India more 'lenient' towards coverage on economic slowdown: study

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | June 24, 2009
According to a study by The Nielsen Company, India figures ninth on the list of countries which disagree with the view that news media did not do a good job of informing them of issues that led to the economic downturn in India

As the world places blame on the media for keeping people away from the severity of the economic crisis, about a third of the Indian respondents surveyed in the recent 52 nation online survey conducted by The Nielsen Company do not rest all blame on the media. India figures ninth on the list of countries who disagree with the view that the news media did not do a good job of informing them of issues that led to the economic downturn in India.

The general consensus among consumers across most of the world is that the media did a so-called 'poor' job informing the public about the issues leading up to the current financial crisis. In India, too, 45 per cent of the respondents agreed that media coverage was inadequate but the number of people who disagree is also quite large.

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The two regions where consumers were most dissatisfied were Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, these were the areas hit the most by the current economic crisis. On the other hand, consumers in many Asia Pacific nations, where the impact on the economy hasn't been as harsh, were generally less critical of the media.

"In the recent Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence study, India ranked third on confidence levels," says Vatsala Pant, associate director, consumer research, The Nielsen Company, India, in an official communiqué. She adds that the comparatively high level of confidence that Indians have in their economy may be a reason why Indians have shown more mercy than the rest of the world towards media coverage during the downturn. Also, the fact that India didn't face a full blown downturn helped the media to save itself from consumers' ire.

Not only do fewer Indians blame the media for its coverage of the downturn, but with 70 per cent votes, India is ranked third in the list of countries which think that the current media is doing a good job in helping them understand the issues affecting the global economy. Indian respondents also agree that the media is helping them to better understand what the governments are doing to solve the economic problems at hand (61 per cent - sixth highest globally).

Attitudes about early media coverage were most positive in the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, Venezuela and India, all of which scored above the global average.

Factors that drove the failure to communicate were varied.

Some critics have argued that the financial media was too close to those it covered. Moreover, the speed of negative events following the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy filing caught not only journalists, but also economists and government officials, by surprise.

Globally, many of the 25,000-plus consumers polled believe that the media performance has improved over time. In much of the Asia Pacific region, the public thought that the media was doing a good job in providing information about what the issues are and what governments are doing to address them.

About 57 per cent of the Indian respondents think that the amount of current news coverage of the global financial crisis is just about right for them, 23 per cent think it's not enough for them, and 20 per cent think that there is too much coverage.