India more lenient towards media's coverage of economic downturn: Study

MUMBAI: While the world stands to blame the media for keeping them blindsided to the severity of the economic crisis, about a third of Indian respondents do not rest all blame on media, reveals the latest 52-nation online survey conducted by The Nielsen Company.

India figures ninth on the list of countries who disagree with the view that news media did not do a good job of informing them of issues that led to the economic downturn in India.

The general consensus among consumers across much of the world is that the media did a poor job informing the public about the issues leading up to the current financial crisis. In India too, 45 per cent of the respondents agreed that media coverage was inadequate but the number of people who disagree is also quite large.

The two regions where consumers were most dissatisfied were Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, these were the areas hit the most by the current economic crisis. On the other hand, consumers in many Asia Pacific nations, where the impact on the economy hasn't been as harsh, were generally less critical of the media.

"In the recent Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence study India was ranked third on confidence levels. The comparatively high level of confidence that Indians have in their economy might be a reason why Indians have shown more mercy towards media coverage during the downturn than the rest of the world. Also the fact that India didn't face a full blown downturn helped the media to save itself from consumers' ire," said The Nielsen Company India associate director - consumer research Vatsala Pant.

The study states that not only do fewer Indians blame media for its past coverage of the downturn, but with 70 per cent votes, India is ranked third in the list of countries who think that the current media is doing a good job in helping them understand the issues affecting the global economy. Indian respondents also agree that media is helping them to better understand what the governments are doing to solve the economic problems at hand (61 per cent - 6th highest globally).

Attitudes about early media coverage were most positive in the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, Venezuela and India, all of which scored above the global average.

Factors that drove the failure to communicate were varied.

Some critics have argued that the financial media was too close to those it covered. Moreover, the speed of negative events following the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy filing caught not only journalists by surprise, but also economists and government officials.

Globally, many of the 25,000-plus consumers polled believe media performance has improved over time. In much of the Asia Pacific region, the public thought the media was doing a good job in providing information about what the issues are and what governments are doing to address them.

57 per cent Indian respondents think that the amount of current news coverage of the global financial crisis is just about right for them, 23 per cent think it's not enough for them and 20 per cent think there is too much coverage.

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