IN PHOTOS: Politicians who are media's DARLINGS
Gone are the days when political agenda or policy issues got the widest coverage in mainstream media. As an analysis by The Hoot points out, quality and quantity of political coverage are determined by degree of controversy surrounding a state or a leader in particular.
So how do national dailies prioritise political news? A comprehensive study conducted by The Hoot of four national dailies and one business daily from April- May 2012 found that political news' coverage constituted 17.6 percent of the total news items. The study took into account The Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, The Times of India and The Economic Times. Significantly, political personalities accounted for 30 per cent of the political stories.
We present the findings of The Hoot analysis which shows the political personalities who received maximum news coverage.
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1. Mamata Banerjee
In all mainstream dailies, Mamata Banerjee got the most coverage. "She was in the news for all the wrong reasons in the month of April. Out of the total stories (492 stories) from West Bengal, 16 per cent was on Mamata Banerjee (79 stories) to the exclusion of all other issues," the report stated.
"Censorship of newspapers to be read in public libraries created a public outrage against her and the coverage of Mamata Banerjee during this period considerably increased with every statement made by her making news. She was also in the news on May 13when she completed a year as the West Bengal chief minister. Hindustan Times carried a full page feature with interesting graphics and quotes that laid out her performance during the one year period as the CM and a UPA ally and all the controversies surrounding her.
"Moreover, the West Bengal state education board under Mamata's command tried to amend its educational syllabus. It was reported on 6th April that Marxist leaders would be taken out from the West Bengal Board history books. Not only was she under the media scrutiny for curbing freedom of expression but other incidents like four high profile rapes cases, her fear of Maoist controversy, 60 infant deaths in West Bengal hospitals, all the more added to the coverage of Mamata Banerjee," the report added.
Not only did coverage of the CM soar in the mainstream media, but as the papers reported, were strongly felt on social media platforms as well. She was trending on Twitter and her cartoon went viral on Facebook. She alone accounted for 33.7 per cent of the total political coverage.
Image: Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee addresses supporters during a rally in Kolkata
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
2. Narendra Modi
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was the second most-covered political personality with 14.5 per cent, the report stated.
"Not only was the SIT report that stated the non-involvement of Narendra Modi in Gujarat riots in news, a trivial issue like Modi's portrayal as Krishna that sparked a controversy also made news on April 7 which still simmered the next day," the report stated.
The reports also observed, "Newspapers are far more inclined to cover the leaders making news than the issue itself."
Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
3. Jaganmohan Reddy
Jaganmohan Reddy was the third most-covered political figure with 13.6 per cent of the total political stories, the report stated.
The CBI chargesheet against the YSR Congress chief's disproportionate assets generated more coverage than the upcoming by-election (June 12, 2012) in Andhra Pradesh.
The Indian Express on April 5 carried a report on the CBI chargesheet that detailed how companies and individuals benefited from the Andhra Pradesh government when his father, the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was the chief minister.
"It mentioned the three companies (The Hetero Group of Companies, Trident Life Sciences and Aurobindo Pharma) and the people who were allotted lands at low rates in exchange for investing in Jaganmohan Reddy's business (Jagati Publications in particular),"the report noted.
Image: YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy
4. Akhilesh Yadav
The newly appointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, was the fourth most-reported political personality with 7.69 per cent of the total political coverage.
More than half of the stories about Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati were inter-related.
For instance, The Hindu on May 11, carried a news story on Akhilesh Yadav scrapping 26 programmes and schemes named after dalit icons that will enable the government to save Rs.4,861.72 crore, the report stated.
Image: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters
After Mayawati's government was toppled, many of the pending construction projects under the Bahujan Samaj Party rule were being foiled by the present government.
"Mayawati's coverage therefore closely followed his at 6.8 per cent of total political stories. Much of her coverage dealt with the various populist schemes that she implemented during her tenure out of which many of them had not been completed," the report pointed out.
Image: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati
Photographs: Tanushree Punawani/Reuters
6. J Jayalalithaa
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa received 5.9 per cent of the total political coverage in that span of time, the report noted.
Image: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa
Photographs: Babu Babu/Reuters