PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Six minutes and 20 seconds into his vote of thanks at the culmination of Anna Hazare‘s fast-unto-death last Sunday, the RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal heaped plaudits on the media for the support it had lent to the Jan Lok Pal bill agitation by “articulating the outrage of the nation”.
Pointing at the jungle of anchors, reporters, cameramen and crane operators in the media pen in front of the stage at the Ramlila maidan, Kejriwal said the “media weren’t just doing their job… they are now part of the movement”.
“Hum in saari media ke shukr guzaar hain. Yeh aap dekhiye, abhi bhi camera lekar, tadapti dhoop mein khade hain, yeh log. Yeh zaroori nahin, kewal inki naukri nahin thi. Yeh log ab andolan ka hissa hain. Raat-raat bhar, chaubis-chaubis ghante, bina soye in logon ne hamari andolan mein hissa liya, hum mediake saathiyon ko naman karte hain.”
Kejriwal’s general gratitude was for television whose frenetic and fawning coverage instantly took the message to parts of the country print wouldn’t dream of reaching in the next half a century. (A TV critic wrote last week that a survey of TV coverage of Hazare’s Jantar Mantar fast in April found 5592 pro-Anna segments versus just 62 that were anti-Anna.)
But if Kejriwal had to choose one English language publication in particular for rounding up “Middle India” in round two of the fight for a strong anti-corruption ombudsman, the honour should surely go to The Times of India.
From the day after Anna Hazare was prematurely arrested on August 16 to August 29, the day he ended his fast, the New Delhi edition of The Times of India took ownership of the story and played a stellar role in mobilising public opinion and exerting pressure on the political class.
# Over 13 days, the main section of the Delhi edition of The Times of India, covered the Anna Hazare saga over 123 broadsheet pages branded “August Kranti” (August Revolution), with 401 news stories, 34 opinion pieces, 556 photographs, and 29 cartoons and strips.
# On seven of the 13 days of the fast, the front page of Delhi ToI had eight-column banner headlines. The coverage, which included vox-pops and special pages, even spilled over to the business and sports pages, with the Bofors scam-accused industrialist S.P. Hinduja offering his wisdom.
# In launching a toll-free number for readers to give a “missed call” if they wanted a strong Lokpal bill, ToIwas almost indistinguishable from the India Against Corruption movement behind Hazare. ToI claims that over 46 lakh people have registered their vote.
In short, backed by an online campaign titled “ACT—Against Corruption Together” plus the Arnab Goswami show on Times Now, the Times group provided substantial multi-media heft to the Jan Lok Pal campaign.
In its almost completely uncritical coverage of Round II, The Times of India provided a sharp contrast to the almost completely cynical coverage of Round I by The Indian Express four months ago, the former batting out of his crease for for the wider constituency of the reader, consumer, voter and citizen.
Remarkably, also, for a publication of its size and girth, ToI took an unhesitatingly anti-establishment stand in its headlines and choice of stories, showing where it stood on corruption—an issue agitating readers in its core demographic—in a manner in which most large newspapers are loathe to do.
There were only token negative pieces like the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid calling the protest “anti-Islam”; Dalits wanting a Bahujan Lokpal bill; or Arundhati Roy calling Hazare’s stand “undemocratic”. On the whole, though, ToIcoverage was gung-ho as gung-ho goes, especially judging from some of the mythological, militaristic headlines.
Just what was behind the ToI‘s proactive stand still remains to be deciphered.
Was it merely reflecting the angst and anger of its middle-class readership? Was it taking the scams, many of which it broke and which brought the Lok Pal issue to the head, to its logical conclusion? Or, does the involvement of its in-house godman in the proceedings, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, lend a clue?
Was it willy-nilly taking part in the dark rumours of “regime-change” swirling around Delhi? Or, was it just doing what a good newspaper is supposed to do: taking a stand, making sense of an increasingly complicated world to a time and attention strapped reader, and speaking truth to power?
Whatever be the truth, the fact that ToI took such a popular-with-readers, unpopular-with-government stand when it is involved in a no-holds-barred campaign to stall the implementation of the Majithia wage board recommendations for newspaper employees, speaks volumes of its conviction on the Lok Pal issue.
August 17: Coverage on 14 pages, 34 news stories, 2 opinion pieces, 41 photographs, 1 cartoon
Lead headline: Govt can’t stop August Kranti—Morning arrest turns into nightmare for Centre as Anna refuses to leave Tihar unless allowed to protest
Other headlines: 1) A million mutinies erupt across India; 2) Congress’s big blunders; 3) Emergency is the word for Gen Y; 4) Anna held, people hurt; 5) Intellectuals draw parallels with Emergency, JP movement; 6) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Govt is being arrogant; 7) The Indian protester rediscovers Gandhigiri; 8) Emergency makes a comeback to political lexicon; 9) Annacalypse Now! Angry India on the streets; 10) Emergency redux, say legal experts
Editorial: Wrongful arrest—government action against Anna Hazare leaves it isolated and sans goodwill
Opinion: State vs Anna—Hazare’s arrest serious questions about India’s ‘democratic’ claims
Opinion poll: 92% say govt’s handling of Anna is undemocratic
August 18: Coverage on 10 pages, 36 news stories, 3 opinion pieces, 56 photographs, 4 cartoons
Lead headline: People march, govt crawls—sledgehammered by nationwide outrage, UPA withdraws almost all its earlier curbs on Anna protest
Other headlines: 1) Global bank VP on ‘fasting leave’ from Hong Kong; 2) India Inc backs Anna; 3) Dabbawallas, NGOs building ‘Anna Army’; 4) This way or no way, says Anna; 5) Govt fails to move Mount Anna; 6) In Hazare and Baba Ramdev, govt has two powerful adversaries; 7) ‘9 months to arrest Suresh Kalmadi, 3 mins for Anna’; 8)
Editorial: Anna wins the day—With public anger swelling, government must take a stand on corruption
Opinion headlines: 1) Have a referendum on sticking points; 2) Let an independent arbiter decide; 3) Are you an Anna dater, a Jokepalwalla or, worst, a piggyback passionista? 4) Civil society frustrated at lack of government action
August 19: Coverage on 9 pages, 26 news stories, 4 opinion pieces, 27 photographs, 3 cartoons
Lead headline: Judiciary out of Lokpal? Team Anna softens stand
Other headlines: 1) Brand Anna is a rage: youth wear him on T-shirts; 2) Protesters rename Chhatrasal stadium after Anna; 3) Sensing hour of reckoning, Tihar protesters give war cry; 4) ‘Gandhi’ takes world media by storm; 5) Indian editorials slam govt handling; 6) Fight to go on for generations, says Aung San Syu Ki; 7) Expatriates in south east Asia rally round Anna;
Editorial: Seize the day—reform is a powerful anti-corruption tool
Opinion headlines: 1) It’s the middle class, stupid; 2) 10 measures to reduce corruption
August 20: Coverage on 8 pages, 30 news stories, 3 opinion pieces, 46 photographs, 2 cartoons
Lead headline: Anna rides wrath yatra, ups ante
Other headlines: 1) On fourth day of fast, 74-year-old outsprints cops; 2) He gives supporters a run for their money; 3) ‘I am Anna’s Krishna in the Mahabharata against graft’; 4) Cap fits: no weakening satyagraha—gives call for ‘second freedom movement’, will fight till last breath; 5) Amma Hazares join the cause; 6) Protest tourism: why Anna catches their (foreigners’) fancy; 7) ‘Parliament isn’t supreme, public is’
Editorial: When khaki met khadi—a confused cop learns about being civil, through agitation
Opinion headlines: 1) Which democracy do we want? 2) Reclaiming moral authority
August 21: Coverage on 8 pages, 25 news stories, 2 opinion pieces, 36 photographs, 1 cartoon
Lead headline: Angry tide forces Manmohan’s hand
Other headlines: 1) 35% drop in crime during Hazare’s fast; 2) Parents bring kids to Anna ki pathshala; 3) Painter plans to capture ‘Anna legacy’ till passage of bill; 2) Parents want kids to see history being made; 5) Over one million join ToI anti-graft drive;
Opinion headlines: 1) Arrest corruption, not those who protest against it; 2) Why I’d hate to be in Hazare’s chappals
August 22: Coverage on 7 pages, 23 news items, 1 opinion piece, 28 photographs, 3 cartoons
Lead headline: All roads lead to Annapolis
Other headlines: 1) Crowding glory—over one lakh throng Ramlila ground; 2) Protestors take metro, ridership at New Delhi jumps by 50%; 3) Religious lines blur for Anna’s cause; 4) Anna gives call for revolution to surging masses; 5) Lockedpal: earn our trust, team Anna tells govt; 6) Anna’s army pickets netas’ homes
Opinion headline: Re-negotiating democracy
August 23: Coverage on 10 pages, 30 news stories, 2 opinion pieces, 46 photographs, 1 cartoon
Lead headline: Govt may relent, put PM under Lokpal
Other headlines: 1) Gen Y rocks to Anna’s beat; 2) At maidan, 80,000 celebrate carnival against corruption; 3) Behind the public face, a very private man; 4) Aam admi thinks bill is cure-all; 5) Anna proves the power of the big idea: management gurus
Editorial: Start talking—dialogue and flexibility can break the Lokpal logjam
August 24: Coverage on 9 pages, 35 news items, 1 opinion piece, 38 photographs, 3 cartoons
Lead headline: Govt bends 70%, Anna seeks 90%
Other headlines: 1) 22 newborns in MP named after Anna; 2) ‘Don’t let them take me’; 3) Unsung soldiers: they sacrifice daily bread for Anna; 4) Maidan doesn’t sleep, volunteers up at dawn; 5) Anna critic Aruna Roy briefs Rahul on grievance bill, calls on Jairam Ramesh; 6) Anger against plutocracy legitimate, saysPrakash Karat
Opinion headline: Beyond Anna’s India—is anger against corruption blinding us to other evils?
August 25: Coverage on 8 pages, 30 news items, 4 opinion pieces, 38 photographs, 2 cartoons
Lead headline: From breakthrough to breakdown
Other headlines: 1) Braveheart Hazare baffles doctors; 2) Judge follows his conscience, speaks out for Jan Lokpal bill; 3) Destination Ramlila maidan: get a free auto ride; 4) Critic Aruna Roy comes calling; 5) Aamir Khan is brain behind picketing MPs; 6) ‘542 VIPs are making a fool of 120 crore people’
Editorial: The Lokpal moment—it’s a good time for Anna to end his fast and join the discussions
Opinion headlines: 1) Fasting as democracy decays; 2) Celebrities endorse Anna movement in large numbers—they are citizens too
Online toll: 22.7 lakh join ToI online campaign against graft
August 26: Coverage on 8 pages, 32 news items, 3 opinion pieces, 38 photographs, 3 cartoons
Lead headline: PM walks extra mile, Anna unmoved
Other headlines: 1) 5,000 cops to fortify PM, but Anna army sneaks past posts; 2) Witnessing power of people, says Army chief; 3) Hardliners holding up Lokpal resolution; 4) Angry Anna: UPA ministers take the hit in virtual world; 5) ‘Sonia Gandhi would have handled situation better’
Editorial: Seize this opportunity—Anna Hazare shows flexibility, the govt must do so too
Opinion headline: Finding the middle ground
Online toll: 25,30,251 votes
August 27: Coverage on 11 pages, 34 news items, 3 opinion pieces, 50 photographs, 3 cartoons
Lead headline: House hopes to send Anna home
Other headlines: 1) Downcast but steadfast; 2) Fast hits country’s financial health—reforms put off because of Anna stir, may take a toll on growth; 3) Sports icons one with Team Anna
Editorial headline: A carnival called India—from Gandhigiri to Annagiri, it’s dhak-dhak go
Opinion headline: Saintliness in politics cuts both ways
Online toll: 32,09,129 votes
August 28: Coverage on 9 pages, 35 news items, 2 opinion pieces, 64 photographs, 1 cartoon
Lead headline: Anna wins it for the people—To break fast at 10 am today as Parliament bows to Hazare’skhwahish and PM sends letter
Other headlines: 1) Anna’s next: India tour for clean leaders; 2) Anna superfast arrives; 3) Anna sets House in order
Opinion headlines: 1) Don’t mess with the middle-class; 2) How to reverse the trust deficit
Online toll: 39,74, 515 votes
August 29: Coverage on 12 pages, 31 news items, 4 opinion pieces, 48 photographs, 2 cartoons
Lead headline: Only deferred fast, fight goes on: Anna
Other headlines: 1) Can’t trust govt, have to keep watch: Prashant Bhushan; 2) ‘Battle is won, war has just begun’; 3) ‘This victory is our second freedom’; 4) Anna among top brands online
Editorial: Dance of democracy
Opinion headlines: 1) Has Anna really won? 2) Ways to fit the bill—accommodating Anna’s three key demands will require imaginative lawmaking
Also read: Is the Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?
Is the media manufacturing middle-class dissent?
Biggest loser in the this so-called crusade against corruption is not the political class. It is the Times of India. Finally I lost my faith completely in this newspaper.
Once upon a time, this newspaper used to be famous for its balanced coverage and wonderful analysis. Today it has the reputation of being the chief publicist of a crusade to nowhere.
Perhaps the newspaper needs a new editor, someone who can bring in a new way of thinking.
I am really concerned about the way TOI is going, because I understand very well that India needs this powerful media house. We don’t have any other media house that is capable of taking on the political class.
TOI is need of reform, it is needs reform even more urgently than the country’s political class. The newspaper needs to learn once again that news does not been useless hype. It means reporting of truth.
you got problem with that?
Hats off to the guy who compiled and analysed this. One may like to disagree with this, but that can happen only after a few sessions of deep thinking. Thanks for sharing this. Oh, BTW did I tell you that the TOI once had a header in the late 90s that screamed Sonia Gandhi was joining BJP? This was when the Congress went in pursuit of Ashok Jain, owner of Times group for looting the nation by violating FERA. You may want to read this ‘A newspaper scandal’ Editorial changes in The Times of India raise disturbing questions. Sudha Mahalingam, (FRONTLINE, Vol. 15 :: No. 12 :: June 06 – 19, 1998)
Churumuri has no problems about TOI putting masala news on the front page every day???
Presume you’ll attend https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=278707828813011
The only “August Kranti” I know of is the famous Mumbai – Delhi Rajdhani Express.
And how much anti RSS and BJP articles on thsi blog we should do an analysis
So the campaign for balanced reporting has started.
Balanced means neither here nor there.
Try truth for a change.
Ek Omkar SatNam
TOI represents an abhor-able sensation seeking journalism. Arnab Goswami is one irritatingly agressive anchor, who never lets anyone else speak.
Their decision to take a stand on Anna was perhaps tempered by the populism. After-all it was supposed to be middle-India that supported Anna (though the evidence is to the contrary). It is an altruistic approach to earn viewership. Its coverage didn’t stand up to the dignity, integrity and impartiality needed in news coverage.
Having said that, one thing is true – It took some courage to go anti-establishment. Indian express fell on the other side of the line – It went completely pro-establishment.
Yes Churumuri, I too agree with you that there seems to be a foreign hand behind Anna, which is yet to be uncovered!
The media especially the likes of TOI, NDTV and CNN-IBN has been a puppet of the UPA and has gone overboard is singing praises of Rahaul Gandhi and, his mom .
Altleast now, TOI seems to have woken up and realised that its idols have clay feet. TOI and Times Now have done a good job by supporting a pro-people movement. Kudos to them.
Normally I don’t like to use words such as “playboy’, but in this case that is the most fit word. Hence I have to use it. I hope the readers of this blog will not mind my strong words.
The biggest problem with TOI is that a pair of hopeless and non-serious playboys have inherited it. It is a freak accident of destiny that they inherited what was once a great newspaper.
These two playboys are now determined to destroy the brand TOI forever. Every time I see the pictures of these two playboys, they are laughing and smiling in some page 3 type of slutty-party.
If these guys are partying 30 days a month (round the clock), then how are they ever going to have the time to manage the newspaper empire that their ancestors created after decades of hard work.
These two playboys have turned the the newspaper upside down. Now it is a Page 3 paper from first page to the last. You can read the entire newspaper in 10 minutes. There is nothing worth reading in it.
Actually, these folks in the toi don’t bother about headlines and their implications. They are worried about the person sitting next in the desk, whether his/her headline would turn out to be more sexy the next morning. Being overcrazed about creativity is the company’s desk philosophy across its editorial offices. ToI is our perfect homegrown example of what David Foster Wallace said:
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things – if they are where you tap real meaning in life – then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.
On one level, we all know this stuff already – it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power – you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.
And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it.
But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
— I hope some sober ToI REs read this and understand well —
When NDTV can run a program talking about whether Rahul Gandhi should take up the leadership of Congress party…
When CNN IBN can discuss in prime time, the need for Rahul Gandhi to lead the nation…
When website like Churumuri openly side with the Congress…
Why shouldn’t TOI side with a Gandhian who is fighting for a just cause??
@Karthik Bharadvaj – LOL! You’re saying as if writing anti-RSS and anti-BJP posts is a bad thing. Next you’ll say writing against Al Quaeda is a bad thing. :)
In this way Analysis should be done the way CNN IBN has more Anti Anna Experts in there Programmes.Especially the 10pm show.
They are getting as many possible who are opposing the Anna movement.About TImes of India we should rather appreciate that they have got pulse of People sentiments and thats been reflected in their paper and their channel.After all the scams of the central government this was expected.why be surprised with that .infact in Tamil Nadu DMK lost election koz of corruption is that also Media managed !!!!!.
a) @Natasha – powerful! Maybe, if you could have included what you think drove this movement, your piece will be complete.
b) Generally, TOI was delirious in its pro-Annaness, but there were a couple of skeptical editorials now and then.
In August 2011, the Times of India degenerated from being a newspaper to views-paper. Mostly one sided views.
TOI is better off covering page 3 parties. Turns out facts and real news is not their cup of tea.
Entire Electronic Media & Print media played a wonderful part by discharging their dutied & becoming part & parcel of Jan Andolan of JANLOK PAL BILL agitation.Keep it up.HURRAH
It seems as though TOI and other papers of its ilk are trying to atone for their silence during the Emergency era. In those days the Indian Express led by Ramnath Goenka was the only paper that was anti establishment. Coming to the present, interestingly most of the newspapers and electronic media channels supported the campaign at Ramlila grounds while the IE was one of the few papers that presented a somewhat contrary point of view.
One slimy character in all these deals is ‘enlightened master’ Ravi Shankar. He has never, ever taken a strong stand, and always plays the part of the mediator. If Anna wins, he wins. If Congress succeeds, he still wins. This man is a very shrewd politician. He refused to stand up against the BSY mafia and their exploitation, because they had very good links with each other, allowing Ravi to get land around the ashram at cheap prices.
The Appalling Financial Transparency Standards of Anna affiliated NGOs
Now that NGOs have attempted to engineer a revolution in this country for better transparency and accountability in the system, let’s have an insight to what actual standards they follow themselves. All the main characters in the Anna Hazare manage multiple NGOs. We review the financial standards of NGOs run by Anna Hazare; Arvind Kejriwal & Manish Sisodia and Abhinandan Sekhri; Kiran Bedi and the father-son duo, Shanti & Prashant Bhushans.
Read more: http://exitopinionpollsindia.blogspot.com/2011/09/appalling-financial-transparency.html
as far as I think, Karthik wanted to say a stated pro-Anna stance is as good ( or as bad ) as a stated ( and frequently senseless) anti-BJP/ anti-RSS stance
Huh! For a change TOI is being blamed ? But is it because they stopped pumping up the image of the Clown Prince?
We even had this hallowed blog gloat over the prince’s jaunts to the rural areas.
As long as the newspapers carry the views of only the congress, its clown prince and his mother and his footlickers
As long as the television media gives primetime coverage only to the views of congress, its clown prince and his mother and his footlickers…
As long as internet blogs talk only about the views of congress, its clown prince and his mother and his footlickers…
They are impartial, seculars, people who have the larger picutre in heart etc and etc..
The moment the first family and their party is show in poor light, the loyal servants, whose very existence depends on the family and the party, would jump up and down, shouting all kinds of inanities.
This article is a prime example of this behaviour
I read the link, total misappropriation rs. 2,20,000/- from 1985 to 2011?? i.e 8,800/ per year or rs. 733 per year . you call this corruption??
I wish your clients were as corrupt as this.
My money is on Lavasa or Majithia wages report. Both of these hit the ToI where it hurts the most. So this could be a dress rehearsal to show the sarkari biggies in Delhi what could be in store when the elections come calling next time around. So expect a nice quid pro quo in the coming days after which ToI will go back to reporting where Rahul took the morning poop in a remote hamlet of UP.
I have been skeptical about the designs of Anna’s courtiers. Such skepticism gets buttressed further when the guy says “media weren’t just doing their job… they are now part of the movement”.
Is this what they want in their blueprint of an India of future? A partisan, unquestioning media? The big votaries of right to dissent don’t after all seem to like any dissent of the uncomfortable kind.
How about doing a comparative study of The Hindustan Times Coverage..Right from its Government Co-opted Political Editor – Vinod Sharma to ‘The Princess’.. The Hindustan Times it has backed the Congress Government to the hilt… No Surprises when the Paper is owned by the Congress Stooge the Birlas & a perennial Churumuri favourite ( read Sanjay Gandhi acolyte ) – Mr Khuswant Singh.
CAG has recently indicted Gujarat govt for loss of 26,000 crore. How come Times of India did not think it fit to report it but goes ballsitic when Delhi CM is indicted by CAG?
Arnab Shows and TOI headlines were totally out of place during Anna protest days, just few hundred protesting and TIMES group blinded their audience with ONLY PRO ANNA propaganda.
This is a very dangerous trend as such instances can happen in future as well.
Why did Anna team didn’t bring in NGOs under Lok Pal Bill ? b’cos the whole Anna team is NGO’s.
Anna recently said he sleeps in his village in a temple but if this is his way of life why didn’t he get admitted in govt. hospital. Why did he choose a 5 STAR Hospital ?
This shows Anna is a liar.