Anna effect: Graft issue dominated newspapers & TV channels

Last Updated: Friday, September 30, 2011 - 18:00

New Delhi: The coverage of corruption-
related issues by TV news channels and newspapers increased
substantially in 2011, especially during Anna Hazare`s fast in
August, but "petty corruption" involving lower social strata
are yet to become a concern for the media, a new study says.

The study -- `Face of Corruption in News Media` -- says
the mainstream news media attached priority to scams and
scandals involving high-profile personalities rather than
systematic issues and correctives that need to be pursued
during the first half of 2011.

"The far off and grassroots level corruption hardly
figured. Most of the corruption covered in 2011 involved
individuals, but with high profiles and of high scams.

"English channels focused relatively more both on
institutions and individuals; while Hindi news channels
focused relatively more on individuals in their coverage of
corruption," the CMS Media Lab`s report said.

The study was done based on coverage in six television
news channels -- NDTV 24x7, CNN-IBN, Zee News, Star News, DD
News and Aaj Tak and six newspapers -- Dainik Jagran, Dainik
Bhasjar, Hindustan, The Hindu, The Times of India and
Hindustan Times.

It said the coverage related to corruption issues was
well over eight per cent of prime time and six per cent of
front pages from January-June, 2011, but during Anna`s fast
the coverage overall went up to over 60 per cent of prime time
of news channels and mostly live coverage.

The study also noted that the year signalled that
corruption in corporate and private sectors were no longer
"out of bounds" from their coverage.

Although, overall only 15 per cent was to do with
corruption in corporate sector, the study said, Aaj Tak and
Star News devoted 36 and 25 per cent of prime time for the
same.

"NDTV 24x7 and CNN-IBN had much less than ten per cent of
their coverage of corruption to do with private sector which
was lower than even DD News (12 percent)," the study said.

The CMS study said news channels provided "saturated
coverage" to Anna`s fasts all the 13 days at Ramlila grounds
in August.

"Even earlier, in April at Jantar Mantar, his fast
received almost ten times more coverage (all the five days)
than the coverage of all the scams earlier put together."

The study said news channels focused more on scams
involving politicians and bureaucrats and big public events
like CWG.

Seven scandals were "more often reported" stories of news
media during the period of the study, but they accounted for
little over half of all corruption coverage.

"Of these, four were to do with government (2G, CWG,
Adarsh, Bofors), two were to do with civil society (Ramdev and
Anna Hazare) and two (Hasan Ali and Citi Bank) were from
private or corporate," the study found.

There were other corruption stories reported but covered
less often (like those related to ex-CJI K G Balakrishnan,
former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa) and some once
or twice (Pawan Bansal shop and Sugar scam in Maharashtra).

There is a distinct difference in the way various news
media covered various corruption stories, the study said.

"Corruption in public utilities mattered news media less
than in the case of bureaucrats. In fact, Aaj Tak and Star
News covered corruption in public utilities relatively much
less than five per cent against 51 per cent by CNN-IBN and 31
per cent by DD News," the study said.

As far as the newspapers are concerned, 2G scam was
covered much more by Hindustan Times and Times of India than
the other four dailies, whereas Ramdev mattered relatively
more for the three Hindi dailies.

Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Dainik Bhaskar and Hindustan
covered relatively more of Ramdev than any other story during
the period, while Dainik Jagran covered more of CWG than any
of the other scams, the study found.

"But, over all, Hindi dailies front paged Ramdev more and
devoted far more space than English dailies. Times of India
devoted least space for Ramdev. Anna was given more coverage
in the front pages of Hindustan and Hindustan Times, even in
January and June when he was not on fast," the report said.

Focus of English and Hindi news media also differed in
the extent of covering scandals. While Ramdev mattered more
for Hindi news media, channels and dailies, 2G scam mattered
much more in English news media, it added.

PTI



First Published: Friday, September 30, 2011 - 17:59

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