The contribution of rural news is only 3.1 per cent of the total news coverage on Indian press, while it is 30.4 per cent for urban news. This was revealed in a content analysis on news coverage done by hoot.org, covering 10 dailies from across the country.
West Bengal topped among the states in publishing rural news. In the two lead newspapers of the state, Anandabazar Patrika (Bengali) and The Telegraph (English), the contribution of rural news was 11.5 per cent and 6.9 per cent, respectively. Interestingly, this happened because the newspapers covered the political violence in the state, which originated from the rural areas.
The study was carried out by hoot.org in association, with media and other information facilitator, Panos. The study was funded by a Dutch non-governmental organisation, Hivos (Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation).
Overall, politics contributed the maximum to the newspapers' content, followed by business and economy, which is quite obvious. However, the third most important category for newspapers was crime and violence, followed by governance.
The study further revealed the contribution of each category in detail.
For Hindi and regional language publications, politics emerged as the top content feeder.
Overall, political news cornered 15.4 per cent of the edit space. Around 20,797 news items were covered by the 10 newspapers during this research period (September to November, 2010).
News from political parties contributed the most - 38.9 per cent - of all political news. News on political personalities occupied another 26.1 per cent of the political edit space, while political news related to protests - verbal and physical clashes between political parties - took 11.9 per cent. News related to political corruption contributed only 6.9 per cent.
Of the 10 newspapers taken into consideration, Eenadu had the highest percentage of political news (22.9 per cent), followed by Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) with 19 per cent of news coverage dedicated to politics.
Among the English dailies, Hindustan Times gave the maximum weight to politics (15.5 per cent), followed by the South-based daily Deccan Chronicle (13.7 per cent). The Hindu, among the 10 dailies, had the least number of political stories during the period - political coverage in the daily was restricted to 10.4 per cent.
Economy and Business
Economy and business was the second most important genre in the newspapers, taking away 13.6 per cent of the edit space.
English newspapers gave more weight to business news than political news coverage vis-à-vis language dailies, except for Gujarat Samachar, which in fact scored over the English dailies.
Business and economy coverage occupied 21.1 per cent on Gujarat Samachar, followed by The Telegraph (19.7 per cent), The Hindu (18.5 per cent) and Eenadu (18.4 per cent). There was more news related to employment and labour in the regional dailies than in the English ones. In The Times of India (TOI), business news accounted for 14.7 per cent, while for HT, the figure was only 2 per cent. This could be attributed to the fact that HT has a separate business supplement - HT Business, which was not covered by the study.
Crime and violence
Crime and violence was the third biggest category in the Indian press. About 63 per cent of crime news was in the general category across dailies. However, this did not include crime terrorism or riots. The paper, which had the most crime-related news was the Tamil daily Dina Thanthi.
News related to governance - administration across government, educational institutions, and civil bodies and promotions, security issues and corporation news - as a category constituted 7.8 per cent of the news space. Dailies across Andhra Pradesh had the maximum number of governance related news pieces. It constituted 12.9 per cent of the news in Deccan Chronicle, and 15 per cent in Eenadu.
Education as a beat was given the maximum importance by Gujarat Samachar (5.9 per cent), followed by The Times of India, which dedicated 5.2 per cent of its edit space to this category. At 4.8 per cent, Eenadu was the third highest daily in terms of education-related coverage. It also had the maximum higher education related coverage across the 10 dailies - 56. 5 per cent - devoted to higher studies. Across all dailies, education as a category stood at 3.9 per cent of the news coverage.
Environment-related coverage in newspapers was almost the same across all dailies during the period. It stood at 3 per cent, with HT being the most sensitive towards the environment (4.6 per cent), followed by ABP at 4.1 per cent, whereas both Dina Thanthi and Gujarat Samachar were at the third spot in terms of environment related news coverage (3.6 per cent).
The study also looked at the origin and focus of news items to determine the nature of coverage and the level at which it originated. In terms of origin, the single highest category of news was that originating at the national level (27.7 per cent). The second highest category was city-based news at the state level (constituting 22.3 per cent), whereas 4 per cent of the news originated at the district level, and 3.2 per cent at the sub-district level.
Gujarat Samachar, The Times of India (Ahmedabad edition) and Dina Thanthi (or Daily Thanthi) were the newspapers in which news with a rural focus was negligible. "It must be said here that papers with daily district supplements could be putting their rural focus news there, so it did not figure in the main editions. That would apply to Eenadu," states the report.
Other important categories included legal - comprising 6.7 per cent of the total news coverage across the 10 dailies, social - comprising 6.6 per cent of the news coverage, and 4.9 per cent dedicated to international news coverage.
Science was the least explored category across the newspapers. About 1.1 per cent of the news space was dedicated to the category.
For the record, the study took into account the news coverage of 10 newspapers, representing the North, South, East and West of the country, for a period of two months (from September to November, 2010). The two most circulated newspapers (one in English and the other in Hindi) were chosen from five different states. The chosen dailies were Hindustan Times (Delhi), Dainik Jagran (Delhi), The Telegraph, Anandabazar Patrika, Deccan Chronicle, Dina Thanthi (or Daily Thanthi), The Hindu (Chennai), The Times of India (Ahmedabad) and Gujarat Samachar.