Elections in India and digital storytelling

1280px-Election_MG_3455I have recently been working on a paper focussing on legacy media storytelling via social media during the last Lok Shaba election in India (2014) with Colin Agur. This chapter will be published in a special edited collection focussing on the Indian election. The publication will be available online and in print by the end of this calendar year. The objective of this collection is to contribute to the post-election debate from an academic and practical perspective.

We interviewed a handful of Indian journalists in English-speaking legacy media in the weeks immediately following the vote. Our questions focused on the ways that political parties and other actors in the campaign used social media to contribute to discussions, and the ways that journalists used social media to cover the campaign. Here are a few preliminary remarks that I would like to share with you:

  • Journalists in India used social media as news beat. Twitter was the most important social media tool for journalists.
  • Social media provided a space for activists, intellectuals, reporters, politicians, and citizens (including expats residing in India and Indians living abroad).
  • The institutionalization and greater inclusivity of social media in this election allow for a meta-narrative of a networked India that has, in a short amount of time, integrated social media into its political narrative.
  • There was a rise of global and national interests for newcomers as opposed to old families reigning India.
  • This election has shown that the concept of social media space in India is shaped by larger questions of access to technology, and by social, economic, and linguistic divisions within the country.

I will post the link to the full paper here soon.


BBC Blog: Reporting Disasters

imgresThis is a link to my blog post on the blog for the College of Journalism at the BBC Academy discussing my forthcoming book on changes in crisis reporting and emerging media.

Social Media at BBC News

imagesMy forthcoming book Social Media at BBC News: The Re-Making of Crisis Reporting has a new page on the Routledge website. This book will explore the emergence of social media at BBC. Here is the brief description:

Since the emergence of social media in the journalistic landscape, the BBC has sought to produce reporting more connected to its audience while retaining its authority as a public broadcaster in crisis reporting. Using empirical analysis of crisis news production at the BBC, this book shows that the emergence of social media at the BBC and the need to manage this kind of material led to a new media logic in which tech-savvy journalists take on a new centrality in the newsroom. In this changed context, the politico-economic and socio-cultural logic have led to a more connected newsroom involving this new breed of journalists and BBC audience. This examination of news production events shows that in the midst of transformations in journalistic practices and norms, including newsgathering, sourcing, distribution and impartiality, the BBC has reasserted its authority as a public broadcaster.

And thanks to John Pavlik (Rutgers University, USA), Richard Sambrook (Cardiff University and Former Director, BBC Global News), and Nikki Usher (George Washington University, USA and author of Making News at The New York Times) for their gracious comments on my book!

Journalism, new media, and rape coverage in India

imgres-1I spent the last year of my PhD in India writing my dissertation. On December of that year, the rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old female student gained attention in Indian and foreign media. Smeeta Mishra, Colin Agur and I looked at how Indian and foreign correspondents reporting from India used social media during the coverage of the Delhi gang rape. We were particularly interested in how journalists represented the public sphere in their social media usage and what this representation says about the future of India’s public sphere.


Belair-Gagnon, V., Mishra, S., and Agur, C. 2013 Reconstructing the Indian public sphere: Newswork and social media in the Delhi gang rape case. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism.

Belair-Gagnon, V., Mishra, S., and Agur, C. 2013 Emerging spaces for storytelling journalistic lessons for social media in the Delhi gang rape case in Nieman Lab.

Social media and changes in journalistic impartiality

imgres-2What does objectivity means in the new media logic? This article contributes to the literature of news production studies by providing a powerful example of how processes of deliberation bring change to journalism. It explores the reconstruction of impartiality using the single case-study of social media in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) international journalism. In this case-study, symbolic interactionism and mesostructure analysis enable us to explore social organizations and social processes, placing them in larger embedded contexts (structural, historical, and mode of action) and extended temporality. Following D. L. Altheide’s (1996) ecology of communication framework, this study on BBC impartiality demonstrates that in the newsroom, techies have responded strategically to the logic of their environment. Techies have joined in the process of the new symbolic architecture of impartiality, which has transformed news agenda-setting. This new logic, ushered in by techies, has shaped editorial decisions at the public broadcaster. This article discusses how social media have contributed to the nature, organization, and consequences of communication activities of the BBC

Belair-Gagnon, V. 2013 Revisiting Impartiality: Social Media and Journalism at The BBC. Symbolic Interaction, 36(4):478-492.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.