By Dilip Mandal
As expected, large sections of the media, especially the Hindu (sorry, Hindi) newspapers have adopted the policy of turning a blind eye towards the 'Save the Constitution' rally led by Dr.Udit Raj held on 24th, August in Delhi. A few newspapers seemed to be merely going through the ritual of reporting it.
For the English language media, this rally became news only because 'traffic was hit'. Look at what the media has done to this piece of news! As they say, the media never lets go of any opportunity to show its true caste.
(This report had to be written in some haste: please suggest any modifications/revisions, if needed. This analysis examines the content of the Delhi editions of all major newspapers dated 25 August, 2011).
Amar Ujala: No news report, no pictures.
Dainik Bhaskar: No news report, no pictures.
Jansatta: No news report, no pictures.
Navbharat Times: A 1 1/2 inch, two column report, no pictures.
Hindustan: 1 1/2 inch/3 column report, with headline that says-- Save Constitution rally stops flow of traffic. A 4 coulmn picture with a caption about the traffic jam.
Nai Dunia: 3 inches, 1 column, with headline that says, curtly-- Dalit organisations take out rally.
Rashtriya Sahara: A 3 1/2 inch, 3 column report. With headline that says- Save Constitution rally against Anna; one column picture.
Dainik Jagaran: Local page, a 1 inch, 1 column report. With headline that says- Rally taken out to express opposition; no pictures.
English language newspapers
Times of India: Page 5/Single column, Headline- 'Dalits rally against Anna at India Gate, traffic hit?', Photo- Nil
Hindustan Times: Page-3/ 2 column, Headline- 'Rallies, rain lead to snarls, commuters bear the brunt', Photo- Traffic jam in CP
The Hindu: Page 3/ 3 column, 'Anti-Anna rally jams traffic', Pix of Jam, India Gate.
Apart from the traffic jam, The Hindu, Hindustan Times and the Indian Express also covered the rally. Among the Hindu (sorry, Hindi) newspapers, one notices a clear lack of efforts to cover the rally, even for the sake of appearing 'balanced'.
Along with this analysis, it is very necessary to read the CSDS survery report about the social composition of the Indian news room:
According to a survey conducted across the newsrooms of top newspapers and television news networks by Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), it's the upper caste that makes the key editorial decisions for the rest of the country.
The survey covered over 300 top editors working in 40 television and print news networks, and profiled them in terms of age, religion, caste/community and gender.
It reveals that Hindu upper caste men, who constitute just eight per cent of the total population of India, hold over 70 per cent of the key posts across newsrooms in the country.
The so-called twice born Hindu castes dominate 85 per cent key posts despite constituting just 16 per cent of the total population, while the intermediary castes a represent meagre three per cent.
The Hindu Other Backward Class groups, who are 34 per cent of the total population, have a share of just four per cent in the Indian newsrooms.
Muslims, who constitute about 13 per cent of the population, control just four per cent top posts while Christians and Sikhs have a slightly better representation.
But the worst scenario emerges in the case of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Despite constituting around 24 per cent of the total population, their representation in key decision making across the news spectrum amounts to zilch.
That means there is not a single SC or ST person taking a call on editorial policies in country's news arena.
Dilip Mandal is a journalist and author.
Image: Cartoon by Unnamati Syama Sundar.