Was Anna Hazare campaign a media creation?

With the MMRDA grounds in Bombay not quite turning out to be the Ram Lila grounds of Delhi, and with the Lok Pal bill floundering in Parliament, it is time for some introspection in the media of the media’s role in the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement.


Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, at First Post:

“At the 2011 CNN IBN Indian of  the Year awards, Anna Hazare candidly admitted that it was the media which was responsible for his rise from a regional figure in  Maharashtra to a national icon. ‘If your cameras ‘had not followed me everywhere, who would know me?’ was the activist’s honest response.

“There is little doubt that over the last nine months, Hazare’s advisers used the media quite brilliantly. Prime-time press conferences, made-for-TV spectacles, social networking campaigns: Anna Hazare did benefit from saturation media coverage.

“Yes, some of  it was high-pitched,  and, yes, some journalists did become Anna cheerleaders. But to see Anna as purely a media phenomenon would be a misreading of  the mood on the street. Crowds were attracted to Anna not because the TV cameras were there, but because he appeared the antithesis of  a morally bankrupt political leadership beset with a series of  scams….

“In the end, both the state and Team Anna mistook the medium for the message. Team Anna saw the frenzied coverage as its main weapon, forgetting that democratic politics is not a repetitive television serial, but a tortuous process of  negotiation and conciliation. The state, on the other hand, failed to recognise that cacophony will be part of  a media environment in which there are more than 350 news channels and several hundred OB vans across India.

“The media will be a loudspeaker of  grievances, not just of Team Anna, but of  many other protest movements in the future. Strong leaders will not be swayed by the noise, a wise civil society will seek legitimacy beyond the camera lens.”

Manu Joseph, editor of Open magazine, in the International Herald Tribune:

“The Indian news media generate public interest through two distinct kinds of stories — the reporter’s story and the editor’s story. In 2005, when Parliament passed the Right to Information Act, it was the result of a long and difficult process of influencing public opinion by reformers and persistent reporters.

“The anti-corruption movement, on the other hand, was an editor’s story from the very beginning, from the moment Anna Hazare arrived in New Delhi in April, sat on a wayside with his supporters and threatened to starve to death if the government did not create the Lokpal.

“Television news quickly converted Hazare into a saint who had arrived from his village to fight the corrupt authorities in New Delhi. On the first day of his fast, there were no more than 300 people around him, but the cameras framed the fast in such a way that it gave the impression that something big was going on.

“The television news media, which are largely headquartered in New Delhi, had very little understanding of Hazare, who is from Maharashtra. Until last April, his influence was confined to rural parts of Maharashtra. By the time the anchors asked the important question — “Who exactly is Anna Hazare?” — it was too late. They had already proclaimed him a modern saint, and he had amassed millions of supporters in a matter of days. As it turned out, Hazare is not a man the urban middle class would normally call a saint.”

Also read: Anna Hazare: 17 interviews in 11 hours

How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna

The ex-Zee News journalist behind Anna Hazare show

Ex-Star News, ToI journos behind ‘Arnab Spring’

Is the media manufacturing middle-class dissent?

Should media corruption come under Lok Pal?

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21 Responses to “Was Anna Hazare campaign a media creation?”

  1. Karavali Says:

    Media is again indulging in simplistic analysis about the rise and ebb of Anna movement.

    While it’s true that media played a huge role in building up the Anna team, it was not the case of pulling out a rabbit out of hat. The issue of corruption was indeed there on the boil and media ust latched onto it at the right moment. It had to do it especially after Barkha and Vir-Gate to redeem itself and come out smelling of roses by being on the right side of middle-class outrage.

    But then they carried it too far by hogging every single minute of telecast and every inch of printed matter. It was as if there iwas simply no other problem or issue worth mentioning in the country at that point of time.

    This media overkill was the reason for Anna team’s decay. Many opportunistic groups jumped onto the band wagon and tried to bask in the reflected glory of the movement. These groups had the proverbial axe to grind against mainly Congress and tried the hatchet job. That killed the purity of the movement and rest is yesterday’s news.

  2. 498 A film Says:

    Hats off for this guy… I’ll definitely support him to fight against corruption by hook or cook.

  3. Kashinath Says:

    Anna hazare is out dated, Anna Bond is updated.

  4. Jayashree Says:

    Never! We will keep the momentum going! All youths and adults in India have the same objective.

  5. Alok Prasanna Kumar (@alokpi) Says:

    Anna Hazare was not a media creation. The media is giving itself (Manu Joseph included) too much credit in that regard.

    The Government played its part in its ham-fisted handling of the affair, but the enthusiasm of the crowds and the anger was not stage managed or deliberately provoked.

    What Anna’s team has done is exposed the duplicity of the entire political class of this country when it comes to corruption; they’re all against it (in public at least) except when they’re for it (in private, mostly).

    The Jan Lokpal bill agitation has shown that when it comes to corruption, it is in fact a national problem that is not “middle class”, or “educated” or “business” classes but a pervasive problem that effects everyone everywhere.

    What it has also done is provide us a set of real solutions which we can aim at in the short term to provide some succour from the problem.

    Whatever the fate of the JLPB agitation or the Bill itself, the nature and parameters of the corruption debate has changed, and changed dramatically.

  6. rajdeep critic Says:

    “Team Anna saw the frenzied coverage as its main weapon, forgetting that democratic politics is not a repetitive television serial, but a tortuous process of negotiation and conciliation.

    – Rajdeep blunders again . to form a sentence of sensationalism he misuses various words and believe me its not even sensational!!
    and he has his own sadness of network 18 not making money and has to fall into Ambani’s legs now.

    If you look at his website there will 20 headines on bollywood , 10 opposing views on regional cinemas 10 headlines on BIg Boss five on Cricket and 5 on congress bjp.

    HIs wife provides more entertainment than aNNa with similar sentences. you can find many on youtube.

    If this guy was during Gandhi’s satyagraha I am sure he would be more tortuous and critical than MountBatten and Nehru….


    poor and corrupt states like karnataka, Andhra who are strangled by centre always support the movement
    but there is one more INdia which reports that is Gujarat and Delhi at national level just because all journalism colleges are in Delhi and none of these poor states bother to start a national channel because of high rates of Ambika Soni to enter TV media.

  7. meghan Says:

    I don’t support Anna Hajare, But I support a 75 Year Old man who is living in a young country with an average age of 28 Year and Dare to fight with the biggest government missionary in the world with a moto to remove the corruption its same as taking away the food from Lions mouth, working with a passion like 20 Year old and Youngsters like us feel their duty to be fulfill after writing few comments on such posts or criticizing him on internet

  8. dr ramesh Says:

    Few days back, former bbc correspondent mark tully had criticized indian media for its relentless, unjustified coverage of team anna hazare civil movement. A young sage,swami nigamanand fasted over 15 days nonstop in protest against mining on the banks of the river ganga, media did not give coverage to this event, by the time they realised this ,nigamanand was dead. Media publicity cannot ensure success of a civil movement. Jaiprakash movement,gokak movement succeded with no 24/7 news channels because those were true civil agitations. Driving force of team anna movement were techies and corporates with no support from lower middleclass, worker class and the poor who form the majority of indian population. Wow , anna bond figures in anna hazare discussion. Anna team disappoints, anna bond rocks.

  9. Anand Baradi Says:

    People were fed up of corruption in the daily life . The citizens were looking up for some miracle apart from the mainstream political parties and this void was perfectly filled by Anna hazare

    Media for the sake of TRP just played the role of catalyst both +ve and -ve , there was some substance in the movement but like all things good or bad will have to come an end

    The Barkha , and her estranged siblings now kingpins ( Rajdeep , Arnab) are no different in the cut throat media market

    All izzzz well in the age of money , TRP , viewer’s share

  10. Faldo Says:

    The problem in anti corruption movements like this is that corruption is treated only as a an ethical or moral issue and not as a systemic problem. The entire focus of the Lokpal debate has been about who should be covered and who has control over whom. There has been little or no focus on where the most common occurrences of corruption happen and how processes can be streamlined to reduce those instances.
    One should recognize that India for all its progress is still a relatively poor country and when most people are struggling for their bread and butter, they would care less if access to essential resources is through corrupt means. Moreover, in a vast country with a lot of disparity corruption means different things to different people. With better reform, processes and education gradually this malaise may be contained. However, there are no quick fix solutions. This requires a lot of time, patience and better research of issues which people from this movement, political leaders or even the media persons are not willing to devote . It is far easier for them to project a leader, talk about a bill that can solve all problems and paint each other as villains.

  11. Ramesh Raghuvanshi Says:

    Anna is credulous and fool person he did not the psyche of Indian press.so he praising them When Anna started pulling mob than only media run behind him.Media want sale they never care movement is good or bad.even child felled in boar well that was also for media. breaking news Media always dance on tune of market.Man bite dog is their motto.

  12. harkol Says:

    Anna hazare may not be a saint, but is a far greater man than most Indians can ever aspire to become. People sitting in ivory tower, Spewing crap (Manu actually wrote in NYTimes that “Corruption isn’t one of India’s big problems”!).

    Anna is a simple, unassuming guy, who has dedicated his life to public work (methods perhaps not acceptable to some), A simpleton with simple worldview, but someone who chose his own path to strike against corruption.

    He never claimed to be a saint or a Gandhi, but atleast he isn’t an indulgent, sponsored Journalist who is a covert instrument of govt. People didn’t look for a saint in him either, they just needed a focal point to register protest.

    While these guys are at it – can they tell me how popular will be Rahul Gandhi, without the framed news and Gandhi Surname that his grand mother married into?

  13. A Journalist Says:

    Let this Hazare gang fight elections and win instead of blackmailing government using media. Entire IAC is a 100% media creation. Unfortunately most of media are also not so clean like IAC.

  14. Enigma Says:

    Many people including me will agree that Anna dedicated most of his life for social service, but this is not the point of discussion here. The point is anti-corruption movement started by Anna thrived mostly because of the help from media, which you have to agree. He may not be a sponsored journalist but he know how to handle and use media, this can be seen in his media coverage. The way he allows media to cover his every step from praying, to eating, to sleeping, to the way where he gave 17 interviews in 11 hours. With so much media coverage that he was getting he thought of imposing the ‘Jan Lokpal’ on the parliament, but the only thing that he forgot is that the media always go with the highest bidder. Which in this case is Govt., by omitting the Media from the Lokpal.

  15. A Journalist Says:

    PLEASE READ – The Megalomania called Team Anna | Hard News


    His every gesture reflects a complete negation of Gandhian values or ethics. His love for the poor is a farce. He is a feudal status quoist with unfulfilled militaristic instincts. He is a small timer fascist who has become a TV icon in a realm of a totally mediocre and partisan media looking for quick fix solutions, thoroughly compromised in terms of absence of journalistic ethics or values. Indeed, he is nothing but a street smart politician, with crude native cunning, working at the behest of sinister forces, covertly and overtly, without a tangible ideology, a sense of history, a knowledge system or political vision.

    Gandhi would have laughed at him. Indeed, instead of glorifying him, he should be dumped into the garbage can of history. Along with the entire reactionary, publicity seeking Megalomania called Team Anna.

  16. Anonymous guy Says:

    In the Middle East the Arab Spring just paved the way for dictator rule being replaced by Islamist rule. It seems RSS was trying to piggy back the same way on the Hazare ‘movement’.

    Democratic Indian systems like the press, judiciary and the executive handled the Anna Hazare protest as it should.

    If this has made people angry about things and made the government take notice, good. Rest will be decided in the elections and parliament. Hazare and team can continue protest, fast and disruptions as long as they want.

  17. harkol Says:

    Enigma: Any mass movement needs a media. I am not denying that. The point is did the media ‘create’ the movement. That’s not true.

    If some altu-faltu guy would’ve started a movement, it’d have fizzled out. The moral strength and his life’s example of sacrifice for public good is what made so many folks support Anna.

    All media did is to let people know a bunch of folks are protesting. If media shouldn’t do that, then what is Manu’s magazine doing? Is media there only to sensationalize Nira Radia tapes?

    Besides, he isn’t imposing Janlokpal on the Parliament. He is just pressuring the ruling class to do something that’s not a sham. If the main points (independence of investigation/Prosecution, equal coverage of all public officials) was achieved by multiple laws/agencies, I don’t think he’d have had any issues.

  18. Goldstar Says:

    Simplistic analysis by Manu Joseph. How can the TV media, which has by all accounts less than 2% viewership that too only in urban areas create such an event? These kind of articles are delusional articles to reiterate the self-importance of the “Old media”…. Trying to attach more importance to what the “old media” deserve. (sort of saying, we can create heroes or zeroes of anybody). The fact is nobody these days cares about what Open or Outlook is writing. More people see the “India Against Corruption” Facebook updates than the total subscribers of Outlook + India Today + Open put together.

  19. Kashinath Says:

    There is a saying “Hucchu munde maduve li undone jaaNa”. Various channels and new papers are those jaNa’s who cashed-in and increased their TRP’s by continously telecasting the Anna’s campaign. This anti corruption movement was never initiated by any electronic media since for them, funding bank is nothing but UPA government.

  20. Suhaib Ilyasi Says:

    He is a genuine guy and a powerful leader, we need to promote his guidelines to all nation.

  21. Vijay Dinanath Chohan Says:

    Corruption this small word carries a many. We are very much glad to watch the movement of Mr.Anna Hazare.But do we know that there is a corruption in between this movement? And if we would know that picture we could understand the reptile nature of it.Do not we follow that this particular movement is a specific direction based that is to bang the current elected government by hook or crook? Neither it is very much eager to find out the root of this scam or to heal it up. Instead of that, it is pampering the mass level agitation that this gentleman of that political party has taken this much of bribe or that amount of illegal activities hence create a parallel ‘constitute’ (set of rules or protocols) which will be controlled by common people (‘Lok’) and they will punish that politician in a very short span of time, rapidly. But original picture is very much freezing, that is, this ‘Lok’ will be from the team of Anna only; again there is the concept of centralized power, now the common mass is very happy with the clone and fair instance of Late ‘Gandhiji’,Mr.Hazare,his white costume (‘fair’) and the spectacle (Rim) appears him to be the second ‘Gandhiji’,even his statue of is also knocking us the memory of late ‘Gandhiji’.The story behind it, is a dart! Do we know how many rupees (Indian Currency) get drained for a rally of Mr.Hazare? How much money is wasted in case of convocation of Mr.Anna? What is the amount being spoiled in case of press called by Mr. Anna Hazare? Who is spending it? And from where it is coming? Who is the source of creating this organized mob who can even slap our reputed minister Mr. Power? As we common people is busy with our job or business or people like us spend our time against the corruption after covering and securing our bread at the very very early morning or tremendous night, like now!! Then who are they? Spending from morning to night, so many people, continuously staying with Mr.Hazare half of a year??!!Are they kings? If they, then how they can feel for common mass? And if they not (of course they are not), then who are meeting their stomach? As to us, first bread or butter then to raise question against others butter!!It is the absolute truth, which no one can ignore! Again all these queries are pointing that there is a steady source of fund to meet the ‘hunger’ of these people. Let me come to the source of it. I had worked in an organization last four years and understood the basic story of this white lie. This organization, branded as ‘Appin IT Security’ has been continuously doing something which might help us to reach to the origin of this fund. I(Appin) have generated a good amount of revenue cheating others by my(Appin) yellow education,now,it is my(Appin) time to do something revolutionary so that I could take a revenge against that political party who is not ‘my man’ ,whose elected minister has barred me to spread epidemic in education .How we can take an action against it? Very simple spend money to make these rallies successful, utilize the social media (as we are master in technology) like facebook ,do an organized campaigning utilizing the best of the best technological exploration which can keep this internet expose ranked ,and as well as, invest your human resource in the same direction and do starting organized brain wash of your club of employees by your top and middle level management. I can immediately recall two name of this organization Mr.Piyush Jha and Mr.Rajesh Kumar either directly or indirectly campaigned whisperingly for this bureaucrat Mr.Hazare.Mind that, those two gentlemen are from top level management of this institute and randomly spell lie and commit corruption in their own nature of business , for example spreading the business or opening the franchise, even one of them is having a false identity in facebook to cheat people and capping the corruption from the franchises of this institute. Then who is Mr.Anna? And what is his ideology? Whereas the source of this fund being ill and corrupted, coming from this type of small/middle scale IT corporate. “Before Spitting your head up, not to and never to forget it will pollute your own face”.-Vijay

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