DRS (UGC SAP) Democracy, Diversity And Pluralism

Concept Note

This research project aims at explaining and predicting differences in news content with regard to factors inherent in the political system, political culture, media system and media culture of a country. To that end, the proposed project will develop a model for measuring and explaining news content from a cross-regional perspective. The underlying assumption is that differing structural conditions favor different patterns of journalistic behavior and values. Based on the results of this analysis, the project also aims at assessing the quality of news coverage in selected regions in India with regard to normative standards for democratic quality of news. The question of what model of democracy a national media system assists and endorses lies at the heart of this study.

Project Overview

News plays a crucial role in processes of governance through the words and images they convey of political actors, issues and institutions. Drawing on key concepts in social sciences and developments in the media environment, the research programme finds it necessary to rigorously profile the changing nature of the landscape of the news media in India. Some of these changes have risen from the proliferation of new media technologies and their enabling environment, others from the nature of the commercial and political entrants into the news business, while still others emerged from the loyalties commanded by news outlets.

This leads us to scrutinise the role of news, and including that on new/digital platforms, in the shaping of governance. Three core levels of analysis may be elucidated here:

  • How do news outlets in different regions and languages within India create, or impede, diversity?
  • What is the nature of pluralism reflected in the institutional character of the news landscape as a whole?
  • And what kind of robust indicators could be imagined to construct a media index as a marker of democratisation.

Project Team