Assam ferry tragedy not newsy enough?

May 1, 2012

On Monday, India’s remote northeastern state of Assam saw probably its biggest tragedy in recent memory, when an overloaded ferry carrying about 300 people sank in the Brahmaputra river, killing at least 103 people.

However, the bigger tragedy perhaps was the minimal coverage it got in the national media. Apart from The Hindu, which had the accident as its top story, none of the leading dailies in the country gave it much coverage beyond a mention on the front page.

Considering that the news first surfaced at around 6 p.m. on Monday, newspapers had ample time to give it more space if they so wished before they went to print, again putting the spotlight on the much-discussed question of whether the northeast is ignored by the national media.

“Has #Assam ferry tragedy been ignored on Twitter/ television? We’ll be RTing all responses,” the New York Times tweeted on Tuesday to a massive response.

What was even more interesting was to see prominent journalists posting tweets even as news channels kept speculating on a bail plea for a dentist accused of killing her daughter in New Delhi, and even more far-fetched speculations on India’s next president.

“Assam n northeast doesn’t mean anything to us! We r a nation obsessed with big cities n their celebs!” Twitter user Ambreen Zaidi wrote.

The recent tragedy is not an isolated instance. The same debate creeps up every time a major event happens in the remote northeast region, and the Indian media is accused of not giving it enough coverage.

Having said that, media organisations also base their coverage on the potential interest of their viewers and readers, and change their content according to what is expected to garner the most attention.

That says something about the majority viewers and readers in the country as well.

We hope that Twitter user Abraham Kuruvilla’s worst fears don’t come true.

“Empires begin to decay when the Palace Admin finds it difficult to govern far flung regions,” he tweeted in response to the New York Times on Tuesday.


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Glad you wrote this Anurag. Sad that it took another foreign news organisation posting a twitter campaign to set this in motion.

Posted by Anuja.J | Report as abusive

Thanks for throwing the spotlights on this issue Anurag. Sad,but the truth is the majority of the Indian dailies and the media did not cover this tragedy but were too busy covering some trivial issues.

Posted by Noobie | Report as abusive