In an age of ‘hyper-localisation’ in media, national news is no longer making the headlines in regional news papers and television channels. Even some of the leading Odia news channels don’t have a specified time-slot for national news. Many of the leading Odia news papers, however, devote a minimum half page for the coverage of national and international happenings. The on going ‘Modi hype’ seen in the national media has not made a major impact in Odisha, but the influence is visible in the Odia media as the media is giving comparatively giving more importance to Modi than other BJP stalwarts.
“We cover Narendra Modi when he makes the headlines in the national media. We do not give him undue prominence but we have carried news of his victory on the front page with a photograph, both as the second lead,” says Kamalakanta Pati, edition-in-charge of leading odia daily Dharitri. Not only Dharitri, but all the Odia dailies had carried Modi’s victory in Gujarat assembly poll on front page. The oldest daily of Odisha, The Samaj had carried Modi’s victory as the lead story of the front page in its 21st December edition. Similarly, Sambad, another largest circulated odia daily, carries news Modi quite frequently. Subrat Swain, in-charge of national-international page says, “Now Narendra Modi is a news maker in national politics, so readers want to know about his activities and we are carrying his news according to its weight.”
But Gopal Krishna Mohapatra, Editor of The Samaj, has a different view. He comments, “As far as Samaj is concerned and our editorial policy is concerned; now we are not giving any ‘extra-attention’ to either Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi as Prime ministerial candidates.”
A scan of leading Odia dailies of last three months show that most dailies have carried former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha’s demand that Modi be declared the BJP candidate for Prime Minister on 29th of January, 2013; as well as the war of words between BJP leader Arun Jaitley and Press Council of India Chairman Markandeya Katju, over the latter’s article critical of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Some Odia dailies have also given good coverage to Modi in their 9th of February edition, when European Union envoys stated that, ‘Narendra Modi told us 2002 riots were unfortunate.’
Odia electronics media is also giving due weightage to Narendra Modia. “We put it in headlines of the national news bulletin, when any news relating Modi comes to us,” says Durga Madhab Mishra, Bureau Chief of Odia news channel Kanak TV.
Media analyst and Professor of Indian Institute of Mass Communication Mrinal Chatterjee observes, ‘Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi campaign, which is visible in national media, so far has not impacted regional media in Odisha to a large extent. The reason being the regional media is more concerned about local issues and issues at hand, issues related to the livelihood of the people.”