In our country, there are hundreds of newspapers both in English and in vernacular languages. In 1999, the total circulation of the Indian Press was 130, 087, 493 copies. The total number of newspapers and periodicals in 1999 was 46,655. There were 5157 dailies, 337 tri/bi-weeklies, 16872 weeklies, 12796 monthlies, 6240 fortnightlies, 3273 quarterlies, etc. There were about 18903 newspapers in Hindi and 6830 in English.
The top English dailies of our country are The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times, The Times of India, New Delhi Times, The Amrita Patrika, The Telegraph, The Hindu, The Asian Age, etc. Many of these have their local editions published from different parts of the country. The main vernacular newspapers are Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Malayala Manorama, Gujarath Samachar, Ananda Bazar Patrika, etc.
For most people, the main function of newspapers is to provide news and information regarding the various events of one’s country as well as of the whole world. It makes people aware of the world beyond their door.
Providing news is not the only function of newspapers. They also serve us in many other ways. Newspapers educate the people in general. Newspapers play a vital role in inculcating the habit of reading among the masses. A democracy, like India, cannot functism properly without educated and aware citizens.
Newspapers also provide a great deal of entertainment. Cartoons, commentaries, beautiful pictures, touching write- ups, etc. can certainly provide relaxation to the general public. Perhaps the most important value of newspapers is that they mould public opinion and influence people’s thoughts and way of thinking.
They promote political consciousness and arouse popular awareness. During the freedom movement, the nationalist newspapers did a commendable role in arousing patriotism and national fervour. This sector is also a labour-intensive sector and provides employment opportunities to thousands of individuals in the world.
Freedom of press in a democracy does not allow the press to take undue advantage. This should be avoided. People’s opinion should be directed to the proper way by presenting true pictures of situations. Opinions in newspapers should not be biased towards one political ideology.
Giving too much coverage to violence, sex, private lives of individuals, political brick batting, lobbying, etc., can-create havoc in a society. And it is the foremost duty of the press to avoid this.
Journalist and editors have a very important and sacred task on their shoulders. And this is especially true to a multicultural, multilingual, secular country like India where every now and then some bad elements in the society try to create tensions among people. Newspapers are the best medium to build a harmonious and cooperative society it depends on the manner in which this medium is used for a constructive effect.