In terms of the correspondents reporting on the crisis, out of 588 reports in the months of May and June, 518 were from outside the state whereas only 70 news reports were from the local correspondents. This was a clear case of ‘parachute journalism’, said the report
The national media houses did not adhere to their own codes of conduct in many instances during their reporting about the Manipur crisis, according to a research report.
The research report —‘National’ Media and Manipur Mayhem – The Fourth Estate as a Site of Information War — was released on January 3 after a study was carried out under the supervision of Prof Angomcha Bimol Akoijam of JNU. The study examines the reportage of five leading National media houses regarding the Manipur violence during the period of May 2023-August 2023.
Utilizing the ethical codes delineated by the Press Council of India (PCI), 2022, as the framework of the assessment and using theoretical and methodological tools of media studies, it sought to assess the reportage regarding the Manipur crisis and to see whether their reports were fair, accurate, objective, and ethical. The study covers 1,599 news reports during the four months of unrest, said the report.
Citing an example, the report said one of the key patterns that has been noted in the news reportage is the use of ‘sources’ being quoted in the news items. It has been found that the ‘Kuki’ sources are quoted far more than the Meitei sources in the news reports and this difference is statistically found to be significant, it added.
The study also sheds light on the biases in the vocabulary employed. For instance, the loss of life of the ‘Kuki’ (or tribal) is often described as “killed” and that of the Meitei as “died”. The use of “killed” to describe the ‘Kuki’ deaths implies an intentional, unjust, and unnatural loss of life, hinting at those responsible for these deaths, said the report.
Even when referring to an incident involving firing, it remains vague, deflecting attention from attributing responsibility to the ‘Kukis’ for the deaths of the three Meiteis who were actually killed by them on July 2, 2023, it added.
The report further said the research found that such biased reportage may have aggravated the situation instead of focussing on core issues based on factual reporting.
The report noted that in terms of the correspondents reporting on the crisis, out of 588 reports in the months of May and June, 518 were from outside the state whereas only 70 news reports were from the local correspondents. This was a clear case of ‘parachute journalism’ wherein reporters are dispatched from distant regions or with limited local knowledge to cover crises or events, often lacking an in-depth understanding of the area’s historical context, cultural nuances, and intricate societal dynamics, it said.
The research report was published by Media and Policy Analysis and Advocacy Loisang, Imphal.