Myth versus fact: Southern coverage of Gujarat

IN Digital Media | 09/08/2002
' The standoff on Ayodhya (the VHP’s March 15 deadline, the Supreme Court

'  The standoff on Ayodhya (the VHP’s March 15 deadline, the Supreme Court  


'  Mr. Balayogi’s death in a helicopter crash


'  The daylight murder of SP MLA Manzoor Ahmad in Lucknow


'  The Supreme Court verdict in the Arundhati Roy case and her token imprisonment


'  The storming and ransacking of the Orissa State Assembly by VHP activists




The survey provided an opportunity to verify the truth about press coverage in the context of a number of allegations levelled against the so-called "national" (a.k.a. "Delhi-based") media in recent months. 


1.      Allegation: 




The "national" media did not pay due attention to the burning alive of passengers in a coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra on 27 February.








v     The event was reported  in lead stories with banner headlines at the top of Page 1, accompanied by colour photographs of the burning/burnt  compartment and/or charred bodies, in all the English and Kannada dailies included in the survey.




v     DH, NIE, TOI, KP, P, SK and VK published editorials strongly condemning the atrocity the very next day.  AA’s was the only edit appearing that day that did not categorically denounce the violence in Godhra (see below).  Among the English papers only H failed to carry an edit on the subject on the 28th.




v     Apart from the strongly worded front page headlines and stories, AA carried a bylined story on the 28th based on interviews with survivors from the Sabarmati Express atrocity, titled We were singing bhajans…suddenly we were attacked.








The effectiveness of communal propaganda is demonstrated by the fact that this allegation has stuck even though  press coverage of the violent attack on train passengers in Godhra was prominent, serious and critical.


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Doordarshan interviewed  two BJP ministers in the afternoon about what they thought of Rahul Gandhi's speech during the no-trust motion, and why BJP MPs had felt the need to come outside Parliament and attack him. Ministers of state Ashwini Chaubey and Ram Kirpal Yadav answered at considerable length and were allowed to have their say. The reporter also asked one of them what he thought about RG's hugging the PM and he effectively snorted in disapproval. When a panel discussion began after this,  more leading questions from the news anchor about this 'jadu ki jhappi."  And more criticism followed.                  says that  HT Media has reported a drop of 86 percent in its net profit for the June quarter to Rs 5.8 crore against Rs 41.5 crore reported by the firm during the same quarter of last year.  In May this year however  HT Media had reported over a two-fold increase in consolidated net profit  over the previous quarter, according to TOI.                     

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