No religious divide: 46% Hindus & Muslims feel ‘Modi govt portrayed too favourably by news media’
A Report By Delhi-based Think Tank Lokniti-CSDS & Germany's Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Uses Data To Show How Different Communities Are Consuming News & How The Media Landscape Is Changing.
New Delhi: Both Hindus and Muslims perceive news coverage of PM Modi as biased and there is a stark gap in trust among supporters of opposition political parties on news outlets, said a report by Delhi-based think tank Lokniti-CSDS and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
“Both Hindus and Muslims who consume news through various media sources are equally likely to believe that the Modi government is portrayed too favourably by the news media (46%). Only around one in five news consumers said that the media in India gives balanced political coverage — neither is it too favourable towards the government/opposition nor is it too unfavourable,” stated the report.
Titled ‘Media in India: Access, Practices, Concerns and Effects’, the report used data to show how different communities are consuming news and how the media landscape is transforming.
According to the data shared in the report, “Muslim news consumers are less trusting of the news media (all types of it) than Hindu news consumers are, even though the order of trust among both the communities is the same. Both Hindus and Muslims are least trusting of online news websites. Their trust levels in private news channels and AIR news is quite low too.”
And when it comes to media coverage of PM Modi, both communities largely seem to be on the same page about the perceived media bias.
The extent of trust-deficit also depends on political leanings, stated the report which was released Thursday.
“Those leaning towards Congress and regional parties are less trusting of all types of media compared to those inclined towards the BJP. Congress supporters are, on average, the least trusting,” the report shared.
All Doordarshan news channels and media still remain the most-trusted.
The findings of the report are based on a sample survey of 7,463 Indian citizens aged 15 years and above, carried out in January this year across 19 states and union territories, excluding parts of the North-East and Kashmir.
Patterns of news consumption also differed among supporters of the ruling BJP and opposition parties. The report claimed that most readers of English newspapers supported the Congress, while consumers of Hindi news seemed to incline more towards the BJP.
“The proportion of individuals that mostly read the newspaper in English is around 3% only. However, among this tiny segment the Congress enjoys the most support. English newspaper readers were a tad more likely to support the Congress than the BJP. This is not the case among readers who read newspapers in other languages,” the study noted.
The respondents of the survey were, interestingly, quite divided on the “ethicality/morality” aspect of government surveillance of content on social media, revealed the report.
“45% of social media users believe there is nothing wrong with it (surveillance) and 40% believe it is wrong. Active users of Facebook and Whatsapp are the most likely to be concerned about their privacy being compromised while using the two platforms. Signal’s active users appear to be the least concerned about their privacy being compromised while using the app,” the report stated.
People have also bestowed trust on government services and websites for information, while Google and Yahoo also enjoy trust when it comes to privacy-related matters. Social media companies on the other hand are the “least trusted” for privacy issues.
“Social media companies are the least trusted. In fact, they are more likely to be not trusted (38%) than be trusted (37%). The perception that the government monitors people’s online and phone activities is strongest among active internet users of North West and North India. Many in South India gave a qualified answer that the government monitors only some people, not all,” said the report.
Navigating fake news
Social media, though the game changer in the media landscape because of access to information, has come with its own baggage, as it heavily depends on smartphone ownership.
Television, by-and-large remains the most popular medium for accessing news across the country, found the report.
The report also looks at the dissemination — knowingly and unknowingly — of fake news. Participants of the survey accepted that they received and forwarded news items and messages that may not have been entirely true.
“Nearly half of active internet users and social media and messenger platform users admitted to having been misled by fake news or information online at some point. Around two-fifths of active internet users and social media users admitted to have shared/forwarded misinformation at some point of time; i.e. they unknowingly and unintentionally shared/forwarded fake news and realised later that it was false. ,” the report read.
However, the admission also depended upon whether the consumer was at all aware of the fake news menace. The more educated respondents were “more likely” to admit to having been misled by fake news than the ones who weren’t, simply because they remained unaware of what they shared being fake.
The city-village divide
The report also highlighted how people in cities were more interested in national news than what is happening locally.
“News consumers in the cities stand out in their preference for nonlocal news. They are most likely to consume national news compared to news consumers in towns and villages. Those residing in villages are the least likely to take interest in national news; as urbanity increases, interest in national news also increases,” the report stated.
In north-west India, the survey found consumers prefer national news more than local news.
“The strongest preference for national news was found among news consumers of Delhi and Haryana. Rajasthan too leaned more towards national news. As far as state news is concerned, it was most strongly preferred in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh,” the report said.
In south India too consumers are inclined towards hyper-local and international news.