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Monday, February 1, 2010

Origin of Development Communication

The expressions such as Development reporting or Development news were coined during the early seventies when UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNDP were willing to fund and encourage a new kind of reporting. The Press of the west was critical of these agencies. The US and British Press has censured them consistently as a reaction to allegations of slated reporting by the western media while giving reports on the economics and development issues of the developing countries. Various forums discussed the domination of the western Press on the media of the developing nations. In these debates, the city-based print media were found against development reporting because they thought that it was an effort towards management of news. However, smaller newspapers wanted to implement the concept of development reporting.

Consequently, the UNESCO formed the McBride Commission. This commission organized hearings in developing countries. However, such hearings were boycotted by many newspapers, including some newspapers in India. The wire services like AP, UPI, Reuters and AFP were covering such news as were not under their coverage agendas. Developing nations reacted to this new phenomenon. The western media continued to control the mass markets in the developing countries. The developing nations were slow in learning that the western media were out to destroy their social, economic and political canvasses in stealthy fashion. The report of McBride commission clearly mentioned this lethal trend. The developing world became conscious of this trend. Hence, development news was made unacceptable to major newspapers.

However, there were many news agencies in Asia that were doing development reporting jobs in 1994. Stories devoted to development were published in newspapers and magazines. TV, as the new media was also used to do so. TV documentaries were popular till mid nineties. Despite the resistance offered by the Press of the developed world, the media of developing nations continued to splash articles and news on development issues in Asia, Africa and Middle East. These articles and news vied for media space and competed with political gossip, news and entertainment content to clinch more space in the media.

The progress of development reporting in India was slow due to the following reasons:

  1. The mass media were catering to the needs of the urban literate readers. The newspapers & magazines publishers were developing content for the urban people and not for the mass markets. Hence, their content was urban oriented.
  2. The journalism training institutes did not pay attention to the concept of training in development reporting.
  3. The corporate publishing sector was driven by monetary gain. It did not depute development reporters to cover the news of development. It also did not start the in-house training programs to upgrade the reporting skills and research techniques of its existing set of reporters.

Thus, the concept of development reporting could not emerge as a force in the field of journalism in India.

During the seventies and eighties, the information scenario was being changed in India. However, no private sector firm asked its journalists to report progress of various sectors of our economy. The journalists used the news fed by wire services and converted them into routine news. They were not taking any extra pains to cover news related to development. They were literally left on their own to cover news. If any one of the news covered by them had any development content, it was not singled out as a special coverage item. It was published as a routine news item, feature or article. Hindustan Times can be given the credit of starting the concept of development reporting in India. Its editor, B G Veghese, took the initiative in this context. Further, The times of India started a feature on agriculture and appointed an agriculture correspondent in its Delhi office. Later, Indian Express covered news and events related to environment, economic development and social conflicts. However, the journalists of seventies were not trained in the job of development reporting. They were political reporters and they had nothing to do with the social or economic progress of the nation. As such, the concept of development journalism could not really take off until the late eighties.


  1. You are very thoughtful. Students do find it hard to get relevant information . Your notes should include African perspectives since we in Africa share several developmental problems with Asia.

    1. Hey Ibrahim...Im sry for the late reply.

      Can you help know more about the African problems in development.

  2. Thank you Sonam, your notes help me provide notes to my student; with attribution to you, of course!