Self-Censorship of the Nira Radia Tapes: A Critical Juncture in the Indian Journalistic Field

Swati Maheshwari


The analysis of the news media’s self-censorship of one of the biggest corruption scandals in India foregrounds the role it plays in institutionalizing a narrow alliance of the political and business elite in a crony capitalist polity. Employing a synthesis of field theory and new institutional theory, this article looks at the macrolevel changes in the political power structure and the neoliberal architecture of the media as well as the internal dynamics of the journalistic field to analyze the discursive processes of censorship in this case study. This research illuminates the interrelationships between the journalistic field and the field of power as a consequence of the Indian state’s neoliberal restructuring. Drawing on interviews with 26 journalists, the article finds the news media deeply implicated in the neoliberal project. At the same time, creative strategies of resistance by a few journalists attempting to hold on to democratic values in a society where those values are under assault cannot be underestimated.


self-censorship, journalism studies, India, ruling elite, crony capitalism, neoliberalization

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