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L to R: Journalist/author Siddharth Bhatia, Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa, and Hartosh Singh Bal, Political Editor of The Caravan in Mumbai on Apr. 10, 2014. (Asia Society India Centre)
by Radha Venkatraman
11 April 2014

MUMBAI, April 10, 2014 — Asia Society India Centre hosted the second edition in the Censorship & Society series, a discussion featuring Monique Villa, CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Hartosh Singh Bal, Political Editor, The Caravan, and Siddharth Bhatia, journalist and author.

The discussion was kick started by Siddharth Bhatia, highlighting the extensiveness of Indian media, and Monique Villa's narrating the global scene in journalism, about which she said, that there are parts of the world where the industry is thriving, and parts where it is going downhill.

The discussion moved on to an important facet in journalism, i.e., revenue generation, advertisers, and building audience, online in the modern day. Hartosh Singh Bal emphasized that the Indian media is expanding, at a time when media is not a profitable business. The media has expanded, but the constraints with it have also expanded. He also added that India, historically, had a demarcation between the editorial and the ownership, particularly in print media. He also said that the model Indian newspapers are based on, is where the majority of the revenue flows in from advertisers and a meager amount from subscribers.

There were parallels drawn between media industry in India and U.K. Pre-independence, journalists in India were under the wage code and post-liberalization, journalists are under the contract system, institutionalized throughout the industry. The panel underlined the main problem, which is lack of transparency about corporate funding .The role of social media in journalism was pointed out to be crucial. The idea that state has often used idea of national interest, as a form of censorship, is global, was in consensus among all.

Reported by Vishakha Wadhwani, Intern, Asia Society India Centre.

Video: Highlights from the discussion (8 min., 26 sec.)

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