India for the first time and helped our research team to analyse and contextualise the data.

The 25-page Report, authored by Zeenab Aneez, Taberez Ahmed Neyazi, Anotnis Kalgeropoulous, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, can be accessed here

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