Who Is Responsible for Delhi Air Pollution? Indian Newspapers’ Framing of Causes and Solutions

Nandini Bhalla, Jane O'Boyle, Dan Haun


In 2018, the World Health Organization declared Delhi the most polluted city on the planet. This study examines how the Indian print news media has framed the issue of Delhi air pollution, and framed responsibilities for its causes and solutions. This content analysis examines stories from The Times of India, Hindustan Times, and The Hindu for news coverage of Delhi air pollution between 2011 and 2016, when Delhi was enveloped in the worst toxic smog. Findings revealed that personal-level causal attributions (i.e., cars) were mentioned more frequently than were societal-level or other causes (industrial emissions and weather). The responsibility for solutions was attributed to the government and businesses, however, and not to individuals, which may be due to the nation’s high-context culture. Theoretical implications and practical applications are discussed.


Delhi, India, air pollution, content analysis, news framing

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