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Narendra Modi’s SRCC speech: Why some editors chose to skip it

by Anant Rangaswami  Feb 7, 2013 16:44 IST

#MediaCrit   #Narendra Modi   #Newspapers   #speech   #SRCC  

Narendra Modi’s keynote at Shree Ram College of Commerce yesterday was carried live, in its entirety, by most news channels. That’s the story of news television; the medium will always focus on the most notable live story.

With newspapers, which in their physical form, have a once a day refresh, there is no such compunction. They have the luxury to look at a bank of stories which they analyse and arrive at the list of front page stories and the relative weightage given to each story.

How do newspapers view Narendra Modi’s speech? How important was it to them?

This morning, barring a few newspapers, it was the lead story on the front page.

Not worthy of page 1 everywhere. PTI

Not worthy of page 1 everywhere. PTI

There were some notable exceptions. The Hindu, for example, didn’t mention Modi on the front page. If you wondered why, as CNN-IBN editor did, this is what The Hindu’s editor Siddharth Vardarajan (@svaradarajan) said in response on twitter “We refuse to be part of the herd. Every story on our p1 was far more newsworthy than a speech by a CM to a Delhi college.”

Which were the front page stories that The Hindu felt were more important than Modi’s speech? The lead story was Chidambaram’s comment on the army and AFSPA, the second was a story on the Sebi-Sahara imbroglio and the third focused on the violence in a dalit hostel in Patna which was ignored by Patna University officials.

Mid-Day was another paper which ignored Modi. Not just on the front page, but completely. “Publishing a Narendra Modi news item - especially Wednesday's speech in New Delhi - on Page 1 is based upon two assumptions: one, that Mr Modi will be the Prime Ministerial candidate for the NDA; and two, that he will indeed become PM after the next general election. Both are, well, assumptions,” Sachin Kalbag, editor, Mid-Day, said to Firstpost.

“We did not have Mr Modi on Page 1 because chief ministers make speeches all the time. It is part of their job. I don't remember taking a Maharashtra CM's speech ever on our Page 1, even though we are a city newspaper and our state CM's speech may be considered far more relevant to our readers. For that matter, we rarely take a CM's speech even on the inside pages. Our news approach to speeches is that unless there is a policy announcement in them that affects lakhs of our readers, or they represent landmark events, we don't analyse them. This is true for the PM, the state CM, Mr Modi, or anybody else,” Kalbag added.

So Varadarajan might have carried it on the front page – if there were no more newsworthy stories. Kalbag would not have in any circumstances.

So how did the other newspapers see it? Take a look. The surprise is Times of India, especially the Ahmedabad edition.