ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: Depending on what you expect of your newspaper, either The Times of India played just the right role in the N. Srinivasan matter: proactively taking up an issue that concerns a “nation of a billion-plus”, right up to the very end, even if it did not secure the end it would have liked.
Or, it plainly overdid it, to the exclusion of all else, eventually falling flat on its face.
Over a 13-day period beginning May 22, ToI ran 87 pieces (outside of general BCCI/IPL pieces) with the BCCI president exclusively in focus and almost all of them either demanding, provoking or predicting the end for Srinivasan following his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan‘s arrest in the alleged IPL betting scandal involving Vindoo Dara Singh.
Among these 87 pieces were seven editorials, mini-editorials and opinion pieces, five interviews, and four cartoons.
It even launched a public service advertising campaign (below) midway through the campaign.
ToI‘s hunt for Srinivasan’s head—which even as of today is far removed from the original IPL spotfixing scam involving S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan—began on May 22, the day it launched its “I Lead India” campaign with the poser: “Do you feel you can be a changemaker?”
But it was only on May 28, the day after Srinivasan told a BCCI meeting in Calcutta that he would not resign following his son-in-law’s arrest for his purported involvement in betting, that the ToI coverage took on a more aggressive, advocacy air—eerily reminiscent of the paper’s Commonwealth Games campaign—urging board members, politicians and other sportspersons to speak up or quit to bring pressure on Srinivasan to do the same.
In making the murky BCCI saga its bread, butter, jam and marmalade day after day for 13 days, The Times of India relegated more important but less reader-friendly stories, like the massacre of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh at the hands of Maoists to the inside pages.
# On May 26, the day after the Chhattisgarh massacre in which 28 people perished, the story was second-lead (as indeed in the Hindustan Times).
# Srinivasan’s fate was the lead ToI story on each of the 13 days; in contrast, the Chhattisgarh ambush found a front-page mention only on four days.
# Altogether, ToI ran 29 stories on Chhattisgarh as opposed to 87 on Srinivasan alone.
# Four times, ToI invoked the name of India Cements, Srinivasan’s company (“India Cements stocks hit 52-week low”, “India Cements brand to take a hit”, “India Cements disowns Meiyappan”, “India Cements underperform peers”) to drive home its point on Srinivasan.
# On May 29, ToI rounded up 30 talking heads seeking Srinivasan’s ouster.
The role of Times Now in drumming up the anti-Srinivasan mood is outside of this quantitative analysis, but with Srinivasan only “stepping aside” for a month at the end of all the sound and fury signifying nothing, the newsworthiness of the Times campaign is open to question.
Below are the Times of India‘s 87 headlines, graphics straplines, intros, editorials, mini-editorials, cartoons, interviews involving Srinivasan over the 13-day period.
Lead story: IPL fixing scandal could reach the top
Team-owner’s relative [Gurunath Meiyappan] under lens
Phone records link him with betting syndicate
Lead story: Police prepare to question BCCI chief’s son-in-law for betting links Day after TOI‘s report, CSK boss Gurunath Meiyappan elusive
BCCI chief mum on Meiyappan role
Editorial: Clean the Stables
A school dropout, Guru tried to build career in Srinivasan shadow
Cops land at BCCI chief’s family’s doorstep Srinivasan’s son-in-law gets summons, seeks time
[CSK] Team boss lost a crore on bets: Vindoo
BCCI brass faces fixing heat
Rules did not stop him from wearing two hats Industry captain and BCCI power player
From Board chief, the silent treatment
Srinivasan also under CBI lens in Jagan Mohan Reddy assets case
BCCI chief may use his clout
Interview: ‘Those at the top in BCCi should resign’: Lalit Modi
Guru arrested, Srinivasan may lose crown
After hours of grilling, cops say BCCI chief’s son-in-law ‘involved in offence’
Srinivasan rejects growing calls for resignation, threatens to ‘fix’ media
Interview: It’s either Srinivasan or Sahara, says Subroto Roy
India Cements shares at 52-week low
India Cements disowns Gurunath
Is Srini trying to insulate CSK?
Law catches up with the son-in-law
Srinivasan should quit right away, say voices in the BCCI
Interview: A.C. Muthiah has a go at his arch-enemy
Real final: Srinivasan vs Rest of India
Ouster plan: first nudge, then shove
‘I won’t be bulldozed into quitting, media unfair’: Srinivasan
Graphic: 3/4 majority to remove President
Strapline: Someone’s stepping down
Cricket fans should bat for a change
BCCI prez may manage to stay on
Law will take its course: Board chief on son-in-law Srini meets Meiyappan’s lawyers
‘Brand India Cements to take a hit’
IPL needs to cleanse itself from within
Former stars want BCCI prez to go
Srini men start lobbying, Shukla meets Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata
Interview: ‘It was a huge mistake to bring Srinivasan into administration’: A.C. Muthiah
Weak-kneed BCCI falls in line as Srinivasan flatly refuses to walk
Strapline: Chief says he is above board
Editorial: The darkest hour—Srinivasan must quit, followed by the overthrow of cricket’s absentee landlord and revamp of BCCI
Lead story: Why are they silent?
Cartoon: He is taking bets on who’s going to be the first to resign
Lead story: Jyotiraditya Scindia becomes first neta in BCCI to say Srinivasan should resign
Strapline: Across fields, Board boss under fire ‘Time for him to go’
Talking heads with 30 voices
Interview: Srinivasan holds power and wields it: Kishore Rungta
Lead story: Finally, Rajiv Shukla and Arun Jaitley say they too want Srinivasan out
Cracks widen in BCCI, even treasurer Ajay Shirke says he would have quit
Strapline: Chorus against Board boss swells
Six talking heads
Srini still has the numbers to hang on
Cheating case filed against Srinivasan
Strapline: Wheels within wheels
Minieditorial: calling for resignation
Jaitley, Shukla asked defiant Srini to quit; BCCI chief said ‘Not in my nature’
Third edit: The Sons-in-law factor, by Bachi Karkaria
Edit page piece: Rip the veil of silence, by Ayaz Memom
May the foes be with you: all the president’s men are fair-weather friends
The endgame has begun
Dalmiya denies he asked Srinivasan not to resign
No one in BCCI asked for his resignation: Shirke
Lead story: Majority now against Srinivasan, can call BCCI meet to remove him
Strapline: Board boss on a turning pitch
How Srini gave himself a life term
Srini’s conflict of interest hearing from July 16
Cartoon: I’m going to hang on to this post as long as I want
India Cements underperform peers
Anti-Srini camp won’t wait for probe
19 talking heads on which way board meet will go
Lead story: Game all but over for Srinivasan
Six days after BCCI boss declared he had board’s unanimous support, he’s running out of partners His no.2 and no. 3 quit, several more top officials to follow suit
Cartoon: Punchline: The best spot-fixer I’ve seen—he’s so fixed to the spot that no one can get him away from it
Lead story: Srini sets terms for exit, BCCI members unwilling to play ball
Strapline: His four demands
Srinivasan wanted Shukla to go too
Advertisement: “To run sports in India you don’t need to be good in games, only in gamesmanship”
Srinivasan vs ICC
Lead story: Match result: all out for no loss
Srinivasan to ‘step aside’: some say it’s a face-saver for him, others call it an anti-climax and a sham
Strap line: Will he really sit it out?
Editorial: nation dismayed: BCCI’s credibility lies in tatters as India’s cricket fans are sold a lemon
For Srini, a strategic time out
‘Nobody dared ask Srini to quit, only he spoke for first 40 minutes’
Cartoon: I’ve stepped aside
Srini shot down Shashank Manohar‘s name
Infographic and advertisement: courtesy The Times of India
Also read: The Times of India and Commonwealth Games