The Future of News in India

All Reports & Reports by ALTR (Applied Law and Tech Research) · April 30, 2020
Author(s): Akriti Gaur, Aniruddh Nigam and Sreyan Chatterjee

Sustaining credible print journalism and orienting digital news to the public good

The news industry today stands at a vital crossroads. The worsening economic health of print journalism threatens its ability to credibly inform the public and act as an institutional check upon power. The environment of digital news, on the other hand, operates in a vacuum of regulation. The emergence of a post-truth paradigm in public communications and the widespread proliferation of misinformation are barriers to realising the benefits of digital news distribution. Vidhi’s new report ‘The Future of News in India: Sustaining Credibility in an Age of Digital Transformation‘ aims to ensure that high-quality journalism can transition into the era of digital communications in a manner that aligns with the public good. The report examines the digital transformation of the Indian news environment from a regulatory perspective.

Research focus

1. News and the internet: An inquiry into how the print news industry has evolved in the internet era.

2. News on the internet: An analysis of the state of news on digital mediums such as online websites, social media platforms, and news aggregators.

Objective

Recommendations of the report are geared towards:

1. Sustaining credible print journalism

2. Orienting digital news to the public good

Recommendations

The Future of News in India 2

1. Institutional reforms: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s Department of Audio-Visual Promotion (DAVP) is a crucial node in channelling state support to newspapers in the form of advertisements. The department must be provided institutional autonomy from bureaucratic control, and measures to bring about transparency and accountability should be introduced. This would channel state support to newspapers in an equitable and transparent manner.

2. Checking the dominance of online advertising platforms: The advertisement-revenue model for digital news may be displaying indications of market failure. To orient the market for digital news towards the public good, the role and practices of online advertising platforms must be systematically studied by a specialised authority. An investigation by the Competition Commission of India into the dominance of online advertising platforms could be a starting point.

3. Enacting comprehensive light-touch measures to address misinformation: The entire chain of misinformation needs to be addressed in order to effectively tackle the crisis of misinformation. The report suggests a range of legislative, co-regulatory and voluntary measures which provide an integrated framework to prevent the spread of misinformation and enhance reader literacy.

4. Imposing appropriate responsibilities on digital news entities: The legal vacuum for digital news needs to be filled in a manner which is sensitive to the nuances of online discourse. The report recommends granting limited powers to the Press Council of India, in conjunction with a voluntary registration procedure and the development of a brief, accessible code of conduct as a mechanism for the imposition of editorial responsibility. The role of online platforms in the distribution of news should be addressed through targeted interventions based on the design aspects of such platforms.

Read and download the full report here. 


About Akriti Gaur:

Akriti is a Senior Resident Fellow with the Public Law vertical. At Vidhi, she has advised several Ministries and public institutions of the Government of India, and the State Governments of Delhi and Karnataka. She has advised on projects relating to privacy and data protection, regulation of the digital economy, platform governance, cybersecurity and allied areas at the intersection of law and technology. She has also worked on research projects relating to school and higher education, public health, transport and urban governance, digital inclusion etc. Her research interests include constitutional law, governance reforms, tech policy, education and child rights, media law etc. Akriti graduated with a B.A. LL.B (Business Law Hons.) from the National Law University, Jodhpur in 2015. She regularly writes for media outlets such as the Hindu, Wire, Indian Express, EPW, Financial Express etc. She has published academic articles in journals like the Indian Journal of International Law and the Comparative Constitutional Law and Administrative Law Quarterly, and contributed Book chapters to volumes published by the Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press (forthcoming). Link to full bio


About Aniruddh Nigam:

Aniruddh is a Research Fellow with the Public Law vertical. His research interests lie at the intersection of law, technology and political economy. Aniruddh graduated from the National Law School, Bangalore in 2019. He has interned at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, Delhi, and was a Research Affiliate at the Quality of Governance project at IIM, Bangalore, where he was involved with designing empirical methods for policy research. He has previously written for the Oxford Human Rights Hub blog, and served as the Chief Editor of the NLS Business Law Review. In his spare time, he enjoys reading critical theory and playing video games. Link to full bio.


About Sreyan Chatterjee:

Sreyan is a Research Fellow working with the Research Director’s Office under the Public Law vertical. He has worked in the areas of financial regulation and insolvency laws. At Vidhi, he is involved in projects related to the regulation of the digital economy. His research interests include technology and law, the future of work and labour regulations. Sreyan graduated from West Bengal National University of Judicial Sciences in 2016. He has published in media outlets like the Statesman and Bloomberg Quint and in academic journals such as Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law and the National Law School of India Review. Prior to Vidhi, he has worked at Trilegal as a banking lawyer and subsequently at Finance Research Group as a researcher where he was involved in building India’s first insolvency case-law database.