The Role of Print Media in Building a Democratic Society A Case Study of the News Coverage of Burhan Wani Killing in Kashmir

In a democracy, news media are crucial in informing the public and moulding public discourse. Society and media share an obligate symbiosis. While media are expected to serve democracy and strengthen it, the society nurtures and protects the media by according special privileges to it. Kashmir, in the northern most part of India, is a politically contested site. Both, Pakistan and India, have been accusing each other for creating unrest in the Kashmir Valley and inflaming violence. During the 1980s, political events in Kashmir led to an armed mass movement making way for the Indian Government's intervention, thus weakening the local administration. News media have been accused of disseminating only the governments' sides of the story, fanning violence in the Valley. The last three years have witnessed more violence and blood-letting than before. The 22- year old Burhan Wani's killing on 08 July 2016, was a well-publicised event. Following the killing, Kashmir was placed under 99 consecutive days of curfew. Fierce debates and protests followed in Indian public spheres and widespread violent protests were witnessed in and outside Kashmir, and an estimated 85 people have died in the state. Within an Agenda Setting Theory framework, this paper examined the role of newspapers in informing citizens about the killing of Burhan Wani. The study employed a mixed, multilevel content analysis to examine the content concerning the issue as published by India's two leading English newspapers - The Times of India and The Hindu.

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