Sunday, June 21, 2009

An analysis of Letters to Editor

I have been thinking of doing a similar analysis of Letters to Editor for some time. Just got a little lazy, may be. ;-) Or may be because we all knew what the graph would like.

Dasu Krishnamoorthy did a similar analysis on chindu "during the period from December 2002 to January 2003, opines that The Hindu gives undue weight to only one side of issues. To prove this, he cites (1)examples of news reports (identifiable by datelines) that opines on the issue reported.[14] (These examples appeared in the paper prior to the editor change of August 2003.) (2)A count of op-ed pieces during the two month period to show that one point of view gets more weightage, while opinions differing from the editorial stance are not adequately represented. His main complaint is that the paper does not adequately reflect majority sentiment."

The Hindu : Opinion / Readers' Editor : Online : Issues of acceptance and accommodation
Jagannadhan Ravi (Toronto, Canada) took a totally different approach. He sent me a big Excel file, a statistical analysis of “Letters to the Editor” published for 100 days, from September 17, 2008 to January 12, 2009. The list includes 1,483 names of letter writers, with a daily tabulation of the number of letters, those in agreement with the paper’s stand and those dissenting. He finds there are 12 to 14 letters daily, with one or a maximum of two (none on some days) disagreeing with the paper. There is a detailed analysis of the contents, leading him to the conclusion that there is lack of professionalism and credibility.

Ravi, who says he has been watching the column for years, argues that it is filled with letters that sing paeans to the paper’s wisdom. Certain names appear often, probably because they agree with the editor always. Such letters, in his view, are self-righteous and strongly expressed, while the very few critical ones are meek, almost apologetic.


Xinhua Ram said...

One heck of a job by this Ravi of Toronto. Hope someone can get in touch with him and tap his efforts on this blog.

Dirt Digger said...

If anyone can get in touch with Jagannathan Ravi, please do ask him to contact us and we will publish statistics of the report as mentioned by the reader's editor.

kuttychathan said...

By the way... going by the normal practice, the bi-weekly column of the readers editor that appeared today, should be last column written by Mr. Narayanan. But there is no mention about his departure in today's column. I strongly suspect today's column was written along with its first part, which appeared on June 8.

My suspicion that there is something fishy behind Mr. Narayanan's departure has been strengthened.

Will Mr. Narayanan or chindu please clarify?

Anonymous said...

"Certain names appear often, probably because they agree with the editor always." Do these persons really exist? If they do, perhaps they have been coopted to sing the Chindu chorus the reward being to see their own name in the centre page!

Hindu Fundamentalist said...

i was expecting narayanan to make some parting comments. but the article has no hint of the change. i agree with you, it is quite strange.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Narayanan has not even made a hint of leaving (or being asked to leave). Does it mean he gets an "extension" of sorts or has been unceremoniously kicked out?

SK said...

One more observation I made with respect to the functioning of r. Narayan...

This Ravi guy sent him the excel sheet some time around February, and the RE responds now! In the past too, RE quotes readers who have written to him 2-3 months before his article is published!

Also, Narayan has concentrated a lot on debunking the reader's argument instead of taking up their concerns to the fullest! Most of his articles were always about how readers caught errors in grammar, how Gaurdian handled complaints etc.

I think the new guy should take care that his bi-weekly doesn't drag on with the same issues continously

kuttychathan said...

Dear freind SK...Please don't have such expectations...Vis-chaprasi, the new readers editor will be giving lessons how in this feudal, hindu-fascist society, no responsible newspaper can be impartial. How much the poor jehadis, evangelist & commies need our support....etc.