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News channels go overboard on Sheena Bora murder coverage

As per a study by CMS Media Lab, six news channels aired 2,282 minutes (38 hours) of special programmes on the case during prime time between August 25 and September 8

Mayur Lookhar | Mumbai | September 18, 2015


The Sheena Bora murder case had grabbed headlines with the high profile people involved, the complex developments and sensational revelations everyday. It’s no wonder that the news had dominated prime time coverage (8-10 pm) of on news channels.

The murder case consumed one-third of the prime time of news channels, according to a study conducted by CMS Media Lab.

In a bid to understand the coverage trends of the Sheena Bora murder case, CMS Media Lab analysed 15 days’ coverage of six national news channels from August 25, 2015 to September 8, 2015. The channels included in the study were Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, DD News, CNN-IBN and Times Now.

According to the study, English news channels gave more coverage to the murder case compared to Hindi News channels.

But what was disturbing was the way the new was covered, with most of the channels not following even the fundamentals of fact-driven reportage. The coverage has been widely criticised for unnecessary sensationalism and trial by media.

The CMS Media Lab study reveals that the six news channels carried 113 stories and 61 special programmes on the Sheena Bora murder case. These channels aired 2,282 minutes (38 hours) of special programmes and stories during the 15-day period under review. Among the monitored news channels, two English news channels – Times Now and CNN-IBN – together contributed 60 per cent of the total coverage minutes. Times Now alone devoted 40 per cent of its total coverage time to this case.

Times Now topped in the coverage by devoting 948 minutes, followed by CNN-IBN which allotted 424 minutes. Among Hindi news channels, Aaj Tak led the coverage with 341 minutes, followed by Zee News and ABP News and Zee News with 268 minutes and 263 minutes of coverage, respectively. DD News gave the least time to the case, allotting only 36 minutes during the 15-day period under review.

During the same period, these news channels gave low priority to important issues like farmer suicides, floods and drought in different states. The editorial priorities of news channels show how they manufacture a crime story into a national concern and also highlight their level of seriousness towards mass reality.

Prime time (8-10 pm) coverage of Sheena Bora murder case

(August 25-September 8, 2015)

Channel News stories Time Special Time Total Time
AajTak 25 80 min 15 sec 15 261 min 35 sec 341 min 50 sec
DD News 28 36 min 10 sec - - 36 min 10 sec
ABP News 24 83 min 40 sec 11 179 min 35 sec 263 min 15 sec
Zee News 14 81 min 50 sec 05 186 min 35 sec 268 min 25 sec
CNN-IBN 17 109 min 20 sec 10 314 min 50 sec 424 min 10 sec
Times Now 05 39 min 20 sec 20 908 min 50 sec 948 min 10 sec
Total 113 430 min 35 sec 61 1851 min 25 sec 2282 min

Source: CMS Media Lab

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