The Listening Post

Indian media: Choosing sides?

As the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls, we examine claims that news outlets are favouring Narendra Modi.

India is the world’s second most populous country and the biggest democracy. Parliamentary elections have just got underway and will last for weeks.

India’s media landscape is a vast and loud space with, by our count, no fewer than 87 news channels and myriad newspapers. Media analysts there have noted a shift in the tone of coverage in favour of the central challenger, Narendra Modi, a member of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).

His critics, many of whom support the ruling Congress Party, say that major news outlets have been treading lightly around the candidate, particularly on a story that goes all the way back to 2002 – when he was chief minister of his home state of Gujarat – where anti-Muslim riots claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Our News Divide this week examines the possible motives behind news outlets falling in line with the pro-Modi narrative and how that has played out in the coverage. In our discussion we speak to Sagarika Ghose, the deputy editor of CNN-IBN; Daya Thussu, the co-director of the India Media Centre at the University of Westminster; Madhu Kishwar, the author of Modinama; and Ravi Shankar Prasad, the BJP media coordinator, .

In our News Bytes this week: With TV stations being targeted and journalists threatened, the situation is turning nasty for the Ukrainian/Crimean media; another journalist has been murdered in the Philippines, allegedly for her work that focused on police corruption; and in Venezuela, a journalist has been kidnapped – but at this stage, there is no clear motive.

In this week’s Feature: The trial of South African Paralympic champion, Oscar Pistorius, began on March 3 and has – for the most part – been broadcast live. A landmark ruling in the country has allowed unmanned cameras to be fitted in the courtroom, giving viewers a window into South Africa’s legal system.

Pistorius’ defence has argued that the ruling will give the athlete – who has already undergone intense media scrutiny – an unfair trial. Justifying that ruling, the judge in the trial said that the world needed to see that South African courts treat the rich and famous the same as the poor and vulnerable.

However, with South African journalists scrambling to report every detail of this trial, sometimes to the detriment of other important stories, one can question if the same standards are being applied by the country’s media. The Listening Post’s Nicholas Muirhead reports on the trial and the coverage.

Finally, for viewers who are not familiar with the HBO TV series, Game of Thrones, our Web Video of the Week won’t make too much sense. The fourth series has just hit the airwaves and a Canadian based social-media management hub, HootSuite, saw it as an opportunity. It has turned the opening sequence of the show into a parody replacing the traditional warring noble families with 21st century tech giants battling for social supremacy. While there may be less bloodshed in the world of  A Game of Social Thrones, the fight for survival is just as real.


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