ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

News Hunters or Ad Gatherers?

Precarious Work of Rural Stringers in Print Media

Despite their indispensable contributions to print media, the small-town/rural stringers remain as invisible workers and their day-to-day struggles for livelihood go largely unnoticed. This article provides a field-based account on the insecure world of work of stringers, which is characterised by precarious employment with deplorable working conditions. This situation calls for urgent interventions from all stakeholders to promote decent work and fair labour standards for rural stringers.


The research for this article was conducted as part of a larger study on job insecurities of the print journalists. A Major Research Study Grant received from ICSSR for undertaking this research is gratefully acknowledged. The author is thankful to Govind Jha for excellent research assistance. Constructive suggestions from Neetha N were extremely useful.

In India, focused research on job insecurities of journalists in print media is rare. Even the limited scholarship on this aspect is largely confined to the issues of print media workers in urban centres. This underscores the need for studying labour issues of journalists in small towns and rural areas. Small-town/rural journalists are the extended pool of workers in the newspapers. These journalists, working in districts, tehsils, and villages, are the grass-roots level reporters for most of the media houses. Despite their indispensable contributions to print media, these rural journalists often remain as invisible workers and their day-to-day struggle for livelihood goes largely unnoticed. The present article, focusing on job insecurities of rural scribes, is conceptualised in this broader premise.

The field study for this article was carried out in Aligarh and Hisar districts1 (in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, respectively) from November 2017 to December 2019. A total of 36 in-depth interviews were held, using snowball sampling, leveraging on both informed contacts and institutional databases.2 Of the interviewees, 22 were informal journalists/freelancers, working for various newspapers in small towns/rural areas (including two photo journalists); eight were full-time or part-time on-roll journalists with newspapers (including editors, correspondents, bureau chiefs, and reporters); and the remaining six were key-resource persons (trade union leaders; trained media workers working with government and other segments of media, for example, television and radio-broadcasting). This mixed composition of respondents helped in gaining a holistic picture of the job insecurities of rural/small-town scribes.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.