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What was India thinking of on the 29th of October 2007?

October 30, 2007

Here are some screen shots of the front pages of daily newspapers in India as well as some from the US and the UK. Most of these are print editions although there usually isn’t too wide a difference between the content of an online newspaper and it’s print version.

In my post on the defense of the Indian Media I had mentioned that it is the rapacious capacity of people to devour sensational news that is driving the press today. A race is on not just between the dailies but also the television channels to feed the reader what he/she ‘needs’. Murder, celebrity gossip, scandal, sensational revelations and family dramas. And oh yes success stories of Indian Americans. While I too am curious about these successes, what’s objectionable is that these stories make it to the front pages of newspapers. You can read this interesting article about how the Indian media went overboard with the news of four Indian American achievers and there is also Shashi Tharoor’s analysis of why we shouldn’t think of Bobby Jindal as ‘Indian.’

I don’t want to make judgments here…I don’t want to make statements like the media is being irresponsible or that readers are immature. I do not want to judge the media because I believe that publications ultimately get what they deserve, and in this case it is decreasing respect. It takes years to build up a good reputation but much less time to destroy it. A time will surely come when they start to lose business in a big way. There was a newspaper I had grown up with, one which I used to respect a lot, but today I have scant regard for it. Sure, those days the news was dull and often blatantly censored, but I preferred that to what I read today.

I will not judge the reader either because he/she has a right to seek what he wants. But during our time if we wanted to know about which film star was going out with whom we read Stardust…today you might be able to get such news on the front pages of mainstream newspapers, complete with photographs! Today it is the serious readers who are stumped for choice. When they want some light stuff they can pick up the Mirror or the Midday but what are they supposed to do when they want sober news? Go straight to the middle page or the business section?

Watching television news can be more painful if one wants serious news. One has to wait for the ‘right’ news to appear and most of the time he/she has to suffer the endless trivia and advertisements. At least in a newspaper or magazine ads can be ignored.
So here are the images…they speak for themselves. All of them screen shots taken yesterday…29th october 2007.

The headline of DNA is the same as that of the tabloid Mumbai Mirror.

This is the print edition of the HT which talks of a rally in Delhi but I was not impressed that Shilpa Shetty was given the front page. Also the headline that in 1999 “Pak planned to nuke India” is sensationalism. This news has been reported before (threats from Mush and Pakistani officials) – I clearly remember reading it some years ago. Sure, now it’s been confirmed with someone writing a book on it, but I don’t see why this news should be so loud. What is the newspaper trying to do? Create paranoia about Pakistan?

Today the Times wasn’t so bad, but usually it is. But their blatant self-promotion goes on as it evident with the headline “ET toasts the cream of Corporate India.’ But note, the family drama of a brother shooting a sister is there on the front page.

Midday being a tabloid will report on a murder trial. But at least the murder trial is about the shooting of a major political personality in Maharashtra. Suitable material for the front page of a tabloid.

The following except is from The Hindu Online, and I felt that it was the most balanced and the least sensational of all the English dailies. Well, yesterday at least.

Now let’s take a peek at yesterday’s top American and English news media.

So which is better? You choose.

Related Reading: India was worrying about Kashmir on 25th of August 2008 (post with front pages of English newspapers from all over the country)
What was India thinking of on 16th of April 2008 (screen shots of the front pages of some English newspapers)
An example of pathbreaking media
What India was thinking of on 17th april 2008 (brief overview of the front pages of national newspapers)
Is Print readership falling in India?
An example of how political parties gag the media
Fake stings and fraudulent journalism
The media dishes out what the public wants

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2007 8:22 am


    Why only Bobby Jindal? If you remember, the Indian media went overboard even when Jhumpa Lahiri won a Pulitzer for the Interpreter of Maladies, when Kiran Desai (who has never lived in India) won the Pulitzer for “Inheritance of Loss”, when Salman Rushdie won the Booker of Booker Prizes for “Midnight’s Children”, and last but not the least, Kalpana Chawla. 🙂 Just because someone is of Indian race doesn’t mean that the media should go to such an extent. I wish they would focus more on people who live in India and contribute no less towards the success of our country and cut us some slack.
    I almost forgot about LK Mittal and his famous steel company, Arcelor Mittal.
    Indians love melodrama in every single art- movies, music, soap operas (thank you Ekta Kapoor) and now even newspapers.

  2. October 30, 2007 10:17 am

    you have brought up a subject which is bothering me a lot these days, and thats television news, I generally preferred them to print media becuase of the lack of time, and speed at which the headlights can be seen. and now most of the headlights on any leading channel is either about celebrity love affairs, or Cricket conraversies or political scandals.
    Sex is another thing which even news channels are banking on.
    I remember the fruitful discussions on we the people some time back, I am sick of the items that come on news now a days.
    Or may be I am too old fashioned to appreciate the “In news” items in todays India

  3. October 30, 2007 12:39 pm


    Interesting piece although in the absence of clear comparable entities, it is hard to compare, and harder to choose “which is better”, isn’t it?

    I think it is down to individual markets in media consumption, how they are segmented and which paper serves which segment’s needs.

    For instance, in the UK, there is a clear divide between tabloids and broad sheets. When the latter do discuss celebrity tittle-tattle, their celebrities are different (e.g. Shakespearean thesps) and their topics are different (e.g. discussion of art house cinema and not a glamour model’s body). The tabloids have daily front page news which is not dissimilar to a masthead discussing Kareena and Saif (as far as I can see in your screen shot).

    Further our broadsheets are separated along political lines. The Telegraph, whose shot you include, is a Tory paper, so their front page rarely discusses welfare but it does discuss excessive taxation, curbs on civil liberties etc. You may want to compare with the Guardian (readers of which are called the Guardianistas!) which is a liberal daily. The Times, owned by Murdoch, is apparently the largest read paper and they often have views from more than one political angle but by the name of the columnist you can pretty much predict what they will write.

    There are several small regional rags, which discuss issues such as a cat was run over. Hardly of interest to someone who lives 500 miles away from the location of such hit and run.

    There is also a number of free rags given out in the underground (they amount to about 4 Tonnes of paper waste in London alone) which have 3 topics – celebrity gossip, film/ TV/ music, sports. As far as I can tell, people read them for 5-7 minutes and either leave them in the train (very irresponsible) or throw them in the bins.

    Then there are on-line sources of which BBC is the most popular – however from your screen shot, it seems you have the “international” version. The UK version – which you can switch to using a little button on the top – is full of domestic politics issues – this morning about rubbish charging, immigration, Scotland and so on.

    Nearly all educated people I know in the UK read at least 2 politically opposed newspapers and nearly all business people read the FT. Many immigrants – and I imagine some natives – also read the NY Times and the Washington Post on-line.

    So as far as choosing is concerned, I think it is rarely made on the basis of the front page. Usually people have favourites already based on their politics. The media mix, so to speak, of a consumer’s preferences may also vary widely even day to day.

    Much as I find myself starving for news on my trips to India, if I have a reliable web connection (very much an “if” too), I do not mind. I also notice that international news appears to have a minor place in India’s newspapers, which is astonishingly similar to many American newspapers’ approach to news.

    BTW one can see why Hindu and Dainik Bhaskar remain steadily reliable amid the crowd.

    All in all – I think this state of the media may be shaping the politics of India in many ways. Rural areas for instance may be relying on printed newspapers, but if they are not substantive, I would argue that they are doing a disservice to the readers, and effectively dis-enfranchising them through lack of material information. In a democracy, _that_ is a frightening prospect.

  4. Bharath permalink
    October 30, 2007 3:42 pm

    Future interactive newspaper on cellphone – Venetian screen

  5. Jackie permalink
    October 30, 2007 5:37 pm

    Dear Nita,
    I pretty much echo what Shefaly said.
    One must find trusted sources, and refer to them. Newspapers (and TV) are a _businesss_.
    We are the enemy, because many of us consume these rags.
    In USA, look at Fox News, now a parody of right wing causes.
    Excepting for local newspapers with very local stories I need to know about, I skip TV and newspapers for the most part.
    We have National Public Radio, BBC, and weekly news magazines that give stories more in-depth review,
    I have ranted in the past about the demise of journalism, as I learnt it….you cannot consider many these days to be journalists —- we call them pundits and op-ed columnists.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking blog.

  6. October 30, 2007 5:39 pm

    Thanks to all who have commented.
    Ruhi, I had forgotton about those prize winners too. Why we just love to talk about their origin here!!

    Rambler, I don’t think its oldfashioned at all. It’s really a very personal choice I think!

    And Shefaly you have taken my rhetorical in-your-face line at the end of the post with all seriousness! 🙂 Ofcourse there cannot be a serious attempt to choose. My posts are simply made to make the reader think…no more. and yes I am aware that it was the international version of bbc I chose. Just to give a more broad based look. As I said, it is not a serious analytical attempt.


    I wrote the above and read your comment Jackie. Thanks. I hope that journalism in it’s true sense does revive though…like you said it does exist, in pockets. But doesn’t make money!

  7. Shefaly permalink
    October 30, 2007 5:59 pm

    Taking-at-face-value-in-all-seriousness-are-us, Nita 🙂

  8. October 30, 2007 6:21 pm

    Interesting post, Nita!
    (I am not giving you any more than that, just to be different!)

    Thanks Rambodoc. – Nita.

  9. prax permalink
    October 30, 2007 11:31 pm

    doesnt the hindu also sensationalise all things china and politbureau?

  10. October 30, 2007 11:37 pm

    Yes it does Prax. I think it all depended on that particular day…29th Oct…that was then Hindu turned out to be best. Hey, you seem to keep late nights! My eyes are barely open…good night! – Nita.

  11. wishtobeanon... permalink
    October 31, 2007 6:54 pm

    Among Indian newspapers, I feel The Hindu excels though sometimes I wonder why they have editorials talking about issues in foreign countries. Times of India seems like pure tabloid. I would like to see Indian newspapers devoting more space to issues related directly to the commoners and bringing news from every corner of India.
    Nice post once again!

  12. wishtobeanon... permalink
    October 31, 2007 7:02 pm

    Also, I wish none of the newspapers would publish gruesome or violent images as I think it desensitizes the public towards violence.

  13. October 31, 2007 8:59 pm

    Thanks wishtobeanon,
    I guess the mainstream newspapers need to have the right balance of domestic and international issues. right now to them domestic issues are family dramas! Right now the tv channels are obsessed with the family feud between aamir khan and his brother! And many times international news means shilpa shetty! 🙂

  14. Tabrez Bolar permalink
    June 9, 2008 9:54 pm

    I think this just shows that there’s a big gap for serious news that can be filled. I’m not very sure but I think there was a Sunday Observer or something that my dad used to buy when I was kid.

    While on a daily basis, the reader would like sensationalism, I’m sure there’s a big chunk that would love to have dull and drab, yet real news to catch up on a weekly basis, even if it costs 4 times the normal rate.

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