Study raps ‘media trial’ of Sheena Bora case

Coverage by news channels was irresponsible;  Times Now topped the coverage by devoting 948 minutes, followed by CNN IBN at 424 minutes

New Delhi  : Media coverage of the Sheena Bora murder case reflects the “irresponsible and unethical” reporting behaviour of Indian TV news channels as it consumed one-third of the prime time coverage on six TV news channels, a study says.

Six TV channels, including two English news channels, featured 113 stories and 61 special programmes on the murder case in a fortnight, the study by CMS Media Lab found.

“The coverage reflected irresponsible and unethical reporting behaviour of Indian TV news channels. Most channels did not even follow the fundamentals of fact-driven reporting or coverage. The coverage had more elements of fiction than fact. It reminds us that even after seven years of irresponsible coverage of Aarushi murder case, the channels have hardly learnt anything from their mistakes,” it said. CMS Media Lab analysed coverage of six national TV news channels – Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, DD News, CNN IBN and Times Now – for a fortnight from August 25 to September 8, it said in a statement.

“The channels carried 113 stories and 61 special programmes on the Sheena Bora murder case. These six TV channels broadcasted 2,282 minutes (38 hours) of special programmes and stories during this period. Among the monitored news channels, two English News channels – Times Now and CNN IBN – together contributed 60 percent of the total coverage minutes. Interestingly, Times Now alone devoted 40 percent of the total coverage time.”

“Times Now topped the coverage by devoting 948 minutes, followed by CNN IBN at 424 minutes. Among Hindi News Channels, Aaj Tak led the coverage by devoting 341 minutes, closely followed by ABP News and Zee News with 268 minutes and 263 minutes of coverage respectively,” the statement said. It said DD News gave the least time to the case by allotting only 36 minutes during the entire study period.

The study found that “surprisingly, English news channels gave more coverage to the murder case compared to Hindi news channels,” which it said, “dispelled the myth that Hindi news channels are more sensational compared to English ones”.

The CMS Media Lab study said the news channels gave low priority to important issues like farmer suicides, floods and drought in different states during the same period, reports IANS.

“The editorial priorities of news channels show how they manufacture a crime story into a national concern, and it also highlights their level of seriousness towards mass reality”, it said. The murder of Sheena Bora, allegedly by her mother and prominent media personality Indrani Mukherjea, attracted a lot of media interest in India.

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