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Lokniti survey: 82 per cent of journalists think their organisations are biased towards BJP
The Lokniti Survey found that journalists were hesitant to freely express their views on social media or messaging platforms due to the fear of job loss
At least 82 per cent of journalists think their media organisations are biased towards BJP and close to three in four surveyed journalists believed that news channels were “less free” to do their job properly these days whereas a little over half (55%) felt newspapers are “less free”.
These were some of the findings of the Lokniti-CSDS report titled Media in India: Trends and Patterns, where 206 journalists representing various media platforms (digital, print, and online), language backgrounds (English, Hindi, and regional languages) and gender were surveyed. 75 per cent of the participants were male and 37 per cent of those surveyed were above the age of 46. Majority of those surveyed (41 per cent) were from Hindi media and 32 per cent from English media.
Politics of media organisations
Three-fourths of the journalists surveyed agreed that there is favoritism towards one particular political party and four in five amongst them said that news media favoured the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The data underscored the need for greater media neutrality as merely eight per cent of journalists believed that media covered the opposition parties favourably and 13 per cent perceived the coverage as balanced.
Close to three in four surveyed journalists believed that news channels were “less free” to do their job properly these days whereas a little over half (55 per cent) felt newspapers are “less free”. This perception was not that strong for the online news websites as 36 per cent had same opinion online news websites. At least 72 per cent of those in news channels said there was a decrease in freedom compared to newspapers to do their jobs.
Has news coverage worsened?
Additionally, there was a perception of declining reputation and respect for journalism as a profession. A significant portion of journalists expressed dissatisfaction with the standards of journalism followed in news organisations, suggesting concerns about the quality of news coverage by different media platforms. Nearly four in five journalists believed that coverage of news on TV channels had worsened.
However, three in five journalists were also concerned about the deterioration on the quality of news coverage by the newspapers. It should be noted that the journalists had some trust online news media websites as 30 per cent believed that the news coverage by the online news websites has improved.
The perception of deterioration in media coverage across new channels was higher among the English language journalists (85 per cent) than journalists in Hindi (78 per cent) and other languages (69 per cent). At least 67 per cent of those in English newspapers believed coverage by newspapers had deteriorated, while it was 54 per cent in case of those with Hindi newspapers and 62 per cent in case of those working in other language newspapers.
Are journalists free to do their jobs?
The survey pointed to the fact that journalists were hesitant to freely express their views on social media
or messaging platforms due to the fear of job loss. While two-fifths of journalists never felt hesitant to share their personal opinions on social media due to their job loss, nearly one-third journalists (36 per cent) felt hesitant to share their personal opinions many times.
Stress of being a journalist
The study indicated towards the adverse impact of media jobs on journalists' mental and physical well-being. It revealed that a significant proportion of journalists have experienced adverse effects on their mental and physical health due to the demanding nature of their profession; 7 out of 10 journalists experienced mental stress due to the work pressure. Women journalists were more affected by mental stress compared to their male counterparts.
At least 15 per cent of both men and women who were surveyed said that they were highly affected by the job environment, while 34 per cent of the men said they were not at all affected. However, only 15 per cent of the women shared the same sentiment.
Is there job security?
When journalists were asked about job layoffs in their organisation due to political leanings, the findings suggest that half (52 per cent) of journalists reported no instances of such action within their organizations. However, 16 per cent of journalists had experienced job layoffs or witnessed colleagues being asked to quit their jobs due to their political leanings, ideology, or opinions.
Further, when journalists were asked about their own anxiety on losing their own jobs due to their political leaning, nearly one in three (31 per cent) shared their concerns, 15 per cent being moderately anxious and 16 per cent were highly anxious for losing their jobs in future due to their political leanings.
Most journalists were worried about their job security too as three in five journalists reported that people in their organisations were asked to leave their jobs to reduce costs and maintain economic stability. Journalists working in English media were significantly affected as close to three in four (77 per cent) journalists working in English media said that people in their organizations were asked to quit the jobs. In the Hindi media, 47 per cent of those surveyed said people in their organizations were asked to leave, while it was 50 per cent for other languages.
Close to half of the journalists surveyed were anxious about losing their jobs and nearly one in five were found to be highly anxious. The anxiety about losing their jobs was more prevalent among mid-career journalists (17 per cent) as compared to the senior journalists (16 per cent). It was also found that women journalists as compared to their male counterparts were more apprehensive about potential job loss due to cost-cutting.
Has social media helped journalism?
While social media has quickened the pace of information dissemination, there was a divided opinion on the impact of social media on journalism. Majority (two-fifths) believed that social media is equally good and bad for journalist, 35 per cent considered it bad for journalism, while 40 per cent said social media was equally good and bad for journalism.
Journalists also acknowledged the influence of social media trends on news coverage; close to half of journalists believed that in the last few years, social media trends shaped the news content in their news originations. TV news journalists (35 per cent), as compared to print and digital media journalists, thought their organisations were greatly influenced by the social media trends while preparing news content. It was only 17 per cent for print journalists and 13 percent in case of digital media organisations.
Journalist also shared their concerns about receiving inaccurate information from the internet and social media, with nearly three-fourths of journalists expressing a very high level of concern about being misled by inaccurate information on social media and 15 per cent were somewhat concerned.
The survey highlighted that women journalists faced comparatively more trolling than their male counterparts; 70 per cent of women journalists reported experiencing trolling or online abuse, whereas 63 per cent of male journalists reported the same.
The findings also suggested that nearly half (52 per cent) of the women journalists surveyed felt that social media platforms were “extremely unsafe” for their privacy, indicating significant concerns about their posts and activities being monitored by someone they don't know or don't want to share information with. This is substantially higher compared to male journalists, where 37 per cent of the male journalists felt the same level of insecurity.