ROLE OF INDIAN MEDIA IN CONFLICTING TIMES: AN ANALYSIS OF THE AUDIENCE RESPONSE AFFECTED BY THE PRINT AND BROADCAST COVERAGE OF THE 26/11 TERROR ACTS AND KARGIL WAR PROPAGANDA

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Much has been written or spoken about the Kargil War and the 26/11 attacks and more would be further articulated. During the time, the media worked fundamentally to quench the insatiable urge of the public craving news on these two major incidents. The 26/11/2008 terror attacks received unprecedented continuous live coverage on television. Similarly, the Kargil War became the first live war in South Asia that was given such an elaborate and detailed media coverage. However, the questions that could be raised here might focus on the sensitivity of Embedded Journalism; do the media enunciate War propaganda? This research paper forms a cohesive Sociological perspective on how Sensationalism and Hyperbole become proactive elements during Conflicting times as showcased by the Media in India.
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  • 1. [Type text] ROLE OF INDIAN MEDIA IN CONFLICTING TIMES: AN ANALYSIS OF THE AUDIENCE RESPONSE AFFECTED BY THE PRINT AND BROADCAST COVERAGE OF THE 26/11 TERROR ACTS AND KARGIL WAR PROPAGANDA by Swarnalata Bhattacharjee (Master of Mass Communication) A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Masters of Mass Communication Programme Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, PUNE SYMBIOSIS INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY 30-3-2015
  • 2. [Type text] Declaration by the Candidate I hereby declare that this dissertation entitled _____________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ___ Submitted to the Symbiosis International University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for award of degree of Master of Mass Communication (specialization :--------------------) is a original and genuine research work carried out by me under the guidance of_____________________________, Professor, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication and that it has not formed the basis for the award of any degree/diploma /associateship/fellowship or any other similar title to any candidate of any university.
  • 3. [Type text] TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 1 SUMMARY Page 2 PREFACE Page 3 ACKOWLEDGEMENTS Page 5 INTRODUCTION Page 13 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Page 22 LITERATURE REVIEW Page 22 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK Page 25 LITERATURE REVIEW Page 40 RESEARCH ANALYSIS AND DESIGN Page 55 CONCLUSION
  • 4. [Type text] Summary Much has been written or spoken about the Kargil War and the 26/11 attacks and more would be further articulated. During the time, the media worked fundamentally to quench the insatiable urge of the public craving news on these two major incidents. The 26/11/2008 terror attacks received unprecedented continuous live coverage on television. Similarly, the Kargil War became the first live war in South Asia that was given such an elaborate and detailed media coverage. However, the questions that could be raised here might focus on the sensitivity of Embedded Journalism; do the media enunciate War propaganda? This research paper forms a cohesive Sociological perspective on how Sensationalism and Hyperbole become proactive elements during Conflicting times as showcased by the Media in India.
  • 5. [Type text] PREFACE Reporting a war or Embedded Journalism comes under one of the toughest assignments as there are enormous difficulties, which involve mostly providing less bias information. The purpose of this dissertation is to question and argue whether Embedded Journalism in India needs to change its approach while being brought to the audience. Journalism does not necessarily involve higher TRPs and readership; there is far more to it than that. Two major instances have been taken from India’s defence scenario- The Kargil War fought in 1999 and the 26/11 Mumbai Terrorist attacks. The Kargil War lasted from 6th May-26th July,1999 and was significantly impactful for both the nations. Exploding at a time when the Electronic Media was booming in India, in-depth analysis and cohesive developments were reported often on the Kargil stories. The main stories showed straightforward patriotism that the media portrayed while reporting on the ‘enemy’ country. Furthermore, six years have gone by since the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks happened and the incident is as fresh as yesterday. Four days of constant shooting and the death of hundreds, after which Ajmal Kasab was nabbed by the Indian police forces. The television audience were provided with unprecedented live coverage of the attacks as they unfolded. But no lesson was learnt in this case.
  • 6. [Type text] The main questions were whether the Cameras and journalists too intrusive and insensitive in the face of such a human tragedy? Did the media ensure a tiff between ‘peace’ journalism and propagate fear and anxiety? A more significant question could be raised here about the media’s inadvertent resolution into War propaganda. A lot of questions and deliberations were put forward to principal sources such as Journalists, Defence Personnel and their families. A sociological perspective was necessary in this case as people had different viewpoints whether Embedded Journalism was with or without knowledge deteriorating in all contextual forms. A keen comparison has been made with the International media with the same events as they unfolded, and certain similar events with the same scenario, and whether their journalistic attributes of Embedded Reporting were any different.
  • 7. [Type text] Acknowledgements There are a number of people who I am eternally grateful to for helping me complete the research paper in the stipulated time. To Dr. Eshwar Anand, - my guide and mentor, Professor of Journalism, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune for his inexplicable guidance, overwhelming encouragement and bestowing confidence on what I had wanted to pursue for my research topic. To Ms.Ruchi Jaggi, Head of Department, Journalism, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune for her time and patience every time I faltered. To all the Journalists of the various media houses of Delhi for their strong reportage on understanding the detailed intricacies of Embedded Journalism and Conflict Reporting. To all the families of the Martyrs, who have laid down their lives for our country. Respect and salute always. To Ms. Anjali Srivastav and Ms. Ragini Iyer for their valuable time in understanding the brief that a student of Journalism has to go through. To my friends, Ms.Arunima Bannerjee and Ms.Ankita Saxena for their constant critical viewpoint regarding my research paper. It has made me work harder and compile the work on time.
  • 8. [Type text] To my mother, Mrs.Sunanda Bhattacharjee for her never-failing love and support. Her patience had no bounds each time there would be a pitfall. Thank you for never losing faith in me. And finally, to God, Shri Sai Baba, for his blessings and for constantly showing me light whenever there was darkness. ****
  • 9. [Type text] INTRODUCTION ‘The media is allergic to the uniform and resistant to “management”- Major General Arjun Ray VSM1 Indian Army. Shortly, after the Gaza-Israel conflict broke out in 2014, also known as Operation Protective Edge, many media channels and newspapers from across the world reported it. The war made headlines and for several days its details engaged viewers worldwide for days. India too reported it and called it as ‘another Kargil-war brewing template’. The War lasted for 1 month 8 weeks and 4 days. The media coverage for the war depended on the varied media sources, for instance, American news sources were more sympathetic to Israel whereas British news sources were more purported against Israel. Perhaps a much more similar incident could be related to with ease; as the Kargil War exploded in 1999, at a time when the Electronic media was booming in India, the audience was exposed to live, unprecedented coverage of the war. Embedded Journalists like Barkha Dutt who had become a familiar face during the War, made us watch the life of soldiers on the border, behind a series of bombings and shooting that ensued between the neighbouring nations. Kargil War soon became the first South Asian War to be ever telecasted live on television. But soon it was no longer hardcore reporting as all forms of crucial journalism seem to have been lost; a new sense of patriotism prevailed filled with dots and blots of Patriotism.
  • 10. [Type text] According to the research article Journalism Caught in Narrow Nationalism by Dr.Dwaipayan Bose, the author expresses an overt bias that exists between the Indian and Pakistani media. The author enunciates on the statement on how two landmark incidents (Kargil War and 26/11 attacks) in India-Pakistan relations illustrate how nationalist and jingoistic the media can get when reporting on an enemy country. The author provides striking instances of the media from both the nations where patriotism ushers in before actually reporting. Examples of Indian Media like the Telegraph, Times of India, India Today etc have been exposed highlighting the nationalist strata of reporting. The Pakistan Media had also joined the ‘war of words’ with the India Journalists, provoking sentiments and refreshing old wounds. ‘Nowhere does the weight of history so dominate over journalism and its practitioners than when it comes to India and Pakistan reporting on each other’, the author quotes. But has the lesson been learnt? 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks are perhaps the most hard-hitting terrorist activities ever that crippled India. The attacks that involved bombings, hostage crisis and siege went on for 4 days (26/11/2008-29/11/2008), as people sat glued to their television sources watching as the events unfolded. The paper All for brownie points: reappraising the new commercial media and media– terrorism nexus in the context of the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 by Antara Mitra talks about investigative journalism has been deficient as it
  • 11. [Type text] has been continuously taken strides towards infotainment journalism; in other words how journalism has become commercialised and focuses only on raising the TRPs of their channel. Quite shocking? A major lesson coming out of the 26/11 attacks were related to the media coverage of the incident. The visual media had become competitive and broadcasted minute details to the audience. It hadn’t come to their realisation that Pakistani terrorist handlers were taking help of the Indian media, and had created situational awareness of their compatriots in Mumbai; a solidified move that faced the brunt of humongous criticism from analysts and critics. An important argument could be raised her that might focus on the issue of sensitivity of Embedded Journalism in particular that although the gruesome images which were showcased on TV were intriguing and provided first-hand information to the global audience yet were the Cameras and journalists too intrusive and insensitive in the face of such a human tragedy? Was there too much involvement of Hyperbole and Editorialising of content in order to rake up viewership? The exposure to Mumbai terrorist attacks was as volatile a spread as different news channels tried to bring their different news angles to their story. All very journalistic, yes, but in our attempt to showcase the gripping truth has Embedded Journalism ensued a tiff between ‘peace journalism’ and propagate fear and anxiety...
  • 12. [Type text] A sociological perspective analysing the behaviouristic pattern of civilians and families of defence personnel have been added in this dissertation to highlight the propagation of mass hysteria through gruesome images. To bring out this argument forcibly, the research paper All for brownie points: reappraising the new commercial media and media– terrorism nexus in the context of the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 by Antara Mitra has been referred again. The paper elaborates that the Supreme Court of India had slammed the electronic media for its live coverage of the 26/11 terrorist attacks. The Apex Court said that by doing so the TV channels did not serve any national interest or any fundamental social cause. To see if the media entails War propaganda has also been explored through the dissertation. According to Media and Terrorism by CA Damm, ‘Terrorists are dependent on the publicity they receive, and the media acquire from the terrorist their staple in news reporting: an event newsworthy, unexpected, and violent, which the public is drawn to hear, see, and read about.’ There is substantial evidence that terrorists orchestrate dramatic incidents to maximize their propaganda impact; the propaganda of invoking mass hysteria. The media falls prey to its events always which results in amalgamation of deviation from investigative journalism, that gets dragged to a different tangent of radical news articles and expression of thoughts.
  • 13. [Type text] Anything more radical than voluntary self-restraint in reporting terrorist activity would be a threat to the democratic principles of freedom of the press and speech. The media's awareness of the efforts of terrorists to manipulate them for terrorist purposes should put the media on guard against becoming a propaganda arm for terrorism. Furthermore, the a significant focus is constructed on war propaganda and to further reiterate one of the arguments if media focuses on war propaganda. Questioning the fact whether reporting about terrorist activity would be a threat to the democratic principles of freedom of the press and speech would also be dealt to justify the standpoint.
  • 14. [Type text] Theoretical Framework War will never be the same for us Indians again. Much has been written or shown about the War and further more would be articulated. It started rather cautiously with bombardments and soldiers marching with Bofor Guns. But soon the momentum of the media took over; Reporters rubbing shoulders with the soldiers and climbing up to the mountain side, thus, they became surrogate heroes themselves. Embedded Reporting took a backseat. The country too was sensitised by these images. It was the first South Asian War that was brought live to the televisions at home and was given a human face. But what was completely forgotten during this time was the sanctity of War and Journalism; endless pictures of widows, bereaved bodies of soldiers not only rekindled patriotism in the most cynical viewers but also re-established a sense of hatred towards the ‘enemy-country’. Through the concept of theoretical framework arguments would be proved with sufficient evidence both theoretically and concurrently from the media. The first theory to be proved in this context is Media promotes War Propaganda. Propaganda refers to the no-holds-barred-expectations to propagate specific beliefs and expectations. The most important goal of propaganda is to change the way people act and then let them believe that their kind of behaviour and perspective towards different spheres underlying them are their own.
  • 15. [Type text] Propaganda theorists have analyzed media content and speculated about its influence. The television broadcast of the Kargil War and the way it was depicted showed that the media had in its nature a requiem of potent jingoism and nationalism that it wanted to spread. Pakistan was regarded as the ‘enemy-state’ not only in India but throughout the world. Hence, it could be safely said that India had won the Kargil War, partly owing to the media propaganda of depicting Pakistan as the ‘bad’ nation. In this context, the filters described by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman developed 4 filters through which they believe that propaganda passes can be used to substantiate the point such as Ownership, Advertising, Flak and Source. According to Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, ‘Propaganda refers to particular doctrines or principles deliberately spread widely by an organization or a movement. They believed that any form of propaganda had highly coherent characteristics that meant using absolute covert means to spread the message fundamentally, choreographing the methods of communication etc. In their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media, written in 1988, they say “the private media business is the sale of readers and audiences to other businesses (Advertisers) and not the sale of quality news to the public.” Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman put forward the following five filters as part of this theory: Ownership, Advertising, Source, Flak and Anti Communism. An excellent example of the use of propaganda is the United
  • 16. [Type text] States war against Iraq, which has been examined below in the context of the five filters of the propaganda model. Ownership: According to the theory many media houses set up connections with the government and they are only allowed to broadcast what the government wants them to do. The media worked overtime to quench the insatiable public craving for news on Kargil. During the 1990 Indo-Pak War, according to senior journalist VC Natrajan "the press had access to forward areas when the war broke out. Neither the top brass of the armed forces nor the bureaucracy made any effort to hinder the media from reporting what was happening on the battlefront." Since that war, there have been immense progressive changes in the kind of TV coverage that was made available to the common man in India. It was due to a proliferate cable TV regime and immense changes in the Information Technology sectors. It was as if the Government wanted the war to be telecast in the social milieu and invoke feelings of patriotism among its people. Similarly, the same example could be adhered to the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. The TV news channels were right at the spot, reporting every minute detail to its audience, harnessing extravagant information to its viewers. India Tv’s Rajat Sharma had exponentially arranged an interview with the terrorists asking questions such as ‘How are you today’. It would be quite seamless to say, nevertheless, that there could be providential government links with the TV News Channels.
  • 17. [Type text] Advertising: According to the theory, “in order to maintain their cost of production, without increasing the price of their newspaper, media houses are heavily dependent on advertisers. Therefore, stories that conflict with the consumer’s ‘buying mood’ or the mood the advertiser wants to set will not be run.” Advertising in this case did not happen as the Indian government did not permit it. However, films were made both about the Kargil War and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, desensitizing the issue as a mere labyrinth of songs and dances. The films were made to honour the martyrs who had laid their lives down for their country, but a behaviour analysis and a sociological perspective later, the families of the defence personnel who had fought for their country, were indeed a sensitive issue. However, in this scenario it could be said that the Advertising filter would not regenerate any kind of propagandist agenda. Source: According to the theory. “The media is dependent on their sources for a steady supply of fresh news. As a result, their execution of their duties may be biased for fear of jeopardizing a valued relationship. In the context of the Kargil War and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India was largely nationalistic while promoting its entire message. Although it is quite applicable for the 26/11 attacks but the War was disintegrated into a nationalistic approach.
  • 18. [Type text] Every news show spoke about how the War became Pakistan’s betrayal of trust. Even War correspondents reporting from the location, would exhibit physical dangers, and suddenly Embedded Journalists became War Reporters rather than the real soldiers. The news channels and newspapers, in perfect accordance with the government had exhibited jingoistic vices and invoke the aspects of infotainment journalism. For instance, initially quite hesitant of the television crews and journalists, the army slowly engaged themselves and took the media’s role as force multiplier quite literally. The defense personnel got so carried away with the media’s questions and the live coverage of war that they gave them access to all information that they could find. There were slip-ups for which the Indian Army had to pay such as the blazing lights of the photographer outside the Brigade Headquarters drew attention of the enemy at Drass. This led to heavy shelling in which four soldiers were killed and the correspondent of a national daily was injured. Flak: According to the theory, this refers to “the negative las
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