Media as Activism

India International Centre-Annexe, New Delhi

Sponsoring Institutions

  • Social Science Research Council, New York: Transregional Virtual Research Institute
  • Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi: Inclusive Media for Change project
  • Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
  • University of Göttingen, Germany: Centre for Modern Indian Studies


This conference examines how in different regions across Asia the media have emerged as political agents in their own right, seeking to actively intervene in and influence social-political processes and contexts. In marked contrast to the view of media as passive and neutral reflections of existing social and political worlds, a particular notion of a "crusading media" that advocates for some notion of "national interest" or "public interest" is dominant in the regions that we study. Moreover, belying expectations about the individualizing effects of commercial media, this trend has become particularly pronounced in the era of media commercialization. 

To understand the genesis and implications of such an "activist media" requires an engagement with questions of media ownership; social composition of the media; networks and relations between media and other social and political actors; media practices such as investigative journalism and tabloid journalism; targeting of different media publics imagined along lines of class/caste, ethnicity, religion, gender, rural versus urban. The workshop will explore these questions, with an overall aim of understanding the distinctive contours of media activism in these regions. What are the challenges faced by investigative journalists? What kinds of issues get highlighted by media activism and which ones become less visible in public discourse? We will also consider the implications of media activism for democracy. How does media activism impact the lives and futures of ordinary citizens?


Miriyam Aouragh, University of Westminster
Lina Attalah, Mada Masr, Cairo
Somnath Batabyal, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
Aniruddha Behal, Cobrapost
Soutik Biswas, Editor, BBC website
Ergin Bulut, Koç University, Istanbul
Paula Chakravartty, New York University
Aheli Choudhury, Delhi University
Francis Cody, University of Toronto
Saikat Datta, Hindustan Times
Peter D'Souza, CSDS
Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Milia Islamia University
Paranjoy Guhathakurta, Independent Journalist and Scholar, Delhimi Milia
Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV
Rebecca John, Senior Advocate
Archana Kapoor, Director, Radio Mewat
Ashish Khetan, Independent Journalist
Sanjay Kumar, CSDS
Vipul Mudgal, CSDS
Girish Nikam, Anchor, Rajya Sabha TV
Sevanti Ninan, The Hoot
Vibodh Parthasarathy, Jamia Milia Islamia University
Pamela Philipose, (ex) Women’s Feature Service
Krishna Prasad, Outlook
Srirupa Roy, University of Göttingen
Sherene Seikaly, University of California-Santa Barbara
Shalini Singh, Senior Journalist, Delhi
Sanjay Srivastava, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
Stalin K, Video Volunteers, Goa
Ravi Sundaram, CSDS
Om Thanvi, Editor-in-Chief, Jansatta