INDIA: Cut out celebrity trivia from world news pages

Minister of state for external affairs encourages newspapers to expand international news coverage in content and amount

The Times of India
Friday, August 28, 2009

New Delhi --- Troubled by celebrity news dominating world affairs coverage in Indian newspapers, minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said papers must move away from mere tokenism. He added that this was happening even as news coverage on Indian politics had become far more indepth and substantive than before.

Pointing out that celebrity trivia accounted for a large portion of international coverage, Tharoor said, "I think most of our top national newspapers today find it difficult to devote more than one page to world affairs. I find this particularly troubling in an era in which we are living in a globalising world... where we cannot escape being conscious of the fact that India is no longer thriving behind protectionist barriers." He was speaking at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) annual conference on the role of newspapers and free media in India.

Urging "professional purveyors of international news" to do better than the token one page of very short items that passed for world news coverage, Tharoor said India must celebrate growth in the print industry that had defied global trends.

"If you contrast our newspaper circulations with countries like the US, there is no comparison. Today, The Times of India claims to be the largest circulated English daily in the world, at a time when the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal is dwindling. Our Times is read by some 13.3 million people daily, while the best-selling American paper, USA Today, has 2.5 million readers," the minister said.

Tharoor added that Indian language papers were doing even better. The extent to which Hindi language publications had, in keeping with their share of the literate population, increased dramatically is a sign for the future, he said.