It is the media that has made me a household name today by taking me to the nook and corner of the country, said social activist Anna Hazare. Hazare, 73, who was given the CNN-IBN's Indian of the Year Award for redefining the country's political discourse, said, "I have taken the wickets of six ministers (in Maharashtra) and more will follow."
Hindustan Times, December 17, 2011
Not so intensely or even warmly debated but role of media in covering the anti-corruption movement has been a significant one. The wave that started slowly as the coverage plans of potentially developing story on April 4-5 of editorial meetings acquired almost a full-barrel support mode by the August episode. Pros and cons of this media stand were discussed. Some wrote on excessive bent of media honchos on making Anna Hazare an outright hero of India beyond Maharashtra. But they remained unheard largely. What made Anna Hazare click for media? Naturally, it was the unprecedented public support but here it was impregnated with a basic tenet of as human nature as well.
The managing desk of media organizations needed eyeballs. Public support ensured that. Afterwards, the glued eyeballs set the agenda. It was just the Lokpal and a veteran septuagenarian fighting selflessly for the anti-corruption cause that caught the attention of the masses. Public on the street brought public to the TV sets, Internet platforms and newspapers. The almost absolute interest ensured almost absolute coverage during April and August fasts last year and a significantly higher media space chunk in the intermittent period. The adrenaline rush of media coverage was on par with boiling testosterone of the masses during the fasts. That ensured healthy return on the resources deployed by the media outfits.
Once earnings insured, it pushed many of the outfits to take a ‘pro-’ stand to the anti-corruption movement. And that was a welcome step in a truly classic situation where ‘the’ public was setting the agenda. A public setting media agenda is a rarity reserved for mass movements, a fact proved time and again.
Once earnings ensured, the developments went on to gratify the basic human nature of identifying with a snowballing positive cause. Media persons planning and covering the fasts were humans in the end and there was nothing wrong when they felt to be the part of the contributing group. They took a stand, most visibly by Times Now. That was a welcome stand. When an issue becomes larger than all the contemporaries, all the stakeholders have to take a stand. And corruption, indeed, dominated the Indian psyche last year. That has been the standalone achievement of India’s anti-corruption movement.
The problem arose and precipitated during the intermittent phases.