Paper number one?

IN Regional Media | 15/12/2010
Quoting different surveys many Hindi newspapers in Jharkhand’s capital have begun claiming that they sell the most.
MAHTAB ALAM questions the claims
In Jharkhand, especially in its capital Ranchi, one finds banners and cut-outs by Hindi newspapers claiming, rather screaming, that they are the number one Hindi newspaper of the state. The list includes Prabhat Khabar, Hindustan, Dainink Jagran, Sanmarg and Dainik Bhasker.   
Prabhat Khabar, once considered to be one of the most progressive and pro-people newspapers with the tag line, ‘Akhbar nahi, Andolan (Revolution, not Newspaper) claims, “Prabhat Khabar, Jharkhand ka no. 1, Bharosa 27 varshon ka (Prabhat Khabar, No. 1 of Jharkhand. Trust for 27 years).’’ It gives ABC figures of July-December 09 to support its claim.
If Pharbhat Khabar is the number one Hindi daily of the state what about the claims made by other newspapers published in the state, say Hindustan, which says, “Hindustan—Jharkhand ka No.1 akhabar.’’ The source of its claim is AIR-IRS: Q2, 2010. On its hoarding the daily says, “14 lakh 69 hazar pathako ki record ke sath Hindustan hai Jharkhand ka sabse lokpriya akhbar, lagatar 7wain saal (With the record readership of 14 lacs and 69 thousand, Hindustan is the most popular newspaper of Jharkhand regularly in the seven year)”.
Needless to say, both the dailies disclose their sources of claims at the bottom of the hoarding in the minutest letters.  Any ordinary or potential reader of the newspaper can hardly read that. Even if we believe that these surveys are authentic and not influenced by any of the media houses, how can we compare as both cite different surveys? In this case, even the periods of the surveys are different. Moreover, Hindustan has claimed to be the No. 1 constantly since seven years. If in 2010 Hindustan is the number one since seven years, how can Prabhat Khabar be the number one in 2009?
Dainik Jagran makes similar claimsand Sanmarg, another Hindi daily with a small readership base is two steps ahead in claiming, “Khabaron main 1 and Price rupees 1 (No.1 in news and Price Rs. 1)”. On the top of 1, one would find a (*) sign usually used to denote the source of the claim but in this case one fails to find it.  
The most interesting claim—“Ranchi ka sabse bada akhbar (Biggest news paper of Ranchi), is made by the Hindi daily, Dainik Bhaskar. The daily, which made its entry in the state on 22 August this year, with a single edition published from Ranchi, started claiming within two months to be the largest selling Hindi newspaper. While the source of their claim is not known there are at least 5 dozen hoardings claiming this.  
In a situation like this where almost every Hindi newspaper claims to be number one, while the statistician may be a little confused, the reader does not have to consider at least the circulation aspect before buying a newspaper.
(Mahtab Alamis a civil rights’ activist and independent journalist currently based at Ranchi.
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