I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Economic Times's Agenda

While I don't agree with Ganashakti's contention that "The throwing up of the billionaires is the result of enlarging the size and deepening the misery of the “other end of the social ladder”, in Billionaires: Growth of Plunder, I am with them when they rubbish Economic Tabloid's claim that "The very process that makes billionaires out of the more enterprising also throws open windows that bring new light and cheer into lives at the other end of the social ladder"

In fact, The Economic Tabloid has over the last few years been vociferous about Indians getting richer (even richer than China*!). On the other hand, unemployment has been rising and most probably income distribution's getting skewed as well**. This, however, doesn't get as much attention.

I did a test on my hypothesis by doing a google search on the terms poverty, fashion designer, unemployment, rich on ET etc. and here's what I found in terms of number of entries in that tabloid:

Poverty: 502 entries
Unemployment: 240 entries
Fashion: 12,800 entries
Rich: 26,400 entries

Mercedes: 356 entries
India Shining: 167 entries
Suicide: 268 entries

Farmer: 240 entries
Fashion Designer: 225 entries

Super Rich: 149 entries
Poverty Line: 193 entries

Medha Patkar: 9 entries
Rohit Bal: 134 entries
Verghese Kurien: 54 entries
Warren Buffet: 44 entries
Bill Gates: 399 entries

Caviar: 17 entries
Jowar
: 54 entries
Zunka Bhakar: 0 entries
Mid day meal: 65 entries
Champagne: 369 entries

Derivatives: 406 entries
Micro-finance: 145 entries

Obviously the test is flawed on various counts. Firstly, the terms might be out of context in certain articles, which neither Google nor I can determine. Secondly, the terms have not been chosen blindly or randomly but are words which came to my (possibly biased) mind. I am sure you will be able to come up with many more flaws, but then this is not my thesis either.

Having put in the caveats, I would say that the test proved my point. In fact, some of the learnings were surprising for me.

ET has almost as much news on fashion designers (200 crore industry as on farmers (30% of economy). Rohit Bal scores way above Medha Patkar and Verghese Kurien. Super Rich is almost as important as Poverty Line. Mercedes is about to catch up with Poverty. Lastly, champagne does pretty well compared to jowar, zunka bhakar, mid-day meal.

I wonder whether there's a correlation between rise in space hired out to Medianet, the Bennett, Coleman-owned PR agency which writes news in the TOI group newspapers and increase in news about 'India getting richer'. I hope somebody with access to archives and enough time on one's hand would do this study.

*Which is okay. However, what is more important is that China's per capita income is 3-4 times ours.
**I don't have facts to back this as the latest Economic Surveys don't have data on BPL data or the Gini coefficient.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Mowgli said...

A similar study done by an American sociologist found that the frequency of occurence of 'disaster', 'apocalypse', 'catastrophe' etc. in american mainstream print media has been steadily rising since the first half of the 20th century.

He correlated it with the impression people have about rising crime etc. when apparently crime rate was declining over the years.

I may be mistaken about specifics but this was the broad idea.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 5:03:00 AM

 
Anonymous Mowgli said...

Ganashakti makes a case for

A: Billionaires are on the rise

B: The other end of the social ladder is witnessing deteriorating conditions

ie. Ganashakti says
'A is true and B is true'

but how can one therefore conclude that 'A implies B' ?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 5:15:00 AM

 
Blogger dhoomketu said...

Mowgli,
Agree with you on Ganashakti. I do not understand how they argue (maybe they go back the theory of surplus value created by labour accumulated by capitalists).

As far as the study is concerned, yes, some day, we will read the history of ET and see how they dumbed down the newspaper to earn revenue and how they misled themselves into believing that India was getting richer.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 6:34:00 AM

 
Blogger Mridula said...

Ahh, I am so sick and tired of reading about the fashion week and this trend and that, I stay away from the Slimes group. Good work.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 9:47:00 PM

 
Blogger Mr. D said...

I think this is part of a larger issue. How can they subvert news by selling space in the Medianet sense of the word? I pointed out to someone I know who works there, that it seems completely unethical to me. Her best defense was that they do not print factually incorrect stuff. I still feel this is grossly incorrect, and sadly they're among the most popular English newspapers around.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 4:23:00 AM

 
Blogger dhoomketu said...

Mridula, Slimes is apt.

Dibyo, sometimes they print opinions as news. Don't think all of the Medianet stuff is fact. You can go to the site for more evidence to face your friend with..

Thursday, March 30, 2006 5:55:00 AM

 

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