It is estimated that 2.5 million people in India are HIV positive. Set within the context of the role of communication in addressing social justice issues, this paper describes a qualitative study of Indian journalists’ opinions about the quality of press coverage of HIV/AIDS in India, including its socially responsible nature, if present, the role of public journalism in this coverage, obstacles to and ways of improving this coverage, and the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS strategic campaigns. The data were gathered from nine journalists in two Indian cities representing English or local (Gujarati) language newspapers. The general consensus was that coverage had created awareness. Traditional news values were the filters for selecting HIV/AIDS stories rather than any overriding socially responsible approach. The journalists were unanimously against getting involved in communities and then reporting on them as some definitions of social responsibility public journalism suggest because this would compromise their objectivity. Obstacles to good coverage included the need to understand the topic (time consuming) and the need to have an open mind (not always present) and suggestions to improve coverage included messaging in Bollywood films, which have a hold on the Indian public. Journalists had mixed views on the effectiveness of campaigns addressing HIV/AIDS. Some felt that these had done a reasonable amount of good work, others that NGOs wasted money.
- Socially responsible journalism
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