This is an excerpt from the introduction to The Hoot Reader: Media Practice in Twenty-First Century India edited by SUBARNO CHATTARJI and SEVANTI NINAN. The Reader commemorates a decade of TheHoot.org, still the only media-watch platform of its kind in India.
The notion of media power has come to loom large in India over the last decade, and has led to inevitable scrutiny of those who wield it. The men and women chasing stories become stories themselves when their first take is scrutinized to present a second take, to judge if that first draft of history was a job well done, or whether it was lazily or unethically constructed. Media criticism had been dormant in India over decades of journalistic practice, but its advent and subsequent blossoming are celebrated in this volume. Because, to report how the media covers India, is to report on the complexity and promise of India itself.
The decade of 2001–11 was when coalition politics took firm hold, terrorism began to rival militancy in attention commanded, naxalism spread, digital communication expanded, and the media became a noisy beast that grabbed more mind space than before. The North-East became less of a blank spot and Kashmir remained a media Mecca. Through it all, the old challenges remained as the media stories here bear witness—hunger did not disappear, women in flooded areas looked for secluded spaces to defecate in, caste prejudices thwarted aspiration, and so on. As subjects sexy and dreary competed for space, many stories also went untold. Continue reading Grappling with media: The Hoot Reader