ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Precarious Work of Rural Stringers in Print Media

News Hunters or Ad Gatherers?

Despite their indispensable contributions to print media, the small-town/rural stringers remain as invisible workers and their day-to-day struggles for livelihood go largely unnoticed. This article provides a field-based account on the insecure world of work of stringers, which is characterised by precarious employment with deplorable working conditions. This situation calls for urgent interventions from all stakeholders to promote decent work and fair labour standards for rural stringers.

 

In India, focused research on job insecurities of journalists in print media is rare. Even the limited scholarship on this aspect is largely confined to the issues of print media workers in urban centres. This underscores the need for studying labour issues of journalists in small towns and rural areas. Small-town/rural journalists are the extended pool of workers in the newspapers. These journalists, working in districts, tehsils, and villages, are the grass-roots level reporters for most of the media houses. Despite their indispensable contributions to print media, these rural jour­nalists often remain as invisible wor­kers and their day-to-day struggle for livelihood goes largely unnoticed. The present article, focusing on job insecurities of rural scribes, is conceptua­lised in this broader premise.

The field study for this article was carried out in Aligarh and Hisar districts1 (in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, respectively) from November 2017 to December 2019. A total of 36 in-depth interviews were held, using snowball sampling, leveraging on both informed contacts and institutional databases.2 Of the interviewees, 22 were informal journalists/freelancers, working for various newspapers in small towns/rural areas (including two photo journalists); eight were full-time or part-time “on-roll” journalists with newspapers (including editors, correspondents, bureau chiefs, and reporters); and the remaining six were key-resource persons (trade union leaders; trained media workers working with government and other segments of media, for example, television and radio-broadcasting). This mixed composition of respondents helped in gaining a holi­stic picture of the job insecurities of ­rural/small-town scribes.

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Updated On : 10th Apr, 2021

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