Co-directed by Bournemouth University academics Chindu Sreedharan and Einar Thorsen in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), NewsTracker targets journalists, media students and media educations, and serves as a sphere of debate and opinion to examine media reporting of rape and sexual violence. The blogger community on the Medium media publishing platform forms part of a research and capacity building project titled Media Action Against Rape and Sexual Violence (MAAR, for short), led by Bournemouth University and UNESCO New Delhi.
The site is co-published by BU and Ashoka University in collaboration with Amity School of Communication, Docfort Meducation, Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, and the Department of Journalism and Communication at University of Madras. The project involves an ambitious 20-month study, the largest of this nature attempted in India, to profile news coverage and map the journalistic challenges of reporting rape and sexual violence across India.
Co-principal investigator Chindu Sreedharan, said: “NewsTracker emerges out of a larger research and capacity building project called Media Action Against Rape that BU and UNESCO have launched together in India. It is a way of engaging two key stakeholder groups — journalists and media students across India — to ask questions about how journalists report on rape and sexual violence in India, and is there a different way, a better way of doing that? We want to start a conversation, get people asking thinking about an issue that is of utmost significance—not just in India, but across the world.
“The main impetus for the project was the series of extremely violent rape cases that have occurred across India in the last few years. And we began to wonder, do the news media have a role to play in this? What are journalists doing so far, and what else can they do?”
He added: “NewsTracker is a hands-on media education programme for students involved. It makes them think about the issues of reporting rape, to make them read news against the grain, think critically about what they consume in news. It allows them, at a later stage, to experiment with new ways of reporting such issues. We see it as a model for other journalism and media schools — something we hope they can adapt as part of their own programmes over time.”