A six-month study of India-China coverage in the top-two English newspapers in New Delhi shows that between 50 and 60 per cent of the stories are of adversarial nature, “establishing a pattern of clear negative China coverage”.
The Delhi editions of The Times of India and the Hindustan Times, both of which have correspondents based in Beijing, were surveyed by Debasish Roy Choudhury, who works for the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
“Though a substantial part of their coverage is also neutral, even peaceable, the numerically dominant frames are clearly antagonistic. These frames identify China as an aggressive power… and convey remedies such as arming, border build-up and alliances with other powers. The adversarial frame is propagated through other kinds of stories as well where the general tone is conflictual….
“A closer look at how China is portrayed in top English-language papers can broadly be taken as a proxy for how it is generally portrayed in Indian newspapers….
“English-language dailies do not all follow a consistent line or pattern of coverage on any subject. For example, The Hindu, a hugely respected and highly circulated paper in southern India with an edition in Delhi, and The Telegraph, a comparatively smaller paper but the market leader in eastern India, are noticeably conciliatory and balanced in overall tone towards China, and differ substantially from the China coverage of, say, the Times of India. “
In a story in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, where he works as a business news editor, Roy Chowdhury quotes the veteran jurist A.G. Noorani.
“Shrill, jingoistic and embarrassing,” is how A.G. Noorani describes Indian media’s China reportage. “Every now and then the media breaks into a patriotic frenzy over anonymously sourced reports of border violations without bothering to explain the intricacies of our tangled frontiers.”
Infographics: courtesy Debasish Roy Choudhury
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If the home news (Indian news) coverage is similarly analysed, 50-60 percentage of the stories of TOI & HT would be ‘adversarial’. The ‘finding’ of the writer that The Hindu’s coverage of China is balanced reveals his ideology.