India’s large and thriving news media is going digital. Spurred by an exponential increase in Internet use and digital advertising, a number of digital journalism startups have been established in recent years. These startups have received popular and academic attention, often narrated as disruptors and revolutionaries. This study considers these claims of disruption from the perspective of those doing the supposed disrupting. Based on 31 semi-structured interviews with founders and journalists working at 18 such English-language startups, this study examines how they work with and against the grain of established media in India. Participants critiqued existing media practices with regard to the business model, the content of news coverage, and the values underlying their journalism and then offered their own site or work as possible redress. While the critiques were aimed at legacy media writ large, they also aligned themselves with and sought legitimacy from print journalism. Their coverage, audience, and values were all oriented toward English-language newspapers, which have historically formed the elite public sphere in India. Participants saw themselves operating in concert with print media, ultimately offering not a disruption to the established order of journalism but rather a distillation of how the English-speaking elite in India access news.
"Digital Disruption? Journalism Startups in India." Journalism, 2019.