Coverage of Terrorism in Indian Media: An Analysis of Indian Print Media Coverage of 26/11 and the 2006 Train Blasts

Nidhi Ranjalkar
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Abstract

There has been persistent debate among scholars regarding the relationship between terrorism and media over a long period. The present research was undertaken to understand how different English-language newspapers in India cover terrorism news, particularly the 2006 train blasts and the 2008 Mumbai attacks (known as the 26/11 attacks). The literature around this topic presented a substantial body of work done by foreign scholars using foreign print media. There was a dearth of analysis of the coverage surrounding the two attacks by Indian scholars using Indian print media. Therefore, the texts chosen for this study are from three widely-read Indian newspapers — The Times of India, The Hindu, and The Indian Express. These newspapers were chosen for their potentiality of high impact due to their popularity among the Indian English-speaking public. This research hopes to explore the difference of news coverage through a textual analysis of articles chosen from the online archives of the three newspapers. In doing so, it hopes to understand the nature of the coverage of terrorism in Indian print media. This study is important because it provides an insight into how Indian media operate in a politically charged and sensitive environment such as the one in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The findings demonstrate that there are two ways that the news media function during such a time. Firstly, as an aid to the government and a soft power tool in maintaining peace and national security. Secondly, as a medium that could lead to further perpetuation of fear through the use of certain dramatic imagery and hyperbolic language, hence also unintentionally contributing to the terrorists’ agenda. The study maintains that while there are key differences between the reportage of the three newspapers such as language and style, the key similarity between the three is that they all follow an identifiable pattern of an increased number of hard news stories in the immediate aftermath to human interest stories in the later phases of the attack.

Keywords: Terrorism, Media, Journalism, National Security, Communication