File image of journalist Rajdeep Sardesai
File image of journalist Rajdeep Sardesai | Twitter | @sardesairajdeep
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New Delhi: Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt are among the most followed on Twitter by Indian journalists, a study has found.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, the study “plotted” the friends of journalists in India to understand who they most “listened to” among Indian journalists on the micro-blogging site. 

Gupta, founder and editor-in-chief of ThePrint, has the highest following. Sardesai, consulting editor at India Today, comes a close second, while independent journalist Barkha Dutt comes in third.

In the other categories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “clear leader” as the politician most followed by Indian journalists, while historian Ramachandra Guha is the most followed public intellectual.

Joyojeet Pal, associate professor at University of Michigan who was among the researchers, tweeted the findings of the study, which were released on 2 March.

The methodology of the study included using a “seed set of journalists most retweeted by politicians”, then finding the friends of those journalists, and then hand-annotating each of them to confirm if they were journalists.

The initial set included 2,170 Twitter accounts, of which 1,899 were identified as “ground truth journalists” and 271 as “media collectives” (new organisations, newspapers, etc.).

However, the study excluded journalists who do not have much of a network — i.e. are not friends with other journalists.

All the data was collected using Twitter Public API.

Also read: Rajdeep Sardesai to Tavleen Singh, one dilemma during riots: preserve harmony or report hate

Most followed journalist by journalists 

Data visualisation revealed that even though Shekhar Gupta is more popular within the community of journalists, Sardesai is relatively popular on Twitter generally. 

Journalists who have high following “among other journalists relative to their online following” were Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor, The Wire, and Naresh Fernandes, editor,    

Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal also popular 

While PM Modi emerged as the most followed politician by journalists, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi came in second and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal third.

Even though AAP MLA Atishi and Congress leader Manish Tewari have relatively small following, it was found that they have “a reasonably strong footprint among journalists”. 

Public intellectuals 

Apart from Ramachandra Guha, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former vice-chancellor of Ashoka University Pratap Bhanu Mehta were also found to be popular among Indian journalists.

The study referred to lawyer Gautam Bhatia and author Akshaya Mukul as “public commentators” who are “heavily followed by the professional press” and thus have “important spheres of influence in the public discourse”. 

Foreign journalists 

The study found that some of the most followed global journalists like Anderson Cooper, CNN news anchor, Ezra Klein, founder and editor, Vox, Nate Silver, editor-in-chief, FiveThirtyEight weren’t of that much interest to the “typical Indian journalists”. 

However, foreign correspondents for Indian news and Indian-origin journalists were more popular.  


Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan may have the overall highest following, but relatively he is not highly followed by Indian journalists.

Celebrities who are politically engaging, such as actor Swara Bhaskar, comedian Kunal Kamra and lyricist Javed Akhtar, were more popular among journalists. 

Also read: From writing history to becoming a part: How Ramachandra Guha became face of CAA protests


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  1. If they are top journalists, what is Arnab ha ha. Because he is not on twitter, these waste fellows are getting some followers.

  2. They are being followed because they are the least credible and one sided reporting. They are being followed to prevent mis reporting
    News is about reporting what happened and not some so called intellectual thoughts about it. These so called intellectual create reports and narrative to create controversy and it becomes news.
    Shameless is Shekar gupta, where he has been promoted by his own medium the print. #cutthebullshit
    And we all know how Twitter works.. it’s not a neutral platform.
    Get your news from DD news.
    Needless to point out all 5 comments before are negetive!

  3. They are the most abused journalist… Nd most hated journalist coz of their biased coverage..

  4. Who is “Public intellectual”? A new name that left-liberals have given themselves. Are theire private intellectuals? After the “eminent historians” lost their face by being caught lying before the Ahmedabad High Court in Ayodhya case, now they are emerging with new lable “Public Intellectual”. Old wine in the new bottle.

  5. He is the most worthless journo and even former President Pranab Mukherjee, Mukesh Ambani clearly stated that they never took him seriously.

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