student journalism


This week, let’s talk about transparency in journalism. Have you read our pieces and felt upset at us for reporting on certain events? This piece is for you!

Ah, DU, you’ve dealt with us for more than 15 years now. It’s only fair I let you in on an inside joke DU Beat has: “you know you’ve written a good report if everyone involved is mad at you.” You would be shocked to know that most of our dispute based reports generate criticism from all parties involved, usually because we didn’t blatantly favour them. To us that shows quality and unbiased reporting – the hallmark of a well written report!

When you read a good DU Beat investigative or report, you’ll notice there is an abundance of operating words like “alleged”, “reported” and “claimed”. “The students alleged that the administration allegedly turned them away and claimed that their requests were denied.” is a sentence you may very well see us write in an article one day. Now, this is not because we simply love using these words to mirror national newspapers. In fact – as most of Delhi University’s journalism students will tell you – the overuse of such words largely stems from basic journalistic ethics.

You see, when it comes to investigative pieces or reports on different events, we are not always present at the scene to have a firsthand account of what happened. Our knowledge of what may have transpired in the situation we’re reporting on largely comes from a variety of quotes from people that were present during these events – sometimes even at fests that we happen to be covering. But if we weren’t there, how could we possibly know if what we are told is the entire truth? Moreover, in cases of disputes and arguments, how could we possibly know which party’s version of events is the truth? Since we obviously can’t blindly trust the words of everyone we speak to, the use of these operating words becomes necessary.

It is important for us as an organisation to make it perfectly clear that the narrative of events we talk about is not ours but made up of claims from other people who do not represent DU Beat. To our readers, it is important that we clarify: the news does not always know the truth, it simply tells you what people involved say is the truth. Once we make this distinction between our opinion and narratives offered by third parties clear, we run into another obstacle. To explain this, let’s take the example of a dispute between a certain college society’s members and the college faculty that was covered by DU Beat in the past.

Our use of “alleged” and “claimed” upset the society members because we would not support them publicly and offer their cause credibility – something we would never do due to ethics. On the other hand, the college faculty was upset at our reporting since despite our attempts to make it clear that these views were not our own, they believed that we had publicly supported the students instead of supporting the faculty. We were essentially receiving podcast-length voice notes and calls from both sides for days! Annoying, yes, but it was a good sign that our piece was clearly not favouring any side over the other.

Amidst such calls and comments on our Instagram like “DU Beat is supporting/excusing the students (or administration, depending on whose side they’re on) blindly”, it feels like people underestimate the neutral reader. The reader is not so easily influenced. We do not want to tell you what to think of the situations we cover. We may make mistakes occasionally, but the goal remains to depict a fair and unbiased view of the situation. Processing the information we provide and creating your own opinions is something we do not hold any influence over.

That is not to say that we have never picked sides. Most recently, DU Beat as an organisation took a very vocal stance in favour of the students of IPCW after the infamous invasion of their campus during their annual fest. While our reporting and coverage remained neutral and used the same operating words, we were horrified at the events that unfolded and thus considered it important to put out a statement of support. We have our own opinions and sympathies as well, but as far as investigative articles and reports are concerned, after reading them the only opinions you should see clearly are your own. In other words, let’s not shoot the messenger.

Read also: Not Just for Entertainment: Social Media Journalism 

Image source: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Siddharth Kumar

[email protected]


While the media is preoccupied with playing ‘Antakshari’ on television or investigating how much money the PM placed in ‘daan peti’, student journalists are questioning the regime and discussing subjects that the media overlooks. 

“The violence against journalists, the politically partisan media, and the concentration of media ownership all demonstrate that press freedom is in crisis in ‘the world’s largest democracy’, ruled since 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the embodiment of the Hindu nationalist right,” reads the report by Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit organisation that ranked India 161 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index. The report focused on the decline and censorship of free media in India.

In recent years, there has been an increasing crackdown on independent media groups and journalists. While independent journalists pay a high price for what they do, others profit from propagating hatred and disinformation. Most national news channels in India are pro-government, who are busy spewing hatred against minorities and running prime-time shows about love stories while the north-eastern state of Manipur still continues to burn. All of this highlights the gruesome state of journalism in the country. However, a new ray of hope has emerged in recent years, attempting to resurrect Indian journalism from its ‘deathbed.’

Student journalism, which may be described as a new wave in modern journalism, acts as the lifeline of the country’s journalism industry. Student journalists are now the eyes and ears of the nation, using social media as a means to fight and discuss topics that the national media hides or ignores. This unrecognised group, which is frequently exposed to institutional controls, is doing far more than its capabilities to fulfil the country’s lack of free media. SPLC Executive Director, Hadar Harris, in conversation with The Jamia Review, said,

Student journalists play a key role in the civic life of their community. Not only do they report important issues of a school or school district, but as the number of professional journalists has dwindled, student journalists often also fill the gap in reporting on national, state, and regional issues.

These journalists rely heavily on digital media, with Instagram and Twitter being their primary means of connection with the public. However, many of these student media organisations have begun branching out into print media as well, publishing weekly or monthly issues with the support of sponsorships or donations.

At a time when national media is being bought and influenced by major political parties, we need a source of information that isn’t fabricated to cater to the majority. Independent and student media organisations work to guarantee that the voices of Dalits, Queers, Muslims, Tribals, and other marginalised communities are heard and discussed on a mainstream platform. Senior and established journalists and media outlets have greater freedom to report on such issues, but how effectively they use it is another matter. While the media is busy earning money by propagating hatred, these student journalists work on an unpaid basis due to a lack of sufficient funds or sources of income.

– Harshvardhan Bhaskar, Managing Editor, The Economic Transcript

While these student journalists are doing what a journalist does, they are often denied the democratic and legal rights associated with the press. Anshul Tewari, Founder, Youth Ki Awaaz, said,

There is a larger perception issue. We live in a culture that wants young people to be aware and educated, while simultaneously dismissing the expectations that arise as a result of that awareness. The main issue is that society undermines youth opinions and talent. This inevitably cultivates a viewpoint that does not recognise or consider the degree of journalism undertaken by the students, thereby disregarding the necessity for legal and democratic rights for such spaces.

However, this group is frequently exposed to harassment and legal abuse, not only from the government but also from their academic institutions. Recently, cases of students being suspended or harassed for writing critical of their college or regime are on the rise. In 2015, the principal of St. Stephens College banned an e-magazine and suspended its editor for failing to obtain permission for its content before its publication. This year, students from O.P. Jindal University were given suspensions for distributing a magazine that addressed problems affecting farmers and the working class.

Such harassment, along with the built-in risks associated with the field of journalism, makes it difficult for these groups to function and thrive. Public recognition is the essential foundation upon which these groups can grow and survive. Along with this, it is the responsibility of those in positions of power and established media organisations to assist in the sustainability of these spaces. Anonymous donations, organised business models and student media collaboration with independent media outlets can help them achieve recognition and resources to report freely and independently. 

Read also: National Press Day: A Closer Look at Student Journalism

Featured image credits: Dhruv Bhati for DU Beat

Dhruv Bhati
[email protected] 

What is it like to be a female student journalist? Is it always dangerous, or can one bypass the gendered prejudices and discrimination? What are the things that make journalism a gendered experience? Female student journalists across the country answer these questions, and more.

Untoward comments, sly taunts, and that nagging feeling of being unsafe –the life of a female student journalist. Student journalism provides exciting opportunities for work experience, but the female experience is often undermined and disregarded. That the ‘second sex’ faces discrimination, harassment, and prejudice stemming from patriarchy is evident in the numerous instances reported in the news. A greater number of such reports, however, die unknown, due
to the fears and social stigma that surround them.

Watching, reading, and listening about such instances generates a psychological fear that can be
extremely disempowering. It’s almost as if you know beforehand that you will be treated differently because of your gender. For most of us, this unfortunate reality gradually sinks
in. The eventual acceptance of the fact that your work as a journalist will come with an unwanted package of sexism is perhaps the saddest part. DU Beat spoke to female student journalists across the country, and this article is an attempt to give them agency and acknowledge their struggles.

The first thing that most journalists mentioned while researching for this article was time. Working at odd hours is a major limiting factor on every female journalist’s mind. Returning home after covering events, fests and seminars at night can be daunting, especially in cities
like Delhi, where women’s safety is a persistent fear.

Since it is a time sensitive job, we must be on the go constantly. Safety is a big issue. My parents were initially very against me joining a media outlet since it involved going out in the late evenings. Being a student, you need to balance time with your studies as well, and being a woman, with the hundred other kinds of work and duties society expects you to perform. I used to feel quite odd travelling by metro at odd hours and being at fests at night. It can be a thrilling experience, but there is this constant fear at the back of your head that something can, at any time, go wrong.

shared an anonymous journalist

The hesitation of getting quotes for a news report from men was also something most female journalists said they tried to avoid.

I have thankfully never faced any sort of gender discrimination directly being a female journalist, but that is also because I try to never put myself in that position in the first place. I am very wary of men in general, and more comfortable getting quotes from women, if I am
honest. Fellow student journalists have said that many people can be creepy when it comes to giving quotes. They might harass you even after you have completed your professional

A female student journalist studying in Lady Shri Ram College for Women commented

Covering and reporting student politics is also, unfortunately, a gendered experience. The rough
world of politics can be tougher for female journalists to navigate.

I feel like I have faced more problems not because I am a student journalist but because I’m a female student journalist. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is contacting political parties for quotes. The biggest concern is safety. As a woman, you are stuck in a messy situation where your contact is being shared with the world. I know a lot of female student journalists who have gotten bullied or harassed while trying to report a situation. Since we do this work in good faith, it feels sad when you hear about such instances. I spoke to a member of an organisation once, and later got repeated requests from them on Instagram. It is a weird world out there, and when you are doing such a job, you are exposing yourself more.

lamented yet another female student journalist

Another correspondent highlighted how her decision to report a piece of news led to her staying indoors for a week for safety reasons.

There are always times when you hesitate to ask quotes from student political organisations. I was very sceptical about asking them for quotes since they are known for looking your name up on social media and sending unsolicited messages. Once a report I wrote received a lot of backlash from a particular student body. I was asked to stay at home for a week after that. Another time, while interviewing a professor accused of sexual harassment, he talked to me inappropriately. The worst part is that we think that this is a given, that it is a part of being a journalist.

she said

This sad reality is only worsened when women go for on-ground reporting. For a female student
journalist studying in Mumbai, speaking to men face to face has been a disenchanting experience.

They make you feel so uncomfortable. It is almost as if they do not view you as another human worthy of self-respect.Cases of sexual harassment and bullying are widespread.

she said

College students who come to study in a city from their hometowns face an added layer of risk.

When I came to Delhi, I felt that everyone viewed me differently. I felt that there were issues
I wanted to talk about but could not.Freedom of speech is different for men and women. Plus, contacting people can be a different engagement as a gender minority. Identity for me has been a point of observance, I noticed that a person from another state or a privileged background could get away by talking about certain things in a simplistic manner. Whereas, being a Kashmiri Muslim woman, I could not talk about certain things, fearing that it would be held against me. Journalism is so many things, but your identity defines what kind of journalism you want to do. Feminist intersectional stories need more voice.

commented a female student journalist

For Kashish Shivani, the Web Editor of DU Beat handling the danger of being known is fearsome.

As a woman, you have to always be on guard. You cannot talk candidly to anyone. Once people know you, your social media handles, your email address, and your phone number, you find yourself in uncomfortable situations. There have been instances where when one person from an organisation or college society starts following, their friends also follow suit. This is a confusing place to be in, as you are constantly wondering when something untoward will happen.

Kashish Shivani, Web Editor of DU Beat

Kashish commented on her experience as a female student journalist.

Accompanying women covering on ground protests is a persistent fear. And particularly while interacting with men, when you see for yourself that men are not talking to you in a completely professional manner. That feeling of not being fully accepted or respected is disheartening. Moreover, the relations my fellow male correspondents have with contacts are very different from the relations I have with them.

Kashish Shivani, Web Editor of DU Beat

Such instances highlight the subtle difference most women can make out, where they are not treated as equal to their male counterparts.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking remark was from Himasweeta Sarma, the current Editor-in-Chief of DU Beat.

Most of the messages we receive on DU Beat’s account are addressed to ‘sir’. I think that this speaks a lot about the current state of women in journalism considering that since 2011, four or five times the post of Editor or Editor-in-Chief has been held by a woman and yet this persists.

Himasweeta Sarma, Editor-in-Chief of DU Beat

Most of the female student journalists whose quotes were used in this article have been kept anonymous, upon request. As one of them pointed out, “This is the strangest irony, me asking you to not mention names and keep me anonymous right after talking about how important it is to popularise female experiences in journalism.” Preferring to remain anonymous and going without credit because of gendered fear is yet another disempowering reality that female journalists face. Virginia Woolf’s words echoed in my head the entire time I typed this article, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”


Read Also: Press Freedom in The Lives of Struggling Student Journalists


Featured Image Credits: BBC News


Shiuli Sural


[email protected]

Covering protests properly is important for journalists to present a real account of what the students actually think and how they behave. They are the tools for effective empowerment of a disgruntled section of the society.

In every University campus in the world, there have been agitations and instances of conflict between students and the people in power— whether they are teachers, student leaders or the administration. Sparks of dissent arise from such conflicts. Sometimes, these sparks also arise from everyday conversations among students. For instance, what happened in JNU in 2016 was an instance of conversations leading to protests.

Protests are perhaps the most spontaneous form of political action that would take place. Not surprisingly in the so-called liberal, freethinking, modern campuses of Indian education system, protests seem to become the norm and not the aberration. For better or for worse, these protests empower students to show their dissent, ideas, frustration, and their power. The protests also teach important lessons in organisation, mobilisation, symbolism, use of rhetoric and actual politics to the students. At an age when we are constantly evolving, the power of collective action, through protests, can be very stimulating for young minds. At the heart of their inception, therefore, protests represent battles fought everyday— between the all-powerful and the less powerful; the privileged and the dispossessed; the adulated and the marginalised. They are the quickest and best way to gauge the pulse of the youth.

So, is it any wonder that in DU Beat we cover protests diligently and doggedly? As a student journalist who has been to several protests, I can honestly say that it remains the most exciting part of the job. The interactions between students, teachers, police and the often unhelpful (seldom benevolent) University staff provide unique glimpses into the status quo. When these protests turn violent, it becomes all the more incumbent upon us to draw out the truth and find out what really happened. Providing an unbiased account of the ground reality has to be the aim of a good journalist.

Therefore, covering protests right— and not necessarily participating in them— become all the more important. In fact, it is almost unethical to be a part of protests which you are covering. Although it is true that journalism is hardly unbiased and journalists, like any other people, are political beings, some ground rules do apply on the field. For instance, I never indulge in sloganeering when I attend a protest I intend to cover. I try to talk to almost all the parties involved in the protest: the protesters, the opposition, the police and the officials. In fact, in one of the protests I covered one person asked me why I kept on sitting and clicking pictures for hours without uttering a single word. Did I not believe in the cause? My answer was that it was because I believe in the cause I cannot be seen to be biased when I report on it. My personal opinions can, in no way, clash with my professional practice.

However, what journalists in the country often succumb to is a false sense of objectivity. In pursuing a so-called “impartial” narrative, they often fall trap to a he-said/she-said view of events which leaves the reader more confused than ever. The primary goal of journalists has to be to uncover the truth, no matter the consequences, and present it in the best way possible.

In this vein, protests remain one of the most challenging aspects of the profession we are involved in. Its fast-paced nature, its unpredictability, the manifestations of power relations, which are themselves very fragile, the slogans that pulsate through the air— these are some of the reasons that will draw me to my cause of covering protests every single time.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Sara Sohail
[email protected]

On 31 January 2018, DU Beat organised Mushaira 2018 in collaboration with Hindu College. A literature and journalism fest, Mushaira also commemorated the benefaction of DU Beat as India’s largest student-run newspaper. The ceremony took place under the dignified presence of the esteemed administration of the University of Delhi.

Journalism requires the highest code of ethical conduct with integrity being its cornerstone. Student journalism, though sometimes considered irrelevant, is a creative pursuit of young minds who want to indulge into their campus surroundings and explore the innovative contours of their mind and their pens. Students, by traversing through layouts, stories, coverage, and graphics, learn to appreciate the spirit of integrity which is concomitant with journalism. With the DU School of Journalism being inaugurated this year, the University of Delhi has decided to shoulder efforts of student media outlets and presented its first-ever DU Chakra. The award was given to DU Beat on its completion of 10 years on 31 January at Mushaira.

DU Beat started as an experiment in 2007 with only a few print copies distributed at Lady Shri Ram College for Women and St. Stephen’s College. It achieved full shape in 2008, undergoing several shifts in form and display, be it through print or web. The team eventually came to consist of the University’s best talent as correspondents, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers, aided with a full functioning team of human resources and marketing from the various colleges of the varsity. The independent student newspaper went through its own trials and tribulations, striving to bring out the real and core issues of the campus and serve as the youth’s mouthpiece. Vineeta Rana, editor of DU Beat, thanked all the previous teams of the organisation for carrying on this 10-year journey. She also acknowledged this year’s team for bringing their creative energies together consistently throughout the year. Srivedant Kar, associate editor of DU Beat, extended gratitude to the administration of Delhi University for recognising DU Beat’s efforts as an authentic campus media outlet. Anagha Rakta, Head of Web at DU Beat, was almost in tears on stage while being handed the DU Chakra.

In his keynote address at Mushaira, Dr. Shashi Tharoor exalted the DU Beat team’s efforts and wished for another splendid 10 years of DU Beat at the University of Delhi. The entire team felt deeply moved, revered, and honoured with his praise and asked for his blessings to continue excelling in journalism.

With DU Beat completing a decade of youth representation, all members associated with it, both current and former, expressed their deepest gratitude to the platform and to the student population for building a space within the University to enact change.

Disclaimer: One of our most beloved features, Bazinga is our weekly column of almost believable fake news. It is only to be appreciated and not accepted!


Image Credits: DU Beat

Oorja Tapan
[email protected]

There has been a surge in the number of student-run media houses in universities recently. These outlets have an important role to play in the campus ecosystem when it comes to disseminating news and providing students with infotainment.

In the recent past, a surge in the number of media platforms has been observed in the university hemisphere. The mushrooming of student-run media houses stands as a testimony to this fact. To cater to the ever-increasing demand for information by university students, a lot of student-run media houses have been integrated into the campus ecosystem, and their work of student newspapers is to provide this public service to a university audience.

Many students go through distress about not having the official information at the right time. University offices have not been very effective when it comes to disseminating important information. Moreover, help lines issued by the administration do not cater to the students’ questions satisfactorily. More often than not, they are liable to technical glitches and fail to serve the students in the stipulated time frame. A university houses a huge number of students and it gets practically impossible to reach out to every student in person. This gave way to the proliferation of student-run media outlets in the universities.

The need got coupled with technology in the form of smart phones and easy internet access, which created a fertile field for the burgeoning of media houses in the universities. 

These media houses are fast emerging and students believe that it has a thriving market.  There is a steep competition among student-run media outlets, with each of these outlets delivering innovative content in a weekly cycle to outnumber each other’s subscribers. These media outlets are grooming entrepreneurs, writers, marketers, designers, and artists. Today, every student seeks opportunities to acquire practical knowledge by interning at myriad professional platforms. This compensates for the exposure that our university system fails to provide.

Student-run media outlets provide necessary information and promote democratic participation of the students. These media houses instill a sense of responsibility within students and inculcate leadership qualities in them. Not only do they create narratives and make the students aware of the issues around them, but also strive to be accessible to a larger audience.

Rather than just providing high-quality content, student journalists are also dedicated to connecting students, academic departments, alumni, and the world. Universities should acknowledge and encourage the student journalists with bubbling energy and should create porous gateways for the passing of information from the administration to the student-run media outlets to sustain such an ecosystem. 


Feature Image Credits: USA Today

Sandeep Samal
[email protected]