The Fourth Estate

Crumbling Fourth Pillar.
I spoke on the state of affairs as early as in 2005.

While people are writing obituaries of printed books, e-books are already facing stiff competition from gadgets that display similar content. But I am brave enough to continue to be a reader of paperbooks. They are also, certainly, in the list of things I need in life.

Having said this, I admit I love devices that display news content. And I would like these devices to become cheaper to reach the hands of millions of fellow Indians… not because I want newspapers to be dead. [I know India is the second largest newspaper market, as authenticated by the World Association of Newspapers.]

As a matter of fact, I want the digital media to be the new face of journalism. They call it ‘New Media’. I say it is The Media, a notion I emphasized while speaking at a discussion organized by the India Policy Foundation, in New Delhi recently.

Many other speakers though seemed reluctant to digest that the advent of digital media has started a new revolution in journalism. But I am happy that the World Editors Forum at its meeting in Hyderabad dittoed that the digital media has indeed transformed journalists into media entrepreneurs.

The traditional form of journalism is of no use today. It is sick. It is in fact killing news and burying views. Useless contents, dearth of jobs and insecurity prevalent in this sulking medium are forcing both the youth and the experienced to set up their independent media. It is time we understand this, sooner the better. We don’t need Radia Media today.

The journalistic tools are much better in the digital medium. They are cheaper too. And they would take a huge jump with the advertising world sharing its budget with them, which scenario is starting to happen.

I personally know many people who have very timely realized the inevitable and are putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their work. And what about those who believe that the ‘new media’ should exercise self-control or there should be a mechanism to control them! Well, we have arrived. And we have arrived not to be tamed, gagged or sold.

It indeed takes a lot of work to be an independent journalist because it entails working really hard on every aspect. “Here, one is the reporter, the promoter and the businessman,”says Rafat Ali, the founder of His views gain credence in the light of similar statements from Frederic Filloux, editor of Schibsted International, France, and Oliver Creiche, CEO, Six Apart, the US, that online media is the best form of entrepreneurial journalism where one can make money with little investment, and where one can talk about a common man.

You in the meantime make sure that digital media do not become extensions of the (dying) print media of the big media houses. I assure their politics will  not be allowed to succeed.


You may also like to read: Where would Delhi’s 20,000 something journalists turn to? …

In Indian media organisations there is no one to turn to for redressal of grievances. Trade unions are dead in almost all newspapers. Majority of magazines and news channels do not even issue appointment letters. And more and more journalists are being pushed into contracts where they just have their duties and no rights.

Worst … hundreds of thousands of stringers and part-timers across this South Asian nation do not have any proper designations. Their names do not figure in their company’s muster roll and they are paid just few hundred rupees… yes, not even 10 Dollars. MORE…


  1. On the subject of the Fourth Estate and watchdog journalism, Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, recently said: “If we don’t have a watchdog function, then we have a lapdog function, and that doesn’t serve the voter very well. We need journalism that goes out and challenges what is being given reporters as the facts. We need to look behind the facts and find out where they’re coming from, and what the interests are of the people who are giving us those facts. Local government and state government and the federal government today are even more than ever in the news business themselves. They are putting out news as if it was the entire package and expecting people to buy it and I think Americans have to be a little bit skeptical and have to look behind where those governments are putting out facts.” (Gibson appeared on the Charlottesville, VA, politics interview program Politics Matters with host and producer Jan Madeleine Paynter discussing journalism


  2. Neeraj, interesting post.

    I always wonder the time for me to stop buying paper books.:-) I still love to the touch and hold feeling.

    Thanks for the interesting fact on india being the 2nd largest newspaper market. Wonder who is 1st ?

    Malaysia press do face the same fate as india in declining readership but for different reason. Slow readership is due to propaganda by government and political parties to dictate peoples voice.

    Most of the national papers are owned by political parties and are being monitored by the govt. closely.

    Since the inception of on-line media, many Malaysians have turned to blogging and alternative media.

    By the way, your tips on adding image to my blog works well. Thanks Neeraj.

    Cheers Buddy.


    • Dear Ganesh,

      The four largest markets for newspapers are: China, with 107 million copies sold daily; India, with 99 million copies daily; Japan, with 68 million copies daily; and the United States, with nearly 51 million.

      And interestingly, 74 of the world’s 100 best-selling dailies are published in Asia. India, China and Japan account for 62 of them.

      And hey, nice to know I was of some use to you.

      Regards | Neeraj


  3. Dear Neeraj,

    As always you are not just a source of information. You are a definite source for inspiration. I was waiting for your views about this event that you had informed that you were going to be speaking at this event.

    Thank you so much.

    Anil Kohli


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