Myth versus fact: Southern coverage of Gujarat

IN Digital Media | 09/08/2002
' The standoff on Ayodhya (the VHP’s March 15 deadline, the Supreme Court

'  The standoff on Ayodhya (the VHP’s March 15 deadline, the Supreme Court  


'  Mr. Balayogi’s death in a helicopter crash


'  The daylight murder of SP MLA Manzoor Ahmad in Lucknow


'  The Supreme Court verdict in the Arundhati Roy case and her token imprisonment


'  The storming and ransacking of the Orissa State Assembly by VHP activists




The survey provided an opportunity to verify the truth about press coverage in the context of a number of allegations levelled against the so-called "national" (a.k.a. "Delhi-based") media in recent months. 


1.      Allegation: 




The "national" media did not pay due attention to the burning alive of passengers in a coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra on 27 February.








v     The event was reported  in lead stories with banner headlines at the top of Page 1, accompanied by colour photographs of the burning/burnt  compartment and/or charred bodies, in all the English and Kannada dailies included in the survey.




v     DH, NIE, TOI, KP, P, SK and VK published editorials strongly condemning the atrocity the very next day.  AA’s was the only edit appearing that day that did not categorically denounce the violence in Godhra (see below).  Among the English papers only H failed to carry an edit on the subject on the 28th.




v     Apart from the strongly worded front page headlines and stories, AA carried a bylined story on the 28th based on interviews with survivors from the Sabarmati Express atrocity, titled We were singing bhajans…suddenly we were attacked.








The effectiveness of communal propaganda is demonstrated by the fact that this allegation has stuck even though  press coverage of the violent attack on train passengers in Godhra was prominent, serious and critical.


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