Monday, July 19, 2010

Tamil Newspapers and their news priorities

While I buy 'The Times of India' newspaper for national news, I buy a Tamil newspaper to get to know what is happening around me. The Tamil newspaper ' Daily Thanthi' costs more than the Times. However, it has less number of pages than the Times. The print quality is pretty good and a lot of colour is used. There are more advertisements than what Chennai edition of the Times manages to get. The most important thing to note is that Daily Thanthi is one of the highest circulated vernacular newspapers in the country. Now let us see what constitutes 'News' as far as this paper is concerned.

The front page news invariably is about the state of Tamilnadu. Right now, there is an investigation going on into the duplicate mark sheet scandal. On the 15th July, this was the main front page news. The only other news on the front page was the police firing in Andhra Pradesh and the consequent death of 4 agitating fishermen.The rest of the front page is dotted with colourful advertisements .

In the inner pages, considerable space was devoted on the above date to the following news items. 1. Life term punishment to the Bangalore woman who murdered her fiance with the help of her lover eight years ago. There is a large colour photo of the grim-looking woman published. 2.Arrest of the clever real estate owner who succeeded in selling Govt. lands to a Govt.-owned oil company. Photo of the clever man published. 3.Large photo of actor Sarath Kumar seeking the blessings of the chief minister of Tamilnadu on the former's birthday. In the photo, the actor is smiling broadly, his wife Radhika is smiling more broadly and the C.M. is almost laughing. 4.Half of page 5 is devoted to the speech given by the owner of the newspaper at the inaugural ceremony of a 3-star hotel at Tiruchendur in South Tamilnadu. 5.Suicide of a Kannada film actor after murdering his wife.Photo of the actor and his wife taken in better days published. 6.Arrest of more persons in the case involving corrupt chief engineer of Tamilnadu Electricity Board. (Photo, though not in colour, of the corrupt chief engineer and his corrupt deputy.) 6.Arrest of the married lover of a murdered woman on charges of homicide. (Photo of the married lover-boy turned murderer published).7. The editorial page has an editorial questioning the Govt.'s choice of the persons for Republic day awards. But three times the space given to the said editorial has been given to what the chief minister Mr.Karunanidhi has written in his party's newspaper 'Murasoli' attacking the opposition leader Ms.Jayalalitha in chaste Tamil.

If I have not listed any major national news ( not considering the judgement on Bangalore woman and the suicide of Kannada actor as neither national nor very major) among the seven items mentioned above, the fault is not mine. There is very little national news in this newspaper. There are three or four national news items ( BJP protest against Karnataka Governor, Manmohan Singh's speech on Naxalites etc.) but tucked in some corner of inner sheets. Of course, those readers hungry for national news can locate them with some effort. And some sports news, stock market news etc. too are found.

One should not forget that this newspaper has its fingers on the pulse of its readers who constitute a substantial percentage of the state's population. So, assuming that the paper gives what its readers want , people 's primary interest is what happens in the immediate surroundings of theirs. Say, within a radius of some 250 to 300kms from their home. This must be true about people in other states of the country as well; and about regional newspapers in other parts of the country too. Murders most foul, the police catching the murderers, the background of the murder, major thefts in the locality, film actors' real life affairs and other extra-curricular activities, Sex Sanyasis, their extra-religious but juicy escapades.......... these are what sustain people's interest and the readers get their 'paisa vasool' if the newspapers sprinkle such news liberally and make them well-spiced. Economy, GDP, Indo-Pak dialogue, Afghanistan, global warming, Maoists ....... these must be happening in another planet, a million kilometres away from where the readers live in flesh and blood. Are the English newspapers listening?


reshma M said...
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