Anna effect: Graft issue dominated newspapers & TV channels
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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.


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

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