CHURUMURI POLL: Anna Hazare and the media

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from Delhi: The media coverage of the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement, like the movement itself, is a story in two parts—and both show the perils of the watchdog becoming the lapdog, in diametrically opposite ways.

In Act I, Scene I enacted at Jantar Mantar in April, sections of the Delhi media unabashedly played along with the establishment in a “crude and disgusting character assassination”, discrediting civil society members in an attempt to strangulate the joint Lokpal drafting panel, without  showing any remorse.

In Act II, three scenes of which have been enacted in the past week at Tihar Jail, Chhatrasaal Stadium and now the Ramlila Grounds, there has been no need to invoke Armani and Jimmy Choo, after the government’s spectacular cock-ups at the hands of high-IQHarvard-educated lawyers who recite nursery-school rhymes to wah-wahs from unquestioning interviews.

On the contrary, it can be argued that the pendulum has swung to the other end this time round.

The Times of India and Times Now, both market leaders in number termshave made no attempt to hide where their sympathies lie in this “Arnab Spring”, when the urban, articulate, newspaper-reading, TV-watching, high-earning, high-spending, apolitical, ahistorical, post-liberalised, pissed-off-like-mad middle-class gets worked up.

When the market leaders go down that road, the others are left with no option but to follow suit.

Obviously neither extreme can be the media’s default position. However, unlike last time when there was little if not no criticism of the “orchestrated campaign of calumny, slander and insinuation“, at least two well known media figures  have found the courage to question this kind of wide-eyed, gee-whiz reporting.

Sashi Kumar, the founder of India’s first regional satellite channel Asianet and the brain behind the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), in Outlook*:

“In the race for eyeballs, a section of the media—some TV channels in particular—give the impression of sprinting ahead of the story and dragging it along behind them. What defies imagination, even as it stretches journalistic credibility, is that the messengers become the lead players, directing the route the story will take, conjuring up twists and turns where there are none, and keeping the illusion of news-in-the-making breathlessly alive….

“The relationship between such media and their essentially middle class consumers is becoming uncomfortably incestuous. When respondents cluster around a camera for a vox pop, they are not so much required to offer their independent view on an issue as add to the chorus of opinion orchestrated by the channel. A photo op masquerades as a movement. Dissident voices get short shrift. It is more like a recruitment drive than a professional journalistic exercise to seek and purvey news.

“Increasingly, the channel’s role seems to be to trigger and promote a form of direct democracy by the middle class. Politics and politicians are routinely debunked; even representative democracy doesn’t seem to make the grade.”

NDTV group editor and star anchor Barkha Dutt too strikes a similar note in the Hindustan Times:

“Critics of the Hazare campaign have questioned the media narrative as well, accusing wall-to-wall TV coverage of holding up a permanent oxygen mask to the protests. It’s even been pointed out that Noam Chomsky’s scathing commentary on the mass media -‘Manufacturing Consent’ would be re-written in TV studios today as Manufacturing Dissent.

“But again, if the TV coverage of the protests is overdone, it only proves that the UPA’s perennial disdain for the media — and the diffidence of its top leaders — has given its opponents the upper hand in the information battle. There is something so telling about the fact that 74-year-old Anna Hazare made effective use of the social media by releasing a YouTube message from inside jail and the PM of India’s oldest political party is still to give his first interview to an Indian journalist.”

Questions: How do you rate the media role in crafting the Anna Hazare movement? Has it been too unquestioning, or has it played the role expected of it? Has it tapped into middle-class sentiment with an eye on circulation and TRPs?

Also readThe ex-Zee News journo on Anna Hazare team

Ex-Star News, ToI journos on Anna Hazare team

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25 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: Anna Hazare and the media”

  1. Hakuchi Samurai Says:

    LOL @bdutt.. Aachara.. badanekAyi… brindavana

  2. Ramesh Raghuvanshi Says:

    Really speaking Anna created this havoc and media running behind him..Anna given l to deathbed media new life.It is Anna `s magic which is pulling public to Ramlila ground..People of India are waiting from long time messiah who can change their sorrow.Anna created such atmosphere. He is sanyasi , selfless, no property no family. Spend his life for welfare of people. His hunger strike giving massage that he will remove all trouble of people In Gita Krishna told when ..ever chaos, injustice, corrupt ion spread in India he will born and remove all injustice.People are looking in Anna new messiah so he is getting support from allover the world

  3. kukkumol Says:

    anna hazare is doing what the pepole of India should done from the time of independence i.e. say no to corruption. We the pepole are responsible for letting the currupt pepole grow. The act against corruption should be continuted till the world exist.

  4. Deepak Says:

    Media has gone overboard, Hindi channels are going whole hog in favour of Anna. Congress lackeys like CNN-IBN and NDTV are doing their best to discredit Anna. Arnab Goswami (inspite of his in-your-face anchoring) is doing a fair job, he is atleast trying to be unbiased and present both sides of the picture.

    But media has to take a stand, even newspapers are taking positions mostly in favour of Anna. But the point is even if media opposes Anna, it is unlikely to dilute his support among the people.

  5. Yash Says:

    I think they’re just overplaying this whole issue.
    The media should stay unbiased and do what it is supposed to: get both sides of the issue in front of the people and stop polarizing it as For or Against. That’ll go a big way in helping people form an independent opinion.
    All this is well articulated in this article. Good read….

  6. kaangeya Says:

    When Sasi Kumar (my fellow Madrasi – he’s from Egmore) does is first story on the hyping up of the utterly incompetent Pappu Baba aka Raul Gandhi and suspends his movie on Buddha based on a dishonest script that paints Hindus as villains, I will be better disposed towards his arguments. All media is dishonest. Sashi is just saying, “Mine is smaller than yours.” Sashi is a sanctimonious jerk.

  7. Pavan Says:

    Karan Tapar in his Devil’s Advocate has undermined the Anna’s Movement his questions to Aravind and Prasanth were biased and motivated with a hidden agenda of undermining the movement

    http://ibnlive.in.com/shows/Devil%27s-Advocate.html

  8. Prakash Hazare Says:

    280 लाख करोड़ का सवाल है …
    भारतीय गरीब है लेकिन भारत देश कभी गरीब नहीं रहा”* ये कहना है स्विस बैंक के डाइरेक्टर का. स्विस बैंक के डाइरेक्टर ने यह भी कहा है कि भारत का लगभग 280 लाख करोड़ रुपये उनके स्विस बैंक में जमा है. ये रकम इतनी है कि भारत का आने वाले 30 सालों का बजट बिना टैक्स के बनाया जा सकता है.
    या यूँ कहें कि 60 करोड़ रोजगार के अवसर दिए जा सकते है. या यूँ भी कह सकते है कि भारत के किसी भी गाँव से दिल्ली तक 4 लेन रोड बनाया जा सकता है.

    ऐसा भी कह सकते है कि 500 से ज्यादा सामाजिक प्रोजेक्ट पूर्ण किये जा सकते है. ये रकम इतनी ज्यादा है कि अगर हर भारतीय को 2000 रुपये हर महीने भी दिए जाये तो 60 साल तक ख़त्म ना हो. यानी भारत को किसी वर्ल्ड बैंक से लोन लेने कि कोई जरुरत नहीं है. जरा सोचिये … हमारे भ्रष्ट राजनेताओं और नोकरशाहों ने कैसे देश को लूटा है और ये लूट का सिलसिला अभी तक 2011 तक जारी है.
    इस सिलसिले को अब रोकना बहुत ज्यादा जरूरी हो गया है. अंग्रेजो ने हमारे भारत पर करीब 200 सालो तक राज करके करीब 1 लाख करोड़ रुपये लूटा.
    मगर आजादी के केवल 64 सालों में हमारे भ्रष्टाचारियों ने 280 लाख करोड़ लूटा है. एक तरफ 200 साल में 1 लाख करोड़ है और दूसरी तरफ केवल 64 सालों में 280 लाख करोड़ है. यानि हर साल लगभग 4.37 लाख करोड़, या हर महीने

    Visit Our Websiteकरीब 36 हजार करोड़ भारतीय मुद्रा स्विस बैंक में इन भ्रष्ट लोगों द्वारा जमा करवाई गई है.

    भारत को किसी वर्ल्ड बैंक के लोन की कोई दरकार नहीं है. सोचो की कितना पैसा हमारे भ्रष्ट राजनेताओं और उच्च अधिकारीयों ने ब्लाक करके रखा हुआ है.

    हमे भ्रस्ट राजनेताओं और भ्रष्ट अधिकारीयों के खिलाफ जाने का पूर्ण अधिकार है.हाल ही में हुवे घोटालों का आप सभी को पता ही है – CWG घोटाला, २ जी स्पेक्ट्रुम घोटाला , आदर्श होउसिंग घोटाला … और ना जाने कौन कौन से घोटाले अभी उजागर होने वाले है

  9. sanjeeva Says:

    The role of media is just right. Any people’s movement needs media support and the media is extending it. However, Karan Thapar is horrible. It is one-sided. He questions, he answers. He is loud, snob, dogmatic, pedagogic with an sir of ‘I am the one who knows and correct’ and tries to impose himself. The best is Arnab Goswami – Unbiased and gives equal opportunity to both the sides and does not interrupt too much. However, local print media is wanting very much. Their attitude is one of skeptic and cynic. Fence sitters. (I am talking about Kannada language. I don’t know about other languages.

  10. twistleton Says:

    Make no mistake, this movement is being carried forward with almost corporate discretion.

    On the face of it we have the media blitzkreig and the emotional rhetoric doing well the job of a water cannon that is spraying hysteria and euphoria in equal measure, while giving the impression of much being recognized and realized – an epiphany a day! or so they say…

    But what of the issue itself? It does not have the shock-value of a Digvijay Singh/Varun Gandhi statement, nor does it pretend to be radical in its thought and approach. Fight against corruption – how very genial and comfortable it is. Big, bad corruption, whom everyone loves to hate. “Nitty-gritties are for nerds! Death to the Babus!” and all that.

    Team Anna, knowlegeable protestors (if any) and the media are playing a safe game by targetting a fabled monster instead of a hard-headed, questioning and much less romantic approach.

    They do promise fights for reforms, abstractedly. But no one is supposed to take a ‘closer look’ at the problems outlined by Team Anna. There has been a conscious drawing of lines, no ‘fraternizing with the enemy’ and strictly no introspection.

    “Hate the 3G scam, but not your 3G connections, stupid!
    Everyone except a politician is allowed to amass wealth.”

    In giving digital depth to a shallow and unimaginative process, the media has proven once again that it is the master in the art of dissimulation.

  11. Nastika Says:

    @Prakash Hazare translated to a readable language, courtesy http://translate.google.com/:

    280 ಕೋಟಿ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ …
    ಭಾರತ ಬಡ, ಆದರೆ ಭಾರತ ಕಳಪೆ ಎಂದಿಗೂ, “* ಸ್ವಿಸ್ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕ್ ನಿರ್ದೇಶಕ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾರೆ.
    ಅಥವಾ ಸುಮಾರು 60 ದಶಲಕ್ಷ ಉದ್ಯೋಗ ಅವಕಾಶಗಳ ಒದಗಿಸಬಹುದು.

    ಇದು 500 ಕ್ಕೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ ಯೋಜನೆಗಳು ಪೂರ್ಣಗೊಂಡ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಬಹುದು.ಭಾರತ ಅಗತ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ವಿಶ್ವ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕ್ ಸಾಲ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದು.
    ಈ ಪ್ರವೃತ್ತಿ ಈಗ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸಲು ಬಹಳ ಮುಖ್ಯ. ನಮ್ಮ ಸುಮಾರು 200 ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಭಾರತ ಆಳಿದರು ಮತ್ತು ರೂ 1 ಲಕ್ಷ ಕೋಟಿ ನುಗ್ಗಿ.
    ಆದರೆ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯ ಕೇವಲ 64 ವರ್ಷಗಳ ನಮ್ಮ ಭ್ರಷ್ಟಾಚಾರ 280 ಕೋಟಿ ಸುಲಿಗೆ ಹೊಂದಿದೆ. 200 ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಒಂದು ಭಾಗ 1 ಟ್ರಿಲಿಯನ್ ಮತ್ತು ಇತರ ಭಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ 280 ಕೋಟಿ ಕೇವಲ 64 ವರ್ಷಗಳು. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಪ್ರತಿ ವರ್ಷ ಸುಮಾರು 4,37 ಲಕ್ಷ ಕೋಟಿ, ಅಥವಾ ಪ್ರತಿ ತಿಂಗಳು

    ನಮ್ಮ ವೆಬ್ಸೈಟ್ ಭೇಟಿ ಕನಿಷ್ಠ 36 ಸಾವಿರ ಕೋಟಿ ರೂಪಾಯಿ ಭ್ರಷ್ಟ ಮೂಲಕ ಸ್ವಿಸ್ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಕ್ಷೇಪಗಳು ಮಾಡಿದೆ.

    ವಿಶ್ವ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕ್ ಸಾಲ ಭಾರತದ ಅಗತ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ. ನಮ್ಮ ಭ್ರಷ್ಟ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಉನ್ನತ ಅಧಿಕಾರಿಗಳು ಬ್ಲಾಕ್ಗಳನ್ನು ಮೂಲಕ ಇಡಲಾಗುವುದು ಎಷ್ಟು ಹಣ ಥಿಂಕ್.

  12. sanjeeva Says:

    twistleton, statements of Varun and Diggi have no shock value, but joke value. Really, you don’t take them seriously!

  13. ERR Says:

    When Sibal / Chidu / Ambika / Mms came on TV and parliament to defend their government, by a strange coincidence the first letters in their name spelt S -C -A -M.!

  14. twistleton Says:

    @Sanjeeva

    Exactly buddy. All i’m saying is: “Much Ado About Nothing” :D

  15. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    @twistleton, I agree completely. It is the media, which is “fasting” in a literal sense. And this is one “fast” that is going to leave some supermen in the media very weak in years to come.

    When the drama unravels, media will be left with an empty stomach and egg on its face….

    There is a limit to which you can hype something. All of us are against corruption, but we need a logical and resonable way to fight the menace.

  16. Dr Kiran Acharya Says:

    Good take by Arundhati Roy! For once, what she has written, makes sense!!!
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2379704.ece?homepage=true

  17. vetrimagal Says:

    Arnab could have been a judge , or a lawyer. He is tiresome, forceful , sometimes brilliant. He should tone down and take a vacation soon.

  18. balasubrahmanyan Says:

    can anyone give link to Chomsky’s article on Manufacturing consent

  19. raj Says:

    Can any body explain, why the media, particularly the Times Group has taken dramatically opposite view on the same concern i.e corruption raised by two different public figure i.e Baba Ramdev and Anna. Media which used to be information provider has now assumed a role of opinion maker and the selective coverage of the events, selective release of information, sensationalism,implanted stories, class and creed bias are some of the characters of the Indian print and electronic media.

    ( Raj)

  20. Jay Says:

    Guys check this out:

    Hooliganism in the name of Anna movement..
    CNN-IBN Senior Editor DP Satish was beaten up by a group of youngsters claiming to be Hazare supporters on Monday night.

    http://ibnlive.in.com/news/hooliganism-in-the-name-of-anna-movement/178033-3.html

  21. harish charvaka Says:

    Every one should support anti corruption movement. But the way adopted by and deamand of Anna Hajare and his team is against to the basic pirinciples of constitution. The people need to be educated on corruption issue and should be adopted in their own life it only be effective thn any anti corruption law to stop the corruption. Demand to bring the head of the judiciary and prime minister is funny and unconstitutional for simple reason any prudent man can understand.

  22. Neha Says:

    i think we need to apply thoughts of bhaghat singh and subhashchandra bose we do not need thoughts of gandi…

  23. sumakani Says:

    I agree with @twistleton, This media has equated Mr. Anna to MK Gandhi. 1st of all we should observe that MKG has made the followers to follow the right path before get into the movement of satyagraha so that they will have the moral courage to take on the wrongdoers. Where as look at the persons who are in line to support Anna movement. All film stars who never pay taxes properly and amass blackmoney, business people who are not ready to vouch that they will record all their financial transactions properly and issue bills, pay VAT and other taxes, or medical-shop fellows and doctors who are amassing wealth with the connivance of each other. It is like this, i need not follow the law of the land it is only for govt employees or politicians to follow it. I will question every movement of theirs but mine should not be questioned. This movement is lacking the transparency which is needed to force the Govt to come with more stronger Lok-Pal bill. Firstly, i refuse to accept the so called ‘Civil Society’ members have any right to represent me(A common man) to form any bill which in turn screened by Corporate Honchos. I doubt the concern of the media as the media itself is in the mud of 3G scam. It is first time many corporate heads are behind bars on corruption charges in 3G and suddenly all this Anna movement started and media is harping on it. It is very clear that there is a strategy in it. Please understand properly.

  24. Neha Says:

    The media has played the role as it was supposed to. In the most unquestioning fashion. Like a drama. The Anna Team has really managed the media well, manipulating it in the best possible way. The media just played along. Their PR strategy was good, well formed. In fact the backdrop photo of Gandhi was ‘chosen’ because it was more secular and reaffirmed the point that this is a Gandhian protest.

    So, yes, every single visual imagery is has been constructed to present a certain meaning. And the media has obviously followed the script.

  25. Vishnu Says:

    Anna’s movement was the perfect visual drama for channels and it displaced the Indian cricket team’s abysmal defeat against England. Never in the last two weeks the media bothered to discuss the “constitutional validity and ramifications” of such a one-sided movement. Just like the UPA, the channels drifted from one position to another, and the numbers ultimately won, Except a few, none bothered to discuss the merits and demerits of the Lokpal bill versions, alternatives, and the threatening voices of Team Anna, The media was biased towards the Anna crowd and it simply drowned the voices of people who had an entirely different view of how Indian democracy should work.

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