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Schism between English and regional language press leading to elitism

Pune, February 12: THE socio-cultural divide between the English and regional language press had given rise to ‘English elitism’ and a peculiar caste and class structure in the Indian media, said Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar. He was speaking at a University Grants Commission-sponsored National Conference on ‘Regional Language Press: New Era, New Challenges’ organised by the UoP’s Department of Journalism and Communication Studies on Monday.

With English becoming the lingua franca in the country, Ketkar said that there was a rift between the English and regional language media, wherein the former looked down upon the latter. “The change in the socio-economic and political structure has also resulted in a greater impact by the English newspapers across India,” he said.

As a result, Ketkar said that local politicians also sought greater visibility in the English press, so as to make an impact on the policy-makers or the ‘national elite’. “These ‘local elite’ will turn to regional media only during elections, or when they want to position themselves favourably in internal power struggles by emphasising their regionalism,” Ketkar said.

This ultimately leads to a disconnect between the media and the people. “We have a situation where the local press is compelled to reflect the culture of the local language elite, who desire prominence among the national elite,” said Ketkar, adding that this reflection may lead to huge circulation within the region, but ultimately would cause “disintegration” in the country similar to that in Yugoslavia.

Veteran journalist-writer Arun Sadhu, on the other hand, chose to take a contradictory stance, saying that the vernacular press had “its finger on the pulse of the people”. “There was a time when press conferences would not begin before representatives of the leading English paper walked in. This is changing now, indicating increased respect for the regional press,” said Sadhu.

Sakaal managing editor Prataprao Pawar said that the regional language press should adapt to the changing times to combat the aggressive marketing strategies and price wars waged by the English press.

Date posted: February 12, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 574