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Delhi-NCR: Most Muslims read Hindi newspapers

Delhi-NCR: Most Muslims read Hindi newspapers

New Delhi, Apr 9 (UNI) There is a popular perception that most Muslims in India read Urdu newspapers; but a media survey in the Delhi-NCR has revealed that a major part of their population reads the Hindi newspapers despite "anti-Muslim bias, hostile editorial policy and lack of coverage."

According to the findings of the survey done to know as to how the community feels about this, an overwhelming majority of Muslims in Delhi-NCR and Haryana read Hindi newspapers and not Urdu, the language they speak in their daily life.

These are some of the findings of a survey conducted in typical Muslim neighbourhoods of the national capital as well as neighbouring Haryana state. A total of 20 Muslim localities of Delhi and five cities in Haryana were selected for the survey. All the respondents were Muslims.

According to the survey, 84pc Muslim readers were of the view that the Hindi newspapers should give more coverage to their community. They perceive Hindi newspapers as biased and hostile towards them. “They either don’t report about them or, if at all they do, the tone and tenor of their reporting are negative,” added the survey.

The survey was conducted by a senior journalist, Shaheen Nazar, between December 2018 and January 2019 in the Delhi-NCR localities of Jama Masjid, Kishangnaj, Ballimaran, Nabi Karim, Ghonda, Jafarabad, Mustafabad, Mansarover Park, Seemapuri, Loni, Abul Fazal Enclave, Zakir Nagar, Shaheen Bagh, Kanchan Kunj, Jaitpur, Vasundhra Enclave, Trilokpuri, Raghubir Nagar, Uttam Nagar, Jahangirpuri, Vikas Nagar and Haryana's Ballabh Garh, Nooh, Panipat, Shakrawa and Gurugram. It was sponsored by the "Mass Media", a monthly media research journal, and published in its latest issue of April 2019.

A total of 266 responses were received, roughly 10 from each locality. The age-groups of the respondents were: 36pc up to 20 years, 27pc between 20 and 30 years, 36pc 30 years and above and 1pc others.

Educational levels of the respondents were: 41pc 10th pass/ matriculate, 45pc graduate, 12pc post-graduate and 2pc others.

According to the survey, the Hindi newspapers sell more copies than the Urdu newspapers even in the Muslim neighbourhoods. But this fact is not reflected in the editorial policy of these Hindi newspapers.

"Every newspaper tries to give due coverage to all the sections of its target readership. But in the case of Muslims, who constitute an important chunk of their readership, leading newspapers are consistent and unanimous in ignoring them. On the contrary, they paint a negative image of the entire Muslim community," the survey observed.

Nearly half of the respondents, 44pc to be precise, said they read only Hindi newspapers; 23pc said they read Hindi as well as Urdu newspapers. If we combine both (44+23), then it comes to 67pc Muslim population which reads Hindi newspapers.

Just 22pc said they read only Urdu newspapers.

If we combine this with those who read both Hindi and Urdu (22+23), it would mean 45pc or less than half, the residents of Muslim neighbourhoods read Urdu newspapers. English newspaper circulation in Muslim localities is limited: just 11pc said they read English dailies.

It’s noteworthy that majority of readers – of newspapers in any language – were found to be not satisfied with the content they get. Fifty-seven percent respondents said the newspaper of their choice was average, whereas 6pc said it was below standard; 23pc were found to be satisfied with the content they were getting. Fourteen percent did not reply.

Coverage not satisfactory: To a question “are you satisfied with the coverage given to your community?” 67pc respondents replied in the negative; 30pc in the affirmative; while 3pc did not reply. Eighty-four per cent respondents believed Hindi newspapers should give more coverage to their community. Eleven percent respondents were not concerned about it while five percent did not reply.

Biase against Muslims: Overwhelming majority of respondents (76pc) believed that their newspaper was biased against their community. Nineteen percent did not see any bias; 5pc gave no reply. The survey also re-enforced the general perception that Hindi newspapers tend to ignore the Muslim community -- 43pc said they rarely see news of Muslim interest such as coverage of an event in Muslim locality or statements issued by Muslim leaders or Muslim organisations/ institutions; 32pc said they see it occasionally; 7pc said commonly; 18pc did not reply. What type of news/ article/ feature disturbs or upsets Muslim readers? Seventy-two percent respondents did not reply to the question. However, 21pc said communal, anti-Muslim content or false allegation on Muslims; 7pc said violence and lynching.

Supportive of BJP/RSS stance: How many articles/features on issues of Muslim interest they find in a week? Thirty-nine percent respondents said one article per week; 27pc said two; 9pc said three; 7pc said more than three; 18pc did not reply. What are the tone and tenor of those articles/features, especially if written on topics like triple talaq, Aligarh Muslim University or Babri Masjid? Seventy-nine per cent said they are supportive of the stance of BJP/ RSS. Seven percent said they are supportive of Muslim community; 10pc were neutral; 4pc did not reply.

Do they find special features on Muslim festivals such as Ramazan, Eid, etc? Fifty-four per cent said yes; 34pc no; 12pc did not reply.

General disconnect: There appears to be a general disconnect between Muslim community and reporters/editors of Hindi newspapers. Thirty-six per cent respondents said editors/reporters of Hindi newspapers do not attend the programmes of Muslim community even when invited; 28pc said they do; 36pc did not reply.

Those editors/reporters who attend the programmes, do they publish news about them? Thirty-six percent said no; 28pc said yes; 36pc did not reply.

What is the tone and tenor of the news they publish? Thirty-eight per cent said it’s negative; 15pc said positive; 47pc did not reply.

Lack of dialogue: There appears to be a strong lack of dialogue between the Muslim community and Hindi journalists. The respondents were asked if you ever talked to the Editor/Reporter of a Hindi newspaper about its coverage of Muslim community. Just 2pc said yes. Fifty-four per cent replied in the negative; 44 per cent did not reply.

Fewer Muslim journalists in Hindi: Apparently, owners of Hindi newspapers don’t employ enough journalists from the community. That’s why 48pc – almost half of the respondents – said they rarely see any Muslim by-line in the newspapers they read. Thirty-two per cent respondents said they see name of Muslim reporters or writers occasionally. Just 10pc said they see it commonly; 18pc did not reply.

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