How Modi won the media war as well as the election

The election hullabaloo and pandemonium ended with the much-awaited results announced in mid-May— a landslide Modi victory. The buzz around India’s juicy electoral politics became an inherent part of front-page headlines.

The election fever had already made us restless, so to add spice to it we did some ground study (by looking at newspaper pages/news clippings, weighing words and crunching numbers) to spot “who-defeated-whom” in gaining media limelight.

We extracted the data required by accessing the front-page headlines of the Delhi editions of 6 financial dailies (The Economic Times, Business Standard, The Financial Express, Mint, The Hindu Business Line, and Financial Chronicle) and 4 mainline dailies (The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu and The Indian Express).

Interestingly (though not surprising!), the study revealed that not only did Mr. Narendra Modi beat his political opponents with a huge margin but also made the media presence of MNCs operating in India, scam-hit ministers and major regulatory bodies insignificant with his larger than party image.

His brand was such that everyone wanted to write a piece – dissenter, approver alike. And hence, Mr. Narendra Modi dominated the top 5 mentions with 793 mentions. ‘BJP’ came a distant second with 250 mentions. The other 3 entities that made an entry into the top 5 mentions were ‘Congress’ (187 times), ‘Rahul’ (115) and ‘AAP’ (92).

Thus, it becomes crystal clear that ‘Modi’ led the pack effortlessly by capturing the attention of major media houses while others lagged far behind (does that remind you of the poll results?…of course!). Some of the striking stories on Mr. Narendra Modi and BJP were Modi being the 14th PM of India, filing of FIR against Modi for violating the poll code, and Prasar Bharati probing the edit of the Modi interview.

The reasons for Mr. Narendra Modi’s thundering victory are clearly evident if we observe the findings by publication genre. Both mainlines and financials provided extensive front-page headlines to Mr. Narendra Modi. His image, overhyped personality and his tempting/appealing verbose promises forced media houses to become a part of a Modi wave and mint a few more bucks in an era where people consume most of the content online. The print publications took the opportunity to grab more eyeballs before Tsunami subdues!

Other than political parties and their leaders, entities that were prominently visible in the provided tag cloud were mainly policing bodies – CBI, RBI, and SEBI. Tata also received notable mentions in the front page headlines.

News drivers for RBI, SEBI and Tata were:

RBI: Majority of the articles were neutral for RBI. Some of the prominent coverage was on the RBI and Finmin spat over NPAs at PSBs, issuing of norms for on-tap banking licenses, relaxed gold import norms and submitting reports which stated that the government should cut holding in PSBs to under 50%.  

SEBI: Majority of the coverage revolved around SEBI’s regulatory actions. Some of the prominent coverage was on the setting up of FPI limit of 10% per company, asking FM to consider tax sops for MFs, raising cash transaction limit in MFs to Rs. 50,000 and CBI questioning SEBI Chief in MCX-SX case.

Tata: The majority of the articles received by Tata were favorable. It was in the news for Tata JV may bid for Mumbai Airport, Tata Motors overall sales down 34%, Two Senior executives quit ahead of Tata Motors’ crucial launches, Tata’s line up funds to buy DoCoMo stake, Tata-Singapore Airlines plans to launch services from September, Tata Steel posts Rs. 1,036-cr profit in Q4 and Tata Comm inks deal to sell Neotel stake to Vodafone arm for $676 m.

“Abki baar Modi sarkaar, kehta hai apni surkhio mein har akhbaar!!”

Authored by: Shikha and Fiza Noori, Impact Research & Measurement Pvt. Ltd.

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