With the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls just a month away, dailies in the state have lined up extensive coverage plans while adhering to the Government’s directions on paid news.
This time there are more than one crore young voters, many of whom would be casting their votes for the first time.
Keeping this in mind Rahul Kansal, Brand Director, The Times of India, said, “We have come up with the Lead India 2012 campaign, which will basically focus on youths as they will be playing a key role.” He further said, “We want to know the opinions of first time voters and also want them to take active part in the elections.”
Amar Ujala, one of the largest Hindi dailies in Uttar Pradesh, is covering the elections in two parts. The first part is ‘Mahasamar’, which is a report card of the poll candidates in the fray, on what work they have done. The second part is Jansamwad, which offers a platform to the people to give their views on the poll candidates and their expectations from them.
“There are more than 54 lakh young voters in UP, who are in the 18-22 age group. We have dedicated two pages for the elections – called ‘Biggest Swing factor’ and ‘Power of Youth’. The coverage will comprise news related to the expectations of and the questions raised by first time voters,” shared Alok Sanwal, Editor and COO, inext, the youth-centric paper from Dainik Jagran.
Sharing his paper’s poll coverage plans, Daily News Activist’s Editor, Dr Nishith Ray, said, “We are covering elections with our special feature ‘Janadesh ki jung’. It will comprise two pages, which will contain all the happenings around the elections as well as the political candidates and their past record.” He added, “We are scanning what the candidate has promised and what they have they done. We are also featuring questions raised by the people as to whom they wanted to represent them in the government and what were their expectations from them.”
Paid news and poll coverage
The Election Commission and Press Council of India have issued strict guidelines for paid news. Speaking to exchange4media, Rahul Sharma, Under Secretary, Media, Election Commission, informed, “We have formed an internal committee that looks into such matters and takes proper action. We have also formed district level and state level monitoring committees, who keep a tab on media activities.”
Speaking in this regard, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, former Election Commission member and senior journalist, remarked, “There is a lot of chance of paid news, and some of the people may lose their credibility. Even I have received a complaint regarding a paid news incident in Gorakhpur.” He added that the Election Commission and Press Council were working into these complaints.
Guha Thakurta affirmed, “There should be strict action taken by the police and the Income Tax Department against the person who is giving the bribe and also the one who is receiving it.”
The guideline issued by the Election Commission for the media to check instances of paid news during elections states, “Newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports of any candidate/ party or incident during the elections. While reporting on actual campaign, a newspaper may not leave out any important point raised by a candidate and make an attack on his or her opponent.”
It also stresses that the press is not expected to indulge in canvassing of a particular candidate/ party.