Before viral video, little primetime space for Manipur, few ground reports by big anchors

The Manipur conflict is now part of primetime news after the PM’s statement and outrage over a viral video.

WrittenBy:Pratyush Deep
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Cornered by Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi on the lack of debates on Manipur until the emergence of a viral video, Times Now chief editor Navika Kumar on Wednesday denied the allegation and also promised to send her “links” of the channel’s coverage.

But since you will never have access to those “links”, if they are ever sent, Newslaundry is at your service, to bring a clear picture of Manipur coverage by some of our favourite primetime anchors.


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The Manipur conflict is now part of primetime news. A large section of television media, however, had lacked such coverage until the video of two women being paraded naked by a mob triggered public outrage and a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. The state has been gripped by violence since May 3, but few channels have assigned ground reports from the state to senior journalists – in sharp contrast to the PM’s US and France visits, covered by prominent anchors and editors.

We looked at how top channels and anchors covered the conflict from May 3 to July 19 – a day before the viral video drew the attention of the PM, Supreme Court and the National Commission for Women.

Aaj Tak and India Today

On Aaj Tak, Anjana Om Kashyap’s show Halla Bol did not discuss Manipur until the video went viral on Thursday last week. The focus of her shows between May 3 and July 19 has largely revolved around the opposition’s unity, controversial film Kerala Story, “love jihad”, and cyclone Biparjoy, among others. 

Sudhir Chaudhary’s show Black and White featured two segments on Manipur in May – one on May 5 and another on May 31 during Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state. The telecast on May 5 carried some media criticism too. “We will talk at length about the violence going on between Hindus and Christians in Manipur which has made the situation very tense. But if the same  violence had occurred in and around Delhi, it would have become the biggest news of the country,” Chaudhary said.

On Aaj Tak’s sister network India Today, Rajdeep Sardesai discussed Manipur while the PM was on his US visit – it was the only primetime show to give space to the issue at 9 pm during the PM’s US and France visits.

The India Today Group deployed prominent anchors Rahul Kanwal, Shweta Singh and Geeta Mohan to cover the PM’s US tour, while it assigned Manipur reportage to editor Mausumi Singh, deputy editor Ashutosh Mishra, and correspondents Akshay Dongare and Sarashwat Kashyap.

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Times Now and Times Now Navbharat

Until the video went viral, the primetime shows on Times Now did not feature a single segment on Manipur.

The issue came up thrice in Navika Kumar’s shows on Times Now only when panellists from opposition parties tried to raise it. 

Before the video was circulated last week, Kumar’s shows focussed on issues like Kerala Story, the Opposition, violence in the West Bengal panchayat polls, SDM Jyoti Maurya controversy, PM Modi’s “super hit” US visit, Geeta Press, “freebies” promised by Congress, and Aurangzeb, among others.

So to answer Priyanka Chaturvedi’s question, Navika had not done a single show on Manipur until the viral video emerged.

On Times Now Navbharat, anchor and consulting editor Sushant Sinha featured Manipur in his primetime show three times – twice when Amit Shah visited the state and once on July 6 with the headline, “Manipur se jo khabrein aayi vo Modi virodhiyo ko pasand nhi ayegi.” The show on July 6 tried to convey that Manipur was returning to normalcy, using data on reopening of schools in the state.

Sushant Sinha was sent to the US to cover the PM’s visits, while Times Now relied on correspondents Aishvarya Jain and Nibir Deka to cover the situation in Manipur.

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Republic TV

Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami featured Manipur in his primetime debate only after the video went viral. The conflict was earlier discussed once on Goswami’s primetime show but Goswami did not host this show.

The channel’s northeast correspondent Anirudhha Bhakat was picked to cover Manipur while primetime anchor Aishwariya Kapoor was sent to the US to cover the prime minister’s visit.

Editors abroad, reporters in Manipur

News18 told managing editor Zakka Jacob and executive editor Amitabh Sinha to cover the PM’s US visit, and political editor (Europe) Sanjay Suri to look at France. Manipur was covered by correspondent Preety Priyadarshinee. 

NDTV sent senior anchor and senior editor Maha Siddique and principal anchor and executive editor Vishnu Som to cover the PM’s US and France visits, respectively. While the Manipur crisis was reported by Saurabh Gupta, the channel’s bureau chief in Kolkata.

ABP assigned the Manipur situation to correspondent Jainendra Kumar, while the PM’s US and France visits were covered by national affairs editor Vikas Bhadauria and foreign affairs editor Ashish Singh, respectively.

Zee News sent correspondent Sumit Sen Gupta to cover Manipur while the PM’s US and France visits were reported on by its chief special correspondent Vishal Pandey.

India TV and TV9 Bharatvarsh did not send any reporter to France. They deployed senior journalists to cover Manipur.

India TV sent political editor Devendra Parashar to the US and defence editor Manish Prasad to Manipur. Meanwhile, TV9 Bharatvarsh, which had told senior executive editor Nishant Chaturvedi and global affairs correspondent Rohit Sharma to cover the PM’s US visit, assigned the Manipur coverage to national affairs editor Kumar Vikrant and senior special correspondent Jitendra Sharma.

State broadcaster DD News was the only organisation to have not sent any reporter to Manipur until the video went viral. However, it did not lag behind in ground reports on the PM’s US and France visits. It sent anchors Ajay Mishra and Ashok Srivastava to the US and anchor Amritpal Singh to France. 

Except TV9 and India Today Group, no other outlet sent senior journalists to Manipur.

All this indicates that even as Manipur struggled to get space, channels found it more worthy to assign top editors to cover topics such as the PM’s visit from the ground. Some top anchors even flew to Ukraine to cover a war, but on the home front, the “piercing” message from Manipur – as Navika noted in her question to Priyanka Chaturvedi – seems to be mostly reserved for the studios.

With inputs from Anu Jakar and Mohammad Sarim.

Update at 4.47 pm, July 29: Jainendra Kumar covered Manipur only for ABP. This report also erroneously mentioned Aaj Tak's Halla Bol telecast on Kerala Story as a show on Kashmir Files. The errors have been corrected.

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