Wissenschaft im Dialog is hosting “a special series about the role of science communication and science journalism in various countries”. At their request, and thrilled for the opportunity, I wrote the India edition, available to read here. The initial limit was 1,000 words but the version that got published has around 1,400 words. For allowing this spillover – i.e. letting me go on and on – but more so for helping me compose and edit the thing, I owe thanks to Esther Kähler and Arwen Cross.
There are many reasons for [science stories of a certain type being popular today] – but two of them in particular dominate. The first is that, like everywhere else in the world, Indian journalism outlets are making a painful transition from print to the web. However, the business of journalism is tougher in India because the purchasing power is lower while the costs remain high. As a result, tested models of money-making such as online subscriptions and paywalls developed for the West can’t be adopted in India. Second – and again, like everywhere else in the world – political nationalism is on the rise. (Even if Emmanuel Macron received 65% of the French vote, it is startling that Marine Le Pen secured 35%.) One consequence of this has been that right-wing ideologues, politicians and supporters are becoming less tolerant towards journalism that criticises homegrown innovations. Instead they want stories that amplify national pride by glorifying ’successes‘ that, in most contexts, would simply be seen as low-hanging fruit.
Featured image credit: mdhondt/pixabay.